Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Computers: In Our Family For 47 Years, Part 1

: What kind of computer screen fixes itself?

The Wayback Machine
Today we will be traveling back to the time of prehistoric computers. Come with us now to the slower, simpler years of the gigantic Computersaurus Rex.

I don’t like this computer; I wish that I could sell it.
It won't do what I want it to, only what I tell it!

My attitude toward any electronic device is that I don’t expect it to work the way I want. I’m very happy when it does, and feel it’s my fault or my lack of knowledge when it doesn’t. This is also pretty much my attitude toward life.

I look at computers the same way I look at cars -- I don’t want to know what makes them run, I just want to get somewhere so much that I need to learn to drive one. I got my driver’s license 50 years ago, but I’m still using a beginner’s permit for the computer (and I’m REALLY glad there’s no competency test involved).

I never learned to type, but I saw the value of typing ancestors’ names into a database, then with the push of a button print out what I had hand-copied over and over so many times. I started entering family names 20 years ago and haven’t stopped yet. In the early 1980s, just about the time I became a professional genealogist (meaning I got paid for giving a talk), I began to see that computers were going to be a necessity for the rest of my life.

Grampy had already brought a steady stream of them into the house for his business use. Do the names Osborne, Commodore, Victor, Kaypro, Sharp, TI (Texas Instrument), Tandy PC-1 or TSR 80 (both made by Radio Shack) ring a bell? Didn‘t think so. How about BASIC, COBOL, FORTRAN, PARSEC, IBM punch cards, paper tape programs, floppy disks, dot matrix or bubble memory? No? Well, Grampy owned, programmed and loved them all.

“Do Not Bend, Fold, Spindle or Mutilate”
A colored IBM 'job card'.
The rest of the cards in the program were light tan.

Photo: The IBM 026 Printing Card Punch

Olden Times
Grampy says:
I first saw a computer in 1961 as a freshman at Tufts University in Medford, MA. The mainframe computer was located at Northeastern University in Boston. It was about the size of a bedroom; programs for it ran on IBM punch cards (thousands of them) which were transported to it in a shoebox. The first card in each program was colored and preprinted with the essential job-card password and syntax. Each card had to be exactly correct or the program wouldn’t run (we didn’t have the term “crashed” yet). Then it would be back to a huge punch card machine console in the key punch room. Key punch noise was loud, especially when many punches were being run at the same time in one room. You had to hit the keys really hard.

Each stroke of typing had to be correct, as it punched a small rectangular hole in the 3x8½" card which was 80 columns (letters) wide. If it was mispunched, you muttered under your breath, hit the release key to move the current card out, duplicated up to the error on the next blank card, then continued punching from that point. When you released this card (or it auto-released after column 80) you quickly grabbed the bad card out of the flipper as it was being stacked and threw it into the often-overflowing wastebasket.

What a surprising disappointment when your painstakingly-written program didn’t run! It took hours to find the error, correct it and try again, then turn in the stack of cards and wait days for a printout. That printout was our homework, to be turned in to the professor. It was as wide as a newspaper page, with tractor-feed strips that had to be torn off the edges on both sides. It had light green stripes to help keep your place when reading across the long lines of computer code.

Computer time was by appointment, and just to make it more fun, freshmen got the 3 a.m. time slot. At least there wasn’t much traffic on my drives into Boston.

Now the average household in the USA contains more computer power than existed in the whole world before 1965.

The Good Old Days
I remember when:
A computer was something on TV, in a sci fi show of note.
A window was something you hated to clean,
And ram was the cousin of goat.
Meg was the name of a girlfriend, and gig was a job for the nights.
Now they all mean different things, and that really mega bytes.

An application was for employment. A program was a TV show.
A cursor used profanity. A keyboard was a piano.
Memory was something that you lost with age,
A CD was a bank account,
And if a disk was floppy, it meant your back was out.

Compress was something you did to the trash,
Not something you did to a file.
And if you were unzipped in public, you'd be embarrassed for a while.
Log on was adding wood to the fire,
A hard drive was a long trip on the road.
A mouse pad was where a mouse lived,
And a backup happened to your commode.

Cut you did with a pocket knife, paste you did with glue.
A web was a spider's home and a virus was the flu.
I'll try to stick to my pad and paper and the memory in my head,
‘Cause although I hear nobody's been killed in a computer crash,
When it happens they wish they were dead.

Riddle answer: a Christian Science monitor.

Friday, September 26, 2008

September Featured Relative of the Month, No. 4

My grandmother told me this riddle from her childhood.

Riddle: Little Nancy Etticoat, in a white petticoat, has a red nose; the longer she stands, the shorter she grows. What is she?

Photo: Millie with youngest son Lawrence.

Emily (Hall) Trout, called Millie, was the hardest working person I ever knew. She accomplished so much in her life, and lived many different roles in her 69 years. I know only a few details, as she died when I was 16. In later years when I asked my mother questions, she said she didn't remember, and my uncles still found it too painful to talk about their father or their lost childhoods in New Jersey.

So these are my memories of the bedtime stories she told, and what I've pieced together in research. I wish I knew more. She lived in service to those who needed her most -- her mother, grandparents, daughter and granddaughter. She died at my uncle's house, after supper, while drying dishes.

Photo: This tintype was taken around 1891. It was called "Babes in the Woods".

1. In 1889: She was born a twin Sept. 26, in Bernardsville, NJ.

2. 1900: Her father died.

3. 1906 to 1909: She was a caregiver. She took care of her grandmother after her beloved grandfather died in 1906, age 85.

4. 1909 to 1937: She was a caregiver.
She took care of her mother, a nervous, delicate woman who always depended on Millie and lived with her all of her life.

5. Before 1910: She was engaged to be married.
Her first love, Ned Beavers, either took a job on the railroad or worked extra hours at his railroad job, to earn money for their marriage. He was in a terrible accident 3 weeks before their wedding, and she reached him just in time to hold his hand as he died. She took the money saved for their life together and went to nursing school.

6. 1910: She was a country schoolteacher.
She (and Bessie) taught in a one-room schoolhouse in Hunterdon County, New Jersey in the Census that year, and perhaps some years before and after. Many books tell about these early schools, including Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little Town on the Prairie (showing an example of a Teacher's Certificate) and Those Happy Golden Years.

7. By 1914: She was a Registered Nurse.
She (and Bessie) graduated from the Polyclinic Hospital in New York City, specializing in private duty nursing.

8. 1917: She was a bride.
The Trenton (NJ) Evening Times Aug 28, 1917
Ceremony Performed In Sandy Ridge Baptist Church -- Twin Sister Bridesmaid
Stockton, Aug 28 -- A wedding of local interest was solemnized last Saturday afternoon in the Sandy Ridge Baptist Church, when Miss Emily Van Doren Hall of New York City was united in marriage to Francis LeRoy Trout, son of Mr. and Mrs. Frank L. Trout of Bowne Station. The Rev. Samuel B. Williams of Germantown, Pa. officiated.
Miss Bessie Hall, twin sister of the bride, was maid of honor. The best man was Lewis Cline of Sergeantsville. Earl Trout, a brother of the bridegroom, and Carl Todd were ushers. The wedding march was played by Miss Eleanor Hoff.
Following the ceremony, a reception was held at the home of the bridegroom's parents. The bride was the recipient of many handsome and useful gifts, including cut glass, silver, linen, $50 in money and articles of furniture.
The guests, numbering 75, included the Rev S. B. Williams, Mrs. Walter Atkinson, Mr. and Mrs. Percy Hall and son Worth, of Philadelphia; Miss Bessie Hall, New York; Miss Lydia Lererk of Brooklyn; Miss Elizabeth Bellis, Newark; Mr. and Mrs. Charles Apgar, Miss Amelia Duneck, New Germantown; Mr. and Mrs. Howard Sutphin, Mrs. J. Apgar, Lebanon; Mr. and Mrs. A. T. Apgar, Russell Case and son Russell, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Trout and son Roger, D.A.F. Bellis, Dr. and Mrs. Horace D. Bellis, Mr. and Mrs. Alfred Bellis, Glenn Bellis, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Bellis, Charles Vannoy, of Trenton; Mr. and Mrs. John C. Lane and son Lawrence of Neshanic, Mr. and Mrs. John Bellis and son Edgar, Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Bellis and daughter Allice, of Hopewell; Mr. and Mrs. Albert Heath, Locktown; William Coates, Mr. and Mrs. Irwin Cline, Lewis Cline, Miss Elsie Cline, Sergeantsville; Miss Eleanor Hoff, Sandy Ridge; Mr. and Mrs. A.C. Bellis, Mr. and Mrs. Hiram Bellis, Ernest Bellis, Miss Sarah Bellis, Earnest Gulick, Mr. and Mrs. Manning Potts, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Johnson, Mr. and Mrs. James Smith, Ringoes; Mr. and Mrs. Judson Hoff, Miss Stella Hockenbury, Clarence Naylor, Lambertville; Miss Mae Hartpence, Mrs. Horace Todd and son Leavitt, Miss Helen Bacorn, Earl Todd, Mr. and Mrs. F.L. Trout, Earle Trout, Russell Trout, Miss Elizabeth Bellis of Bowne Station.

9. 1917 to 1934. She was a busy, happy wife and mother of 3 children born in 3 states in less than 3 years. Photo: 1923

10. 1934 on: She was a widow.
In the midst of The Great Depression, her husband died at age 42, the second man she loved to die young, while she held his hand.

TROUT--- Entered into rest in this city on the 22nd inst., F. Leroy Trout, in the 43rd year of his age. The relatives and friends of the family, also employees of the Castanea Dairy Company and members of Trinity M. E. Church are invited to attend the funeral from the Trinity M.E. Church at 2:30 o'clock Friday afternoon. Interment at Ewing cemetery. Friends may view Mr. Trout on Thursday evening.

11. She was a Bible scholar.
She studied with Dr. O. C. Engle, who gave her the Bible ('For Nellie' inscribed on the cover) that she always had in her hands when she rested. He was older, affluent, and wanted to marry her. Her sons said absolutely not, so she moved from the area.

12. 1937 on: She was a single mother and pioneer.
Leaving all of her relatives and friends, she moved her 3 reluctant teenagers from the city of Trenton, New Jersey to a small, nearly self-sufficient chicken farm in the wilds (to them) of Maine. Both she and her daughter lived in this house the rest of their lives.

13. 1942 on: She was my primary caregiver.
I only survived and had a happy childhood because of her care and devotion. I must have made her last 15 years happy, for she called me "my little comfort". We shared a room for all my childhood, and she told me hundreds of bedtime stories about her past, most of which I was too young or too sleepy to remember.

To be continued...

Riddle answer: A candle

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

September Featured Relative of the Month, No. 3

: What key can't open doors?

A is our youngest and only Millennium grandchild, a child of the 21st century. Born 1 week after 9/11, our precious sweetheart spent much of her first month in a large medical center. Today she talks and sings beautifully, loves to run, play, go to school and ride on the schoolbus. This little poem describes her day:

Starting School (author unknown)
A, B, C, D, E School is where I want to be.
F, G, H, I, J Learn to read and write each day.
K, L, M, N, O Boys and girls we like to know.
P, Q, R, S, T Sharing time for you and me.
U, V, W, X, Y Now it's time to say goodbye.
Z, Z, Z, Z, Z School is where I want to be!

Let's look back on the last 7 years:
A's Timeline: 2001-2008
2001: George Walker Bush inaugurated as President of US.
11 Sep 2001: Islamic terrorists hijacked 4 fully fuelled passenger airplanes and flew 2 jets into the World Trade Center twin towers in NYC, resulting in about 3,000 deaths; a 3rd jet was flown into the Pentagon, with about 200 deaths, while the 4th jet was heroically brought down in PA farmland, with about 50 deaths. The events of that terrible day cut the year into two distinct parts. The 8 months prior to 9/11 seemed like a distant dream of more innocent times. [A few days afterward, I remember reading an August newspaper and thinking what frivolous, childish things we were concerned about 'back then'. In the following months, we saw American flags flying everywhere, also on T-shirts, car antennas and bumper stickers.]
More money is spent on video games than movies; Satellite radio begins; Microsoft Windows XP (short for "experience") in Oct; iPod launched in Oct; Microsoft Xbox and Nintendo GameCube introduced in Nov; Enron bankruptcy; first space tourist pays $20 million to board Space Station; Movies: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone opened Nov 16; Fellowship of the Ring; Monsters, Inc; Shrek; Jurassic Park III; Dr. Dolittle 2; Spy Kids; The Princess Diaries.
2002: TV: American Idol premieres; Movies: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; LOTR: The Two Towers; Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones; Men in Black II; Spy Kids 2; Stuart Little 2; Spider-Man.
2003: Books: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; Eragon; Movies: Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King; Finding Nemo; Freaky Friday; Good Boy!
2004: Ken Jennings wins on Jeopardy; Doctor Who returns to TV after 16 years; Movies: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; Spider-Man 2; The Incredibles; National Treasure.
2005: TV: Star Trek: Enterprise canceled, ending uninterrupted Star Trek series from 1987; Movies: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe; March of the Penguins; Madagascar; Books: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince; Eldest.
2006: Movies: Ice Age: The Meltdown; Night at the Museum; Cars; Eragon; TV: High School Musical.
2007: Movies: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; Bee Movie; Ratatouille; National Treasure: Book of Secrets; Meet the Robinsons; TV: High School Musical 2; Book: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
2008: Book: Brisingr; Movies: High School Musical 3: Senior Year; Madagascar: 2; Horton Hears a Who; Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian; WALL-E.

TV shows we watched in 2001: Smallville (2001-present); 24 (2001-present); Baywatch (1989-2001); Walker, Texas Ranger (1993-2001); Diagnosis, Murder (1992-2001); Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001); Xena: Warrior Princess (1995-2001); X-Files (1993-2002); Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-2005); Roswell (1999-2002); Invisible Man (2000-2002); Nash Bridges (1996-2001)

Hit songs of 2001: Hanging By A Moment, Lifehouse; Fallin', Alicia Keys; All For You, Janet Jackson; If You're Gone, Matchbox Twenty; I'm Real, Jennifer Lopez; Thank You, Dido; Independent Woman Part I, Destiny's Child; Again, Lenny Kravitz; U Remind Me, Usher; Who Let the Dogs Out by Baha Men; Ricky Martin had several hits.

Popular toys in 2001: Harry Potter Trivia game, 2000; Let's Pretend Elmo, 2000; Pokemon Gold and Silver, 2000; Celebration Barbie, 2000; Super Poo-Chi, 2000; Top It, 2000; Razor Scooter, 2000; Moon Walk Shoes, 1999; New Furby 1999; Pokemon Trading Cards, 1999; Electronic Pikachu, 1999; Baby Furby, 1999; Sega Dreamcast, 1999; Teletubbies, 1998; Furby, 1998; Bouncing Tigger, 1998.

Books we were reading in 2001: Holes by Louis Sachar, 1999; The Giver by Lois Lowry, 1994.

Riddle answer: A monKEY, a donKEY or a turKEY.

Friday, September 12, 2008

September Featured Relative of the Month, No. 2

What would you get if you crossed a Jedi knight with a toad?

Our family's second September birthday is for our oldest grandchild S, who is fast leaving childhood behind. Last year's milestone was getting his driver's license, this year he gets to vote for the president!

Present Times
S says:
"I feel most comfortable when I am surrounded by technology. Oh, and I'm going to be the next CEO of Apple Inc."

Comment on Twitter during class: "Dang! It's hard to do schoolwork and follow the Apple Keynote address!"

"Outside recording to Utterz on my laptop."

"Just played Wii Fit, Guitar Hero for DS, PS3, and played around with an iMac and a 32GB iPod touch all in 3 hours."

LOL. I'm IMing my sister via Facebook, and she's just upstairs =]

Recent Olden Times
When S was about 9, his favorite movie was Star Wars, he liked to read Roald Dahl books and design cars with Legos. He loved swimming, biking and using walkie-talkies; was on the safety patrol at school, a Cub Scout, sang in Chorus, started learning Alto Saxophone. He was a very good artist, on the honor roll, received an award for FCAT, got a scholarship to the Environmental Studies Center for 2 weeks at Camp WET. He liked Toaster Strudels and going to Cici's Pizza. He wanted to be a car & bike designer when he grew up. The most important things to him were his family and computer, and his wish was to have lots of friends and be a good singer.

At about age 10, S said:
“When I tell my children about when I was a boy, they’ll say ‘Oooooo! That was a looong time ago!’ I’ll say if you think that was a long time ago, let me tell you about when my Mom was little, and my Grammy and Grampy, and my great-grandfather.”

When S was little, here are some of the things he didn’t have. Some weren’t even invented yet: Cordless phones, cellular phones, pagers, rollerblade skates, the Internet and e-mail.

When his parents were little, they didn’t have color TV, computers, CDs, calculators, a dishwasher, a microwave oven, videotapes or even video cameras.

When his Grammy and Grampy were little, they didn’t have TV or even TV dinners. They had records and a record player instead of music on cassette tapes. Cameras used black and white film, and there were no small portable radios that ran on batteries.

When his great-grandfather was little, he didn't have a car, telephone or even electricity!

Future Olden Times
Someday in the future Grampy S can say to HIS grandchildren:
When I was born, there were no iPods! I didn't have an e-mail address until I was 12 years old! Pluto was still a planet! I had to walk uphill to school -- both ways! And there wasn't a hill nearby, so I had to walk until I found one, walk up it, and then go home!

I had to be content with computer games that looked 2-D like Donald Duck Alphabet Game, Mickey Mouse Fun With Numbers and Mixed-Up Mother Goose. Our computer stored information on huge floppy disks. We didn't have DVD players. We used VCRs that sometimes ate our tapes! Our cars didn't have cup holders! We had go to the library to look things up in encyclopedias if we wanted information, and then write it down on paper! You couldn't just run to your computer and type in a few words to find out anything!

A Look Back:
(With thanks to the Beloit College Mindset List):
S was born in 1990 when headlines sounded oddly like those of today. Rising fuel costs caused airlines to cut staff and flight schedules; big car companies faced declining sales and profits; and a president named Bush increased the number of troops in the Middle East.

His class of 2009 grew up in a time when computers and rapid communication were the norm. They seldom used landlines during their adolescence. They live on their cell phones and by texting. Most have never used a postage stamp. Few have shared a bedroom, but many have shared their most personal thoughts with the whole world on the Internet. S is part of a multicultural, politically correct generation that has never feared the Russians.
To those his age, Sammy Davis Jr. and Jim Henson (both d. 1990) have always been dead.
They don’t remember the first President Bush. (1989-1993)
They were just born when the Soviet Union broke apart (1991) and don't remember the Cold War.
They grew up with computers in the house.
They always had cell phones and voicemail.
They invented their own language to use with text messaging.
They grew up with digital clocks. Half past three or quarter to four may have no meaning to them.
Tamper-proof packaging was created before they were born. (1982)
Atari (1970s) predates them, as do vinyl record albums.
They never played Pac Man (1980) or heard of Pong. (1st video game, 1972)
They never saw a TV set with only 13 channels, or black and white TV
There always were VCRs and you could always rent or buy movies.
They cannot fathom not having a remote control. (early 1980s)
Roller skating always meant in-line for them. (1990)
Harry Potter could be a classmate.
They have always been looking for Carmen Sandiego.
GPS satellite navigation systems and karaoke machines have always been available.
Carbonated drinks have always been in plastic bottles.
Bottle caps always were screw-off and plastic.
Shampoo and conditioner have always been in the same bottle.
Gas station attendants have never pumped gas for them; they never heard a gas station attendant ask "Want me to check under the hood?"
Electronic filing of tax returns has always been an option.
With technology, they recognize that some people "just don’t get it."
Universal Studios has always offered an alternative to Disneyworld.
Martha Stewart has always been setting the style.
Haagen-Dazs ice cream has always come in quarts.
Clarence Thomas has always sat on the Supreme Court.
IBM never made typewriters; they don't have a clue how to use one.
McDonald’s and Burger King have always used vegetable oil for cooking french fries.
Popcorn has always been made in the microwave.
They have never been able to color a tree with a raw umber Crayola.
The Tonight Show has always been hosted by Jay Leno. (1992)
Some were given a Nintendo Game Boy to play with in their playpen.
The US has always been building a wall across the Mexican border.
Lenin’s name has never been a major city in Russia.
Employers have always been able to do background checks on employees.
Macaulay Culkin has always been Home Alone. (1990)
Personal privacy has always been threatened.
The CD was introduced the year they were born.
They have always had an answering machine.
They have always had cable TV.
Caller ID has always been available on phones.
Yellow ribbons have always been a symbol of troop support. (1990)
They never went swimming and thought about Jaws. (1975)
Soft drink refills have always been free.
Windows 3.0 made IBM PCs user-friendly the year they were born.
Moscow has always had McDonalds.
The Hubble Space Telescope has always been up there in the heavens.
98.6 degrees or higher has always been measured in the ear.
Off-shore oil drilling in the United States has always been prohibited.
Radio stations have never been required to present both sides of public issues.
There have always been charter schools.
They have always had Goosebumps.

Top singers of 1990 were Mariah Carey, Madonna, Bette Midler, Wilson Phillips, Sinead O'Conner, New Kids on the Block, John Bon Jovi, Janet Jackson, Michael Bolton and Phil Collins. Milli Vanilli received a Grammy for Best New Artist, then lost it for lip-synching.

At the movies: Dances with Wolves; Ghost; Hunt for Red October; Total Recall; Die Hard 2; Dick Tracy; Kindergarten Cop; Edward Scissorhands; Gremlins 2; Back to the Future III; Jetsons: the Movie; Ghost Dad; Look Who’s Talking Too; Rescuers Down Under; Robocop 2; Rocky V; Joe vs the Volcano; Problem Child; Ducktales: the Movie.

Some 1990 TV shows: Quantum Leap (1989-1993); Law & Order (1990-present); The Wonder Years (1988-1993); Star Trek: Next Generation (1987-94); Fresh Prince of Bel Air (1990-95); Cosby Show (1984-92); MacGyver (1985-92); Baywatch (1989-99). Some of his favorite boyhood shows were: Home Improvement (1991-99); Rugrats (1991-03); Lois & Clark (1993-97); Animaniacs (1993-98).

Fun toys were: Sega Game Gear; Dino Riders Ice Age series; Nintendo Game Boy; Sega Genesis; Super Soaker; Dino Riders; Micro Machines; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles figures; Power Drencher; Koosh Ball; Pictionary; Starcom: US Space Force; Glo Worm Glo Friends.

Prices: New house, $123,000; Car, $9,400; milk, $2.15/gal; Bread, $1; Gas, $1.08/gal; Postage stamp $0.25; Movie ticket, $4; Harvard tuition, $13,500; Minimum Wage: $3.80/hr; Avg income, $19,777.

The week S was born, Ellis Island, where several of his immigrant ancestors came through, reopened as a museum.

Timeline: 1990 to 2008
1989-92: George Bush president of US until age 2
1990: 70% of Americans live in cities; Hubble space telescope launched; East and West Germany reunited; Seabrook, NH nuclear power plant on line after 20 years of protests and legal struggles; Smoking on domestic airplane flights banned; Start of Sci-Fi cable channel; Joshi computer virus forced users of infected machines to type "Happy Birthday Joshi" to regain control. Ford acquired Jaguar. GM introduced Saturns; IBM makes "industrial strength" PS/1 computer; Microsoft releases Windows 3.0; World Wide Web/Internet protocol (http) and www language (html) created; Universal Studios Florida opens to the public.
1991: Soviet Union ends; Iraq attacks Kuwait, US attacks Iraq; World Wide Web available, age 1
1992: Hurricane Andrew hits Florida, age 2
1993-2000: William Clinton president of US from age 3 to 10
1993: Hubble telescope fixed; Catholic Church apologizes for its treatment of Galileo in 1600s; Hit movie Jurassic Park; Pentium processor invented, age 3
1994: Existence of black holes proved; giant East coast ice storm; Microsoft's last competitor, Commodore Computers bankrupt, age 4
1995: American Terrorist bombing in Oklahoma City, age 5
1996: DVD (Digital Video Disc) recordings, age 6
1997: Cloning living beings begins; Mars pathfinder lands, age 7
1998: Pres. Clinton impeached; US attacks Iraq - again; Titanic most successful movie ever; 1st 1 GHz microprocessor - DEC Alpha CPU; 1st MP3 player, age 8
1999: Pokémon, age 9
2000: Working draft of human genome completed; North Pole ice melts - 1.5 km of open water; Playstation II ships - most powerful video system to date, age 10
2001-09: George W. Bush president of US from age 11 to 2009
2001: Satellite Radio begins; X-Box console released; Wikipedia goes online; Muslim terrorists destroy World Trade Center Sep 11th, age 11
2002: 10th solar planet(oid) discovered; Euro currency starts, age 12
2003: Shuttle Columbia destroyed during re-entry, age 13
2004: Water verified present on Mars by Odyssey Lander, age 14
2005: Hurricanes Katrina, Rita devastate New Orleans; Microsoft ships Xbox 360, age 15
2006: PS3 ships from Sony; Wii ships from Nintendo, age 16
2007: Comet McNaught swings by the sun - extremely bright, age 17

Riddle answer: Star Warts

Saturday, September 6, 2008

School Days: Remembering 3 Grandparents

: Where did the kittens go on their class trip?

Growing up in New England, Labor Day always meant the end of summer vacation for me, Grampy and daughters L and R. School always started the Wednesday following this holiday.

September brings back fond memories of my dear grandmother Emily "Millie" (Hall) Trout. In her youth, she and her twin sister Bessie Hall (my Great-Aunt Bee) taught in one-room schoolhouses in adjoining towns in Hunterdon County, New Jersey. Her lifelong motto was "Every moment is a teaching moment." She was my first and best teacher throughout my childhood. She taught me to love learning, and made it such a part of me that I've never stopped wanting to learn every day. She taught me this song when I was a very little girl:

Photo: 1938

School Days
School days, school days, dear old golden rule days.
'Readin' and 'ritin' and 'rithmetic, taught to the tune of a hick'ry stick.
You were my queen in calico, I was your bashful barefoot beau, You wrote on my slate, 'I love you, Joe,' when we were a couple of kids.

My grandmother Florence "Flossie" (McDougal) Nickerson also taught in a one-room school in the northern Aroostook County town of Mapleton, Maine, on the Canadian border, for several years until she married in 1906.
Photo: 1961

Grampy's grandfather Irving Frost was a folk poet. His pieces have a lovely rolling cadence rather than always rhyming.

He moved to Bar Harbor, Maine, from Mariaville, the tiny town in the woods where he grew up, so his 4 sons could have better schools. He lost his sight in middle age, and lived more years blind than sighted. He composed his poems in his mind, and his wife or other relatives wrote them down.

When Grampy and his Dad visited, they would take Grandpa Frost for a car ride. Grampy always asked him to recite his poems for Grampy to write down. Some were printed in a local newspaper. We collected all we could find, about 30. Some were written as birthday greetings, some for holidays, and some were memories of his youth, as was this one:

The following was written by Irving Frost of Bar Harbor for his cousin Henry Frost of Mariaville. The schoolhouse referred to burned many years ago:
Photo with wife Inez: 1961

The Old Schoolhouse
I have been thinking today of the old schoolhouse, Henry,
That stood there by the roadside so long ago,
How we used to meet there early in the morning
Before it was time to go to school.

We used to play the games "Chase the Squirrel"
And "Hailly Over"; the bell, over it we would throw.
The good times we all had there together,
Around that old schoolhouse seventy years ago.

The rail fence that was built around the schoolyard,
And that big rock where the children used to play,
And the spring down in the pasture
Where we got water every day.

How we tried to walk that rail fence, Henry,
Someone would give it a shake and off we would go.
The tricks we used to play on each other,
Around that old schoolhouse seventy years ago.

There was a woodlot in back of the schoolhouse,
Where at noontime we would go to have our fun,
Play cowboys and Indians,
And shoot each other with our wooden guns.

How we hated to hear that school bell ringing,
As back into the schoolhouse we had to go
And study the lessons the teacher would give us,
In that old schoolhouse seventy years ago.

How we used to climb the trees across the highway,
Like monkeys from one tree to another we would go,
It's a wonder we didn't fall and break our necks, Henry,
The things we did there long ago.

How we used to go to those school entertainments,
And the spelling bees there they used to hold,
The girls could always beat us at spelling,
In that old schoolhouse seventy years ago.

They used to hold meetings there on Sunday mornings,
Sunday school, where the children used to go
To study the Bible and Sunday lessons
In the old schoolhouse seventy years ago.

Now the old schoolhouse, it has gone forever,
And many of our schoolmates have passed away,
I hope we will all meet up there together, Henry,
When Gabriel blows his horn on Judgment Day.

At this time of new school year beginnings for our 6 grandchildren, we know that our grandparents Millie Trout (1889-1959), Flossie Nickerson (1886-1965), and Irving G. Frost (1875-1968) would be as proud of these 5th generation descendants as we are.

Riddle answer: To a mewseum

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

September Featured Relative Of The Month, No. 1

: Here on earth it is true, yesterday is always before today, but there is a place where yesterday always follows today. Where?

Today is so special it deserves a 2nd Riddle: What happened in the middle of the 20th Century that won't happen again for 4,000 years?

We have 3 birthdays to feature in September, so let's climb aboard...

The Wayback Machine
Our first trip this month is back to 1961:

Our darling first daughter L was born in Portland, ME on Labor Day (actually, all babies are born on labor day). I have are so many wonderful memories of her childhood, it's hard to choose just a few.

L was a very easy baby and child to raise. She made me think I was very successful at parenting, when really it was her own sweet good nature. I had so much fun reading stories, playing games and singing songs with her, then later seeing her do the same with her children.

She was always helpful and hardworking. In first grade, since she finished her work early, the teacher had her tutor a handicapped child (back before special needs children had help). Since teaching reinforced her own knowledge, and she loved to play 'school', we let this continue. Her patience and compassion as a little girl show in the competent, caring adult that she became.

She was the most frugal college student ever. She would buy overripe bananas for a few cents and make delicious banana bread. Her motto was "When life hands you mooshy bananas, make banana bread".

As a very intelligent child and adult, she graduated from college with a Major, a Minor, and just one class short of a second Minor Degree. She has held a top executive job for many years.

Timeline 1961 to 1990
1961-63: John F Kennedy president of US to age 2
1961: 1st man in space, Yuri Gagarin; 1st US manned spaceflight, Alan Shepard; Bay of Pigs Cuban disaster; Berlin Wall built; 1st US soldier killed in Vietnam; airplane hijacking (skyjacking); 1st inflight movie shown; Chevy II had 1st modern 4-cylinder engine; Sep 5: US began underground nuclear testing; 90% of Americans had TV (we didn't)
1962: Cuban missile crisis, age 1
1963-68: Lyndon B Johnson president of US from age 2 to 7
1963: Compact cassette tape recordings; 1st artificial heart; Supreme Court ruled laws requiring recitation of Lord's Prayer or Bible verses in public schools unconstitutional; Pres. Kennedy assassinated, age 2
1964: US civil rights bill; Beatlemania hits US, age 3
1964-75: Vietnam War, age 3 to 14
1965: 1st public burning of a draft card to protest Vietnam War; 1st spacewalks (US, USSR); Kevlar; Nov 9 Great northeast blackout, age 4
1966: Medicare begins; 8-track tape players, age 5
1967: The term Black Hole coined; Final episode of Gilligan's Island; 1st human heart transplant, age 6
1968: Martin Luther King killed; Robert Kennedy killed, age 6
1969-74: Richard Nixon president of US, age 8 to 13
1969: Moon landing, 1st man Neil Armstrong; Woodstock; Internet invented at U.S. Dept of Defense, age 7
1970: Kent State shooting; Childproof safety caps; Beatles release last album; bar codes, Microprocessor, and Floppy disks invented, age 8
1971: Cigarette ads banned on TV; Electric Company debuts on PBS; Voting age lowered to 18; Disney's Magic Kingdom opens in FL; Intel ships 1st Processor: the 4004, age 10
1972: Israeli athlete hostages killed at Summer Olympics; 1st successful video game (Pong) released; Nike running shoes; Last Apollo moon mission; Watergate; E-mail invented, age 11
1973: Oil from $1.50 to $11.56 a barrel; VP Spiro Agnew resigns; World Trade Center opens; Vietnam War ends; The Internet, age 12
1974: Speed limit down to 55 mph on highways; Pres. Nixon resigns; 1st small, cheap pocket calculators sold, age 13
1974-76: Gerald Ford president of US from age 13 to 15
1975: 1st home computer (a kit) the Altair; Microsoft founded; Metric Conversion Act passed and ignored; Disposable razors, age 14
1976: American Bicentennial; Apple Computer launched; Betamax and VHS VCRs 1st sold; TV begins satellite broadcast, age 15
1977: Neutron bomb; Elvis dies at 42; 'Roots' TV miniseries, age 16
1977-80: James Earl Carter Jr president of US from age 16 to 19
1978: Laserdisc videos; 1st Ultrasound; 1st test-tube baby, age 17
1979: Sony Walkman introduced; Hostages taken in Iran; Three Mile Island nuclear event; L graduates from high school, age 18
1980: Mount St. Helens erupts; John Lennon assassinated; Japan passes US as largest automaker; Post-It Notes introduced, age 19
1981-88: Ronald Reagan president of US from age 20 to 27
1981: 1st space shuttle (Columbia); IBM PCs 1st sold; Pac-Man, age 20
1982: 1st genetically engineered product - insulin; 1st artificial heart transplant; DeLorean Motors bankrupt; Michael Jackson's "Thriller" released, becomes largest selling album ever, age 21
1983: Cabbage Patch Kids craze; Camcorders; Compact discs, age 22
1984: HIV virus is cause of AIDS; Apple releases Macintosh; L graduates from college, age 22
1985: Extra second added to calendar year; Leaded gas banned in US; Nintendo home entertainment system; Amiga Computer, age 24
1986: Chernobyl nuclear plant meltdown; Mir space station deployed; return of Halley's Comet, age 25
1987: 2000th satellite launched: USSR's Cosmos; World population reaches 5 billion, age 26
1988: Turin shroud carbon dated to 1330 AD - a hoax; Bobby McFerrin sings "Don't Worry, Be Happy"; CDs outsell vinyl for 1st time, age 27
1989: Fall of Berlin Wall; Breakup of Soviet Union; Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles a big hit; age 28
1989-92: George Bush president of US from age 28 to 31

Back in 1961:
Prices: New house, $20,000; Car, $2,000; Milk, $1.05; eggs, $.30 a dozen; Hamburg, $.40 a pound; Gasoline, $.25; Bread, $.21; Postage stamp, $.04; Average income, $6,400; minimum wage, $1.15; Movie ticket, $1; Harvard yearly tuition, $1,250

Movies: 101 Dalmatians, The Parent Trap; Absent Minded Professor, Swiss Family Robinson; El Cid; The Alamo; Breakfast at Tiffany's; The Guns of Navarone; Fanny; The Hustler; Tammy Tell Me True
Academy Awards: Best Picture - West Side Story; Best Actor Maximillian Schell - Judgment at Nuremberg; Best Actress - Sophia Loren - Two Women; Best Supporting: George Chakiris, Rita Moreno.

Top Songs: The Twist; Pony Time, Let's Twist Again, Chubby Checker; Blue Moon, The Marcels; Runaway, Del Shannon; Please Mr. Postman, The Marvelettes; Moon River, Henry Mancini; Are You Lonesome Tonight, Can't Help Falling in Love, Elvis Presley; Calendar Girl, Neil Sedaka; Shop Around, the Miracles; Exodus, Ferrante and Teicher; Where the Boys are, Connie Francis; Travelin' Man, Ricky Nelson; Running Scared, Roy Orbison; The Lion Sleeps Tonight, the Tokens; Tossin' and Turnin', Bobby Lewis; Big Bad John, Jimmy Dean;

TV: Perry Mason; The Defenders: Ben Casey; Dr. Kildare; Mr. Ed; Hazel; Leave It to Beaver; Candid Camera; Wagon Train; Bonanza; Gunsmoke: Ed Sullivan; Red Skelton; Andy Griffith; Danny Thomas; Dick Van Dyke; Password; Twilight Zone; Flintstones; Car 54 Where are You?; The Alvin Show (The Chipmunks)

Books: Calories Don't Count, Herman Taller; Catch-22, Joseph Heller; Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert Heinlein; Pulitzer Prize-winner: To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee.

Toys: Barbie; Troll Dolls; Yahtzee; Hula Hoop; Play-doh; Etch-A-Sketch; Frisbee; Chatty Cathy; Slip 'N Slide

Riddle answer: In the dictionary
Second Riddle answer: A year like 1961, which reads the same upside down. The next one is the year 6009