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Monday, October 31, 2011

Taking one for the Team!

My wife wasn't going to get any candy to hand out because we were not going to be home, and the Chiefs were playing so we would be watching that when we got home.


My youngest son, Garth,  whose 1 1/2 went to the store with me Sunday night to get milk and I picked up a bag of Halloween candy.  Going through the check line I asked Garth.
"Who is buying the candy?",  He answered "ME!" 
"Whose is going to get in trouble for buying candy?",  He replied "ME!"

When we got home I put the bags on the table, when my wife found the candy she asked, "What is this?"
I asked Garth, "Who bought the candy?"
He answered "ME!"
"Whose going to get in trouble for buying candy?"
"ME!" 
I love that kid, taking one for the team and it didn't even cost me a piece of candy.  That's my boy!!
My Wife shook her head and walked out of the room.

Origins of Trick or Treat

Souling as it was called, was a late mid-evil practice when poor folk would go door to door on Hollowmas (November 1st), receiving food in return for prayers for the dead on 'All Saints Day' (November 2nd), which originated in Ireland and Great Britain.  Similar practices were found to exist as far south as Italy.
Later it became known as Guising, where children disguised in costumes would go door to door for food or coins.  This was recorded in Scotland in 1895 were masqueraders in disguise carrying lanterns made of scooped out turnips visited homes to be rewarded with cakes, fruit or money.
By the 1950's, Trick or Treat was a customary tradition throughout the United States.  These days it is prevalent custom on Halloween (October 31st ) in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Great Britain, and the Republic of Ireland.
In Mexico the children say "May I have a little skull?"  In which case candies made of sugar or chocolate are rewarded to the children.
I would like to say "Hello" and Welcome my Blog's newest follower and old Army buddy of mine from a million years ago and a different life time, Fellow Ex-Tanker, T.J. Hooker!  Welcome my old friend!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

The War of the Worlds

On October 30, 1938 . . .
Orson Welles, a radio broadcaster in the late 1930's, broadcast a reading of the Science Fiction novel "War of the Worlds" as if it was really happening causing panic throughout the listening audience who hadn't caught the very beginning of the broadcast to know it wasn't real.  Many listeners believing they were listening to a live broadcast of an actual Alien invasion of the Earth actually packed up and headed other places for safety.

The days following the broadcast were filled with outrage and embarrassment, but the episode launched Welles' career.

The fact that people, and so many people, believed the broadcast to be true leads me to believe that most of the population believed that aliens could exist and visit our planet!  Not that they would ever admit it in public to their friends or family for fear of being considered weird or loony.  Faced with hearing a radio broadcast they believed to be true caused them to react to their deep dark secret beliefs.

The same is probably more true today.  I believe most of the public probably believes in the existence of aliens but are afraid to mention it.  These beliefs probably range from Earth has been visited in the past, is still being visited, aliens are walking around amongst us, aliens have been abducting people and animals for years, to they believe they exist but have no clear cuts views as to any of the previous stuff.

Is Earth ready to confront aliens from another planet?  Would we rally to kill them, or would they be heralded as celebrities around the world?  Would people accept them on a friendly basis or fear them?  What ramifications would the existence of aliens have on the organized religions of the world?  Can religion and aliens co-exist on some level?  Would our God be their God also?  What do you think?

Please feel free to leave your comments.  If your visiting please click to follow this blog!

Orson Welles often worked at several radio stations a day in New York in the late thirties.  Discovering that it wasn't against the law to have an ambulance carry you if you were not actually sick, he would hire one to drive him from station to station with the lights going and sirens blaring to beat the traffic of the city!  Intelligent people find intelligent solutions to problems.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

The Price of Achievement

When you figure the years of parenting involved with raising and teaching a child, the years of helping them with homework, of their studying, reading, not to mention if they go on an attend a college or University for higher education.  Not to mention how a person matters to those around them, as far as family members, friends, wives and their children.  The cost of a trained, intelligence and productive adult human being is enormous on many levels.  So when you lose a person in the name of scientific achievement you have to consider that cost on top of all the other costs involved with research, development, parts, material and paying people to work on the project.
Chief Marshal Mitrofan Nedelin gave orders to use improper shutdown and control procedures on an experimental R-16 rocket.  The on pad repairs being done so quickly and not following protical casued the missile’s second stage engine to fire straight onto the full propellant tanks of the still attached first stage.  Marshall Nedelin was vaporized and was only identified by the remains of his uniform medals.  Somewhere between 92 to 150 top Soviet military and technical personnel were killed in the resulting explosion, toxic spill and fire.  This disaster happened on October 24, 1960 but was kept an official secret until 1989, and survivors of the incident were not allowed to discuss it until 1990.  Officially Nedelin’s death was explained by an air plane crash.  Mikhail Yangel the rockets chief designer had been trying to oust Korolev as the person responsible for the Soviet human spaceflight program.  Mikhail only survived the incident because he left to have a cigarette in a bunker that was removed from the launch pad.  He didn’t try to mess with Korolev throughout the rest of this period.
The Soviets officially covered up the March 23, 1961 death of cosmonaut Valentin Bondarenko from massive third degree burns from a fire in a high oxygen isolation test chamber.  It didn’t come out until 1986 in a series of newspaper articles in the Izvestia.  Bondarenko was 24 the youngest of the early Vostok cosmonauts.  The Soviets erased all traces of Bondarenko after his death.
The United States and the Soviet Union had been rushing at full speed on the Apollo and Soyuz programs without taking heed to due diligence and the results proved fatal to both development crews on both sides.
Command pilot “Gus” Grissom, Senior pilot Ed White and pilot Roger Chaffee, the first Apollo mission crew were killed by suffocation in a cabin fire that swept through Apollo 1 during a ground test on January 27, 1967.
On April 24, 1967, the USSR suffered the death of its first cosmonaut, Colonel Vladimir Komarov, the single pilot of Soyuz 1.  This was planned to be a three-day mission to include the first Soviet docking with an unpiloted Soyuz 2, but his mission was plagued with problems. Early on his craft lacked sufficient electrical power because only one of two solar panels had deployed.  Then the automatic attitude control system began malfunctioning and eventually failed completely, resulting in the craft spinning wildly.  Komarov was able to stop the spin with the manual system, which was only partially effective.  The flight controllers aborted his mission after only one day, and he made an emergency re-entry.  During re-entry a fault in the landing parachute system caused the primary chutes to fail, and the reserve chutes tangled together.  Komarov was killed on impact.
The launch vehicle for the Soviet Lunar missions, the N1 was unsuccessfully tested four times, exploding each time due to problems with the first stage's thirty engines.  This was why they were launching Tortoises into space instead of cosmonauts!
Other astronauts died while training for space flight, including four Americans, Ted Freeman, Elliot See, Charlie Bassett, and Clifton Williams, who all died in crashes of T-38 aircraft.  Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space, met a similar fate in 1968, when he crashed in a Mig-15 jet while training for a Soyuz mission.  During the Apollo 15 mission in August 1971, the astronauts left behind a memorial in honor of all the people, both from the Soviet Union and the United States, who had perished during efforts to reach the moon. This included the Apollo 1 and Soyuz 1 crews, as well as astronauts and cosmonauts killed while in training.
In 1971, Soyuz 11 cosmonauts Georgi Dobrovolski, Viktor Patsayev and Vladislav Volkov all asphyxiated during reentry.
Lastly for the United States the Space Shuttle Challenger Disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when 73 seconds into its flight it broke apart and disintegrated.  Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, and Judith Resnick all perished in the disaster.
Personal note from the author – When considering the freedom of mankind, defending our rights as defined in the Constitution, not those imagined by ignorant sophomores, you must consider the price paid through soldiers from 1776 to date in the defense and support of our liberties and rights that are granted by God, declared by our founding fathers, and paid for by our military.  The extreme cost that has already been paid to secure our freedom and liberties should never be forgotten.  Whether the tyranny is cast upon us by fellow Americans (be it businesses or politicians), or foreign powers, we must defend our liberties.  The tremendous price is the lives of our family members who have died in the line of duty for freedom, justice, and the American way.

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Space Race (Part Two)

The Soviet Union achieved another first with dual-piloted flights, the Vostok 3 and Vostok 4, from August 11th through the 15th in 1962.  The two spacecraft came within four miles of each other.  The significant accomplishment of these flights was actually on the ground with being able to launch two spacecraft from the same pad in a very short time span.
Again the Soviets achieved another first when the first female, Valentina Tereshkova, was launched into space on June 16, 1963.  She was also the first civilian to go into space.  This was reportedly Korolev's idea, and accomplished purely for propaganda value.  It would be 1978 before the United States opened up the Space Program for women, and 1980 before the Russians would do so again.

When the Americans announced their ambitious plans for the Project Gemini which included two person spacecraft, the ability to change orbits, the ability to EVA (get out of the spacecraft), and the goal of docking with another craft, it forced the Soviets to modify the four remaining Vostok rockets to beat the Americans to the new size of flight crews, and the duration of missions.  In late 1963 they had four Vostoks in various stages of development.  Korolev had already begun designing the next generation of Soviet spacecraft, the Soyuz, which would have been comparable to the Gemini spacecraft and have similar capabilities.  Unfortunately the Soyuz wouldn't be available until at least 1966 and not in time to meet the new American challenge.

October 12, 1964, the Soviets achieved another victory in the race with the Voskhod 1, in which three cosmonauts in the first multi-person spacecraft was launched in a modified Vostok.  The Soviets achieved an additional breakthrough in performing the first shirt sleeve environment for the cosmonauts during this flight.  The breakthrough was not due to improved safety of the crafts environmental systems as it was due to necessity in that the three cosmonauts couldn't fit in the craft with their space suits on!  This feat wouldn't be repeated by the Americans until 1968 in the Apollo Command Module.

The "Wednesday Conspiracy", where Leonid Brezhnev and some high ranking Communist Party Officials deposed Premier Khrushchev as the government leader the day after Voskhod 1 landed.  The new leaders cancelled the Voskhod Program and focused the Soviet Space efforts at beating the Americans to the Moon!  They cancelled Voskhod 3 and 4 which were in various planning stages.  Korolev died in 1966 making the Voskhod 2 his final achievement before his death.  There was a two year pause in Soviet piloted space flights while a replacement for Korolev and his new Soyuz spacecraft was being designed and developed.

On March 18, 1965, Voskhod 2 was launched with two cosmonauts, Pavel Belyayev and Alexey Leonov.  This spacecraft had the first airlock and allowed Alexey Leonov to make the first ever EVA as part of the mission.  His suit expanded in the vacuum of space which threatened to prevent him from re-entering the spacecraft.  Improvising, he partially depressurized his space suit in order to re-enter the airlock.  Their ships environmental controls also filled the cabin of their ship with 45% pure oxygen which had to be lowered before attempting re-entry.  The spacecraft became unstable during re-entry because an instrument compartment's failure to detach from the ship and an improperly timed retro rocket firing caused them to land off course.

For the American side of the story please see the "Highlights Of Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo" post from Wednesday October 12, 2011, a little earlier this month.

The Soviet Union had planned to divide their lunar program into two separate manned programs: circumlunar flights in 1967 and lunar landings in 1968.

The circumlunar missions were to be launched by a UR-500 rocket, later known as the Proton. The cosmonauts would be flown to the Moon in the Soyuz 7K-L1 (Zond), which made four unsuccessful unmanned flights from 1967–1970.  One flight of the Zond was, however, successful and returned its non-human passengers (tortoises) to earth.  If you wonder why they were sending Tortoises into space in lieu of cosmonauts make sure to catch tomorrows post!

The Soviet lunar landing missions would use spacecraft derived from the Soyuz 7K-L1.  The orbital module (Soyuz 7K-L3), the "Lunniy Orbitalny Korabl" (LOK), had a crew of two.  The LOK and a separate lunar-lander, the "Lunnity Korabl" (LK).

The launch vehicle would have been the N1 rocket, which was roughly the same height and takeoff mass as the American Saturn V, exceeded its takeoff thrust by 28%, yet had roughly half the payload capability.  The N1 was unsuccessfully tested four times, exploding each time due to problems with the first stage's thirty engines.  Soviet government cancelled the program in 1970 after the first two successful American Moon landings.

Mankind made it to the Moon in under a decade from when Mr. Kennedy issued the challenge and direction to be taken.  There is something to be said for mankind in a determined effort to achieve his goals.  I still can't help but wonder what the world would look like today if Mr. Kennedy hadn't been assassinated.  If the United States and the Soviets would have joined forces, a combined International effort to reach the moon.  I can't speak from the Soviet side of the story but on the American side, the production of jobs, the pushing of technology, the mass of companies involved in getting a man to the Moon definitely was a push in a good direction.

I wonder if in the future a combined International effort to get mankind out into our solar system and beyond for the purposes of colonization and resource recovery wouldn't work to stabilize economies, help build cooperation internationally, and spur on science and technology but based on helping each other reach a common goal instead of piggy backing off of military technology.

Mankind hasn't found an intelligent means to resolve its differences since the dawn of time short of two sides trying to kill each other.  With the rise in religious strife between peoples of different faiths, as in days of old, the chance of future peace doesn't seem likely in the near future.  With extreme factions of religious groups saying convert or die, that doesn't leave a lot of room for discussion about the matter.  So I'll just keep contemplating man reaching for the stars in a fashion of International Peace and cooperation as I clean and oil my rifle.

"That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."  Neil Armstrong, the first man to step foot on the Moon.

Today in History October 28th

1886  The Statue of Liberty was dedicated by President Grover Cleveland.  It was a gift from France in honor of the friendship established with the United States during the American Revolution.  I do understand that our current Allies in Great Britain it is taught in school as the American Revolt, but I think we are long past those issues.  Originally titled "Liberty Enlightening the World", the statue was sculpted in copper by Fredric-Auguste Bartholdi, and the interior frame was engineered by Gustave Eiffel.  Gustave Eiffel was the chief engineer of the Eiffel Tower which still stands in Paris, France.
1919  Congress passed the Volstead Act, or the National Prohibition Act, over President Woodrow Wilson's veto.  We all know how that ended up!  Say Cheers to the fact that Congress is still as stupid and incompetent today as it was in 1919, as far as acting in the best interests of their constituents.
The Prohibition Act was repealed in 1933 by popular demand!  Wonder what acts this country will be Repealing in the near future?

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Space Race

As much as I hate to give the Nazi's credit for anything good, the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union can trace its origins to Nazi Germany.  Like so many times before in history, Military Technology, and the desire to kill our fellow human beings brought about great advances in Science and Technology.  Lt. Colonel Karl Emil Becker, the head of the German Army Ballistics and Munitions Branch, gathered a small team of engineers to figure out how to use rockets as long range artillery.  Walter Dornberger and Leo Zanssen were part of that team along with a young engineering prodigy by the name of Wernher von Braun, in 1932.  Von Braun dreamed about mankind going into outer space with the use of rockets.

General Dornberger was the military head of the army's rocket program, Zanssen became the commandant of the Peenemunde army rocket centre, and Von Braun was the technical director of the ballistic missile program.  The team collaboration developed the Aggregate-4(A-4) rocket, which became the first vehicle to reach outer space during a test flight in 1942 and 1943.  By 1943 Germany was mass producing the A-4, Vergeltungswaffe 2 "Vengeance Weapon" 2, or V2, a ballistic missile with a 200 mile range carrying a 2,500 pound warhead at 2,500 miles per hour.  The supersonic speed meant there was no defense against it.  Radar detection provided little to no warning.  Germany used the weapons to bombard southern England and parts of Allied-liberated Western Europe from 1944 through 1945.

Operation Paperclip was an American Operation of acquiring scientific personnel, technology, and equipment from the Germans as the country fell into Allied hands.  The U.S., Great Britain, and the Soviets competed to capture information, technology, and the personnel responsible for developing it.  The U.S. recruited Von Braun and most of his engineering team, along with a large number of complete V2 rockets.

The Soviets main Engineer was Sergei Korolev, originally arrested in 1938 during Joseph Stalin's Great Purge and was imprisoned for six years in Siberia.  After the war he became the USSR's chief rocket and spacecraft engineer.  His identity was kept a state secret throughout the Cold War.  He was publicly identified as "the Chief Designer" during that entire time and only became known after his death in 1966.  By 1948 Korolev's team reversed engineered a version of the German A-4, and called it the R-1.  By 1949 they had developed their own designs and produced the G4-R10 design, and the German scientists they had captured after the war were repatriated between 1951 – 1953.

In America under Von Braun using V2 Rockets led to the WAC Corporal-V2 combination in 1949 which took the first photographs from outer space and the first two-staged rocket.  Von Braun's team also developed the first U.S. medium-range ballistic missile, the Redstone Rocket.  The Redstone rocket in a slightly modified version would launch both of America's first satellite and the first piloted Mercury space missions.  This was the forerunner of the Jupiter and Saturn rocket families.

The Cold War (1947–1991) developed between two former allies, the United States and the Soviet Union, soon after the end of the Second World War.  It involved a continuing state of conflict, military tension, and extreme competition between the Soviet Union and the Western World, particularly the United States.  Espionage, propaganda, a nuclear arms race, economic and technological competitions grew out of this pressure, and the Space Race was a primary playing field of this competition.  This mostly grew out of the uneasiness that America had lost its monopoly on the Atomic Bomb when the Soviets detonated a nuclear weapon in August 29, 1949.  Fear of Communism and being attacked and annihilated by the Soviets pushed the Americans, and fear of American superiority and the spread of Capitalism pushed the Soviets.  Both sides were afraid of their former allies from World War II.

The United States had a larger Air Force, so the Soviets developed ICBM's.  Since they were developing ICBM's then so did the United States.  Each side was escalating their efforts to counter the perceived threat of the other.  In 1953 the Soviets, under Korolev, developed the R-7 Semyorka rocket which incorporated staged design, new control systems, and a new fuel, even though some parts of the boosters were notably throwbacks to the German V2.  On August 21, 1957, the Soviets tested this new rocket and a month later the first fully operational ICBM was created.  It would later be used to launch the first satellite into outer space, and other versions of this design would launch all piloted Soviet Spacecrafts.

The United States ICBM program MX-1593 evolved to become the Atlas-A, with its first launch occurring on June 11, 1957.  Later the Atlas-D rocket would serve as the United States first ICBM and be used as the orbital launch vehicle for the Project Mercury and the remote-controlled Agena Target Vehicle used in Project Gemini.

The line drawn in the sand that was the official start of the Space Race was July 29, 1955, when James Hagerty, President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s press secretary, announced that the United States intended to launch small Earth circling satellites between July 1, 1957 and December 31, 1958.  Four days later scientist Leonid I. Sedov spoke to international reporters at the Soviet embassy and announced his countries intention to launch a satellite as well in the near future.  On August 30, 1955, Korolev managed to get the Soviet Academy of Sciences to create a commission whose purpose was to beat the Americans into Earth orbit.  Game ON, the race was on!

Initially, President Eisenhower was worried that a satellite passing above a nation might be construed as violating that nation's sovereign airspace.  He was concerned that the Soviet Union would accuse the Americans of an illegal over flight, thereby scoring a propaganda victory at his expense.  Eisenhower also feared that he might cause an international incident and be called a "Warmonger" if he were to use military missiles as launchers.  Therefore he selected the untried Vanguard rocket, which was a research-only booster.  This meant that von Braun's team was not allowed to put a satellite into orbit with their Jupiter-C rocket, because of its intended use as a future military vehicle.  On September 20, 1956, Von Braun and his team did launch a Jupiter-C that was capable of putting a satellite into orbit; however the launch was used only as a suborbital test of nose cone reentry technology.  Had Von Braun's team been allowed to orbit a satellite in 1956, the Space Race might have been over before it really began.

The Soviets thought Von Braun's launch was a failed Satellite launch and increased their efforts to get a satellite into orbit.  Their Object D satellite would dwarf the Americans efforts, but by February 1957, Korolev sought permission for a simple satellite, because things were not going well with the design and manufacturing of the Object D satellite.  The new simple satellite would be known as Sputnik, weighing only 185 pounds, but would have two radio transmitters operating on different short wave radio frequencies.  The Soviets had two successful launches of their R-7 rockets in August and September, paving the way for the launch of Sputnik.

The Soviets got word the Americans planning to announce a major breakthrough on October 6.  They rallied and moved up the launch to Friday, October 4, 1957, when they successfully launched Sputnik 1 and placed a satellite into orbit.    The Sputnik 1 continued for 22 days.  The first satellite launched into orbit by mankind!

President Eisenhower ordered the civilian rocket and satellite project, Vanguard, to move up its timetable and launch its satellite much sooner than originally planned.  December 6, 1957, Project Vanguard launch failure occurred at Cape Canaveral in front of a live broadcast television audience.  This public failure got Von Braun’s team the go ahead to use their Jupiter-C rocket as soon as they could.  Within four months of Sputnik’s launch, Von Braun’s team launched the Explorer 1 satellite using military rocket renamed Juno 1.  Explorer 1 confirmed the existence of an Earth encompassing radiation belt, previously theorized by James Van Allen.

On 12 April 1961, the Soviet Union won the race with the United States to get a human into space, when Yugi Gagarin was launched into orbit around the Earth on Vostk 1.  They called Gagarin the first cosmonaut, roughly translated from Russian and Greek as "sailor of the universe".  Although he had the ability to take over manual control of his spacecraft in an emergency, it was flown in an automatic mode as a precaution.  Vostok 1 orbited the Earth for 108 minutes and made its reentry over the Soviet Union, with Gagarin ejecting from the spacecraft and landing by parachute.  Under the qualifying rules for aeronautical records, pilots must both take off and land with their craft, so the Soviets kept the landing procedures secret until 1978, when they finally admitted that Gagarin did not land with his spacecraft.  When the flight was publicly announced, it was celebrated around the world as a great triumph, not just for the Soviet Union, but for the world itself, though it once again spurred the Americans on in their efforts to beat the Soviets.

The United States called their space travelers astronauts "star sailors" from the Greek, and it was 3 weeks later, on May 5, 1961, when Alan Shepard became the first astronaut in space.  In a space craft named Freedom 7, launched on a suborbital mission Mercury-Redstone 3, it did not achieve orbit, but did exercise manual control over his spacecraft's attitude and retro-rocket firing.

The first Soviet cosmonaut to exercise manual control was Gherman Titov in the Vostok 2 on August 6, 1961.
February 20, 1962, John Glen became the first astronaut to orbit the Earth in a Mercury-Atlas 6 in the Friendship 7 spacecraft and splashed down safely in the Atlantic Ocean.  Re-entry was tense because the ships telemetry data said the heat shield was loose.

On May 25, 1961, Kennedy announced his support for the Apollo Program and redefined the ultimate goal of the Space Race in an address to a special joint session of Congress.

"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth." President John F. Kennedy

On September 20, 1963, in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, President Kennedy proposed that the United States and the Soviet Union join forces in their efforts to reach the moon.  Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev initially rejected Kennedy's proposal, however during the next few weeks he concluded that both nations might realize cost benefits and technological gains from a joint venture.  Khrushchev was poised to accept Kennedy's proposal at the time of Kennedy's assassination in November 1963.

Khrushchev and Kennedy had developed a measure of rapport during their years as leaders of the world's two superpowers, especially during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. That trust was lacking with Vice President Johnson.  When Johnson assumed the Presidency after Kennedy's assassination, Khrushchev dropped the idea of a joint U.S.-U.S.S.R. moon program.

Could the willingness of Kennedy to work with the Soviets and share technology be one of the many reasons the powers that be, (Them), had Mr. Kennedy assassinated?  Could the Cold War have been ended and a state of cooperation been entered into by the two superpowers of the world in the early 1960's?  Could the conquest of space be a platform to World Peace and cooperation among the countries of the world?  One can only ponder the ramifications of our past.  When we the people of the world Unite and say "NO MORE" to the powers that be?  When will we stop letting them play with our futures like mice in mazes?  They tell us what energy we will use, what cars we will buy, and rob from the common working man to get their stooges elected to do their bidding.  If the stooges don't play well with their handlers they shoot them, publically, making a statement for those that follow in their footsteps.

They promise clean energy, population control, fuel efficient vehicles, a better education system for our children, and better standard of living, and they keep on doing the same crap over and over again.  They think the general population is made up of idiots, and they do not fear the people.  Our founding fathers warned us of these times, and they called it Tyranny!

End of Part One  .  .  .  Check back for the continuation, The Race for Space focuses on the Moon!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Gunfight at the O.K. Corral

The gunfight actually occurred in a narrow lot six doors west of the rear entrance to the O.K. Corral on Fremont Street.  Most of what is known of the fight is based off of a month long preliminary hearing held afterward that became known as the "Spicer Hearings."  Reporters from both newspapers covered the hearings.  The testimony's and reporting of the events differ greatly.  The Earp Brothers and Doc Holliday were charged by Billy Clanton's brother, Ike Clanton, and were later exonerated by a local judge after the preliminary hearing and again later by a local grand jury.
On the evening of October 25, Tom McLaury and Ike Clanton came to Tombstone to sell beef stock to a local butcher.  Later that evening, Ike and Doc Holliday had a confrontation and Morgan Earp intervened.  Ike threatened the Earp's again.  The Earp's and the Clanton's had repeated disagreements about breaking the law, stealing mules, and robbing stagecoaches.  On the morning of the 26th, Virgil "buffaloed" (pistol whipped) Ike and disarmed him after finding Ike illegally carrying a revolver.  At that time it was illegal to carry your firearm within the city limits.
Wyatt Earp buffaloed Tom McLaury for the same reason shortly afterward.  Later that afternoon, alarmed citizens spotted Billy Clanton, Tom McLaury and Frank McLaury armed in public off Fremont Street.  When both Sheriff Johnny Behan and shortly afterward Marshal Virgil Earp demanded they give up their weapons, as required by a city ordinance, they refused.
The gunfight was a roughly 30-seconds long and took place at about 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday October 26, 1881 in Tombstone, Arizona Territory.  Approximately 31 shots were fired within the thirty-second moment.  Frank McLaury, Tom McLaury and Billy Clanton were killed.  Ike Clanton and Billy Claiborne fled and survived.  Morgan Earp, Virgil Earp, and Doc Holliday were wounded and survived.  One reoccurring theme is that Doc Holliday had a shotgun in hand going into the fight when he was well known as being an excellent shot and having lived through numerous gunfights in his past.  There is no mention that Sheriff Johnny Behan was in the fight at all.  Wyatt Earp was the only individual who came through the fight unharmed.  It is generally regarded as the most famous gunfight in the history of the Old West.
On December 28, 1881, Virgil Earp was maimed in an assassination attempt by outlaw Cowboys.  Cowboys were another name for rustlers or outlaws, and it would have been an insult to call respectable Cattlemen a Cowboy.  On March 19, 1882, Cowboy's assassinated Morgan Earp.  This led to a series of further killings and retributions, with federal and county lawmen supporting different sides of the conflict, which became known as the Earp Vendetta Ride.
The gunfight was relatively unknown to the American public until 1931 when author Stuart Lake published a fictionalized biography, "Wyatt Earp: Frontier Marshal," two years after Wyatt's death.  After the movie Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was released in 1957, the gunfight became known by that name.  It's amazing the stories and movies that have been made about one thirty-second moment in history.
Fast is fine, but accuracy is everything.  -  Wyatt Earp
One side note about Thomas Wilson, future New York Times Best Selling Author.
As a child in Idaho we had to Haul Water.  What that means to the Industrialized World is that we had to make several trips, every week, to a natural spring to fill up a 500 gallon water tank.  The tank was chained to the back of an old nineteen fifties something truck and we hauled water to our property to put into another tank in the ground.  Then an electric pump would pump the water into the mobile home trailer that we lived in, out in the woods.
Beside the natural spring was a shooting range set up against the base of the mountain.  While families would wait their turn and waiting for trucks to fill up, everybody would teach their children and wives to shoot.  My mom was the best shot in our family.  I learned to be a crack shot with a rifle and to blow the top off a fence post with a black powder pistol.  I was never allowed by my father to draw the pistol from the holster and shoot it, for fear I might shoot my foot off.  Dad always insisted on safety first.  I did practice all the time drawing a play gun from a holster, as did all kids from that area in my day.
My daughter, years later wondered how her old dad developed such fast hands when we played the hand slap together.  It came from years of Imagining I was Wyatt Earp at the O.K. Corral.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Pulitzer Prize

The Pulitzer Prize was established by American (Hungarian-born) publisher Joseph Pulitzer.  Joseph was a journalist and newspaper publisher, who founded the "St. Louis Dispatch."  Pulitzer left money to Columbia University upon his death in 1911, a portion of which was used to found the University's school of journalism in 1912.  The prizes are awarded yearly in twenty-one categories.  In twenty of these, each winner receives a certificate and a $10,000 dollar cash award.  The winner in the public service category of the journalism competition is awarded a gold medal, which usually goes to a newspaper.  Awards are given for achievements in newspaper, on-line journalism, literature, and musical composition.
The Pulitzer Prize does not automatically evaluate all applicable works in the media, but only those that have been entered with a $50 entry fee (one per desired entry category).  Entries must fit in at least one of the specific prize categories, and cannot simply gain entrance on the grounds of having general literary or compositional properties.  Works can also only be entered into a maximum of two prize categories, regardless of their properties.
Each year, 102 judges are selected to "serve on 20 separate juries" for the 21 award categories (one jury for both photography awards).  Most of the juries consist of five members, except for those of "public service, investigative reporting, beat reporting, feature writing and commentary categories", which have seven members.  For each award category, a jury makes three nominations.  The board selects the winner by majority vote from the nominations or bypass the nominations and select a different entry with a 75% majority vote.  The board can also vote no award.  The board gets no compensation for its work.  The jurors in letters, music, and drama get a $2000 honorarium for the year, while each chair gets $2500.
On this Date in History, October 25, 1962, John Steinbeck was awarded the Noble Prize in literature.  He was best known for the Pulitzer Prize –winning novels "The Grapes of Wrath" and "Of Mice and Men."
As a writer one can only dream of reaching such heights of Greatness!!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Fight or Flight

Fight or Flight is an instinct that almost every human has ingrained in them from their DNA from centuries of those who came before us having to fight for their survival.  Since the dawn of time when faced with predator animals, to those of our own kind, mankind has had to run away, fight or die, sometimes fight and die.
If you have ever been in the woods and wandered upon a wild animal by accident, such as a cougar, mountain lion, or a bear, you know the feeling I am describing.  If you ever have been put in a situation where you had to fight or get the crap knocked out of you, you know what I am talking about.  If you have ever had to dig a foxhole and guard it and your fire zone throughout the night, you know what I am talking about. It is fight, get beat, or die!  Sometimes the option of running is not an option.
When I read about the history of warfare and the countless battles people of Earth have fought against own kind.  When I think about how much of our technology is based off military technology passed down through the ages.  I sometimes try and contemplate how different our planet would be if mankind could learn to work together for the betterment of the species, US!  What technology would we not have, but what technology would have advanced in a peaceful society?  What if mankind never developed the fight or flight response, because we never needed to? 
My second novel grew out of this thinking.  I don’t fully explore this theme in the first book, but it does set the stage for the second and third books.  I like to write things that subtly mess you.  Things that maybe everybody doesn’t quite agree with, that everybody is not quite comfortable with.  I want to get people to think about their beliefs and why they believe them.  In the context of a Science Fiction novel you have to think what would you do if you were placed in a similar circumstance? 
I would love to see world peace but I don’t think mankind as a whole is sufficiently up to the task mentally.  I honestly feel the only way world peace is going to manifest itself is when an alien race presents itself as a common enemy set on destroying Earth and all humans.  Our nature ingrained programming will rise up and the survival instinct present in everybody will override all the ME, ME, ME bullshit we have come to believe is our due, and we will FIGHT.
I have done considerable posts on Thomas Jefferson lately and read a bunch of his writings lately, especially the Declaration Of Independence!  We are to have a pursuit of happiness!
We are not guaranteed happiness, or success, that you have to work for and establish on your own!  If you’re not happy with the way things are don’t go occupy anything.  Get off your lazy ass and work for what you want. 
For those who do work and have jobs you should in no way be upset that my newest offering is priced at 4.99.  That’s half the price of a new release from a major well known author, and I realize if I ever want to stay home and write more and better books, I need to charge for them.  When I publish my next book I will put it at 4.99 and drop this one to 3.99, and eventually they will all end up at .99 cents.  I gave my first novel away left and right just to get people to try my work.  In light of my support for Capitalism and the American way of working for what you want, instead of occupying some place with your freaking hand out for somebody to give you something you don’t deserve I am charging for my book. 
So for the reading, intelligent community who have a job and can afford to purchase books, I want to ask people to try my newest Novel!!
As an E-book.
Or in paperback.

It’s definitely worth $4.99. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The death of the query letter!

As Self-Publishing becomes more prolific and even big name established authors choosing to self-publish in order to get a bigger share of the royalties, the traditional publishing model will continue to decline.

The Traditional model has been write a Query Letter, to get noticed and discovered by literary agent.  The books, blogs, and ways to write a query letter are about as varied as stories of how well they work, when should they be mailed, the ratios of ignores and refusals to those answered asking for a partial or whole manuscript.  Once you get noticed by a literary agent your story may or may not get sold.

Of the very little percentage of the entire population who wants to write a novel only a small percentage of them will actually finish.  Of those there is still a hard core group who dream of traditional publishing, and are still lining them selves up for years of therapy after all those rejections and the mountain of spent mail which will never even be answered.

On the other hand there is a flood of those who could never write a query letter who are jumping straight into the world of self-publishing.  There is a tidal wave of books showing up on the virtual market.  In the past only handful of books that were written ever saw the light of day as published books.  Today any book can become a published book.  The virtual slush pile is growing but now it is up to the reading public to decide what will sell and what will be ignored.

What does the Traditional Publishing Model have to offer these days?
It used to be the turning your manuscript into a real book, professionalism of Editing, cover design, and marketing!  With money you can by editing, professional cover design, and even an awesome array of strategies of marketing.  As far as having a printed book, there are many outsourcing means for printing your E-books.  CreateSpace and some like companies will actually print the books as you sell them.

A market I do see is for the Indie Authors who are writing incredible books and don’t have the money to purchase the outside help of editing, cover designs, or marketing.  They need the last vestiges of services the Traditional Publishers offer.  But then the model and system in which these systems work will never discover a independently published author because there is no query letter, no agent, and no author panting at their door with their tail wagging, yapping ‘Pick Me’.

Of all the people in the world who want their books published the traditional published model will still have more stuff to pick from than they can possibly choose or gamble on.  They won’t realize how bad it is until the scales have tipped and the dam breaks and there is no stopping or saving the traditional system.

I have mentioned this in the past, and I will restate it again here.  There are bunches of people who read and review books.  If I were a manager of a traditional publishing house, I would offer to put some of these readers and reviewers on staff on a slight retainer type basis.  So when they run across a truly awesome book, a new Harry Potter series, the next Stephen King, the next F. Scott Fitzgerald, the next GREAT AUTHOR, that they get on the phone and submit it directly to somebody at the literary agency.  If this undiscovered author is luckily not the most grammatically correct, doesn’t have the best cover art for their book, and little to no marketing, then they should hunt them down and sign them up.

The flip side of this is all ready happening.
When a Indie Author has sales that skyrocket to great unrealistic numbers coming right out of the gate, the publishers are jumping on them.  The problem with this model is that it will by pass the literary agent.  There is room in the future for literary agents, authors, and publishers.

If things don’t change the first to become extinct will be the agents, second the publishers and traditional books stores.  The authors and the readers will survive because ultimately that is the market.
I am an Indie Author who is learning, and getting editing help.  I am developing my artistic skills to the digital world.  As far as marketing, the Internet is reinventing how to get your word out in new and ever changing ways everyday.  As the techno machines get more prolific and the ways of sharing, communicating, tweeting, and social networking evolve so will E-marketing.  The people selling and socializing are rewriting the rules and books on E-Marketing weekly.

There is also a growth of groups of authors, editors, artists, and movie makers who are combining their efforts to turn out books just as professional as the Traditional Publishing Model, except they are also working collectively to market the efforts of the entire group through the medium of new books being published.  This may very well be the future of the traditional publishing model, after the big houses have become extinct.

The biggest seller of books through the ages is word of mouth.  Which books do people talk about and recommend to other people?  The Good Ones.  Want to sell more books?  Write better books!!  The mechanics of English, grammar, and spelling, can be learned and bought.  Imagination, how to tell a story, twist a plot, surprise your reader, intrigue your reader, hook them, and force them to turn pages and put their hectic lives on hold until they finish your book, cannot be taught.  You can take class after class and write a hundred books, you either have it or you don’t.  The one things all readers have in common who read all the time - we all know Good Writing when we read it.

The biggest of storms announces itself as a simple breeze.  The breeze was in 2008.  The wind is blowing in the face of traditional publishing.  There is a hurricane off the coast and the only ones who are truly immune are the writers and readers.

Final note is that it is a readers market.  There is more stuff to read, from the past, current, new works, traditionally published works, for money down to Free.  There is more to read than ever before in the history of mankind.  Enjoy, and wade into it, because frankly there is more to read than we can read in a life time.  Readers have the right and are becoming more choosy about what we will waste our time reading.  Our time is precious, and the works plentiful.  I have enough real books and e-books to keep me reading for the next few years.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Forgotten Pleasures

My wife and oldest son went to Arkansas with her family to bury her Great Grandmother with her husband and the rest of her family.  They left Garth, my one and a half year old, and me here yesterday night around 5:30PM.  Garth goes down around 7:30, so last night was uneventful except finishing watching the documentary series about Thomas Jefferson I started a week ago.  That’s why I have had all the posts about Jefferson lately.  He was amazing to say the least.
He died on the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration Of Independence, so did his old friend John Adams.  July 4th, 1826.  John Adam’s last words were Jefferson still lives, except he didn’t know Jefferson had also passed just a few hours before.  They both held on for the Anniversary of their Great Achievement, The Great Experiment, Democracy, The United States of America!
Garth and I slept in until 9 this morning, had hot tea with milk and sugar, and waffles, with butter and syrup.  He loves his hot tea, just like his Daddy.  We did some running around, dropped by the house to drop off our groceries, switched the laundry, and then off to my parents house for a visit.  More Hot Tea!  That’s where I got it from.  We’re Scottish but we drink more tea than the English.  Garth still full from all the waffles, didn’t want lunch, so we went home folded clothes and then it was nap time.  Daddy laid down with him and we both had a beautiful afternoon nap together.  When we go up we did Garth’s two most favorite things.  We went outside, and we played in the dirt.
If that kid could live outside and sleep outside he would.  He loves it outside and never wants to come in the house.  I put wiffle balls on the tee ball stand, while he knocked them across the yard.  At one and a half this kid who is only as tall as the bat can hit a ball off the stand and knock it half way across the yard.  Daddy is the ball placer and runner to get the balls.  Daddy frankly needs the exercise.  When he was tired of hitting balls we grabbed the Tonka trucks and sat in the part of the yard I have never been able to get grass to grow in, and Daddy and Son sat in the dirt and played.
I remember as a child in Idaho where I would sit in a pile of dusty dirt playing, digging, getting as much dirt on me as I did in the back of the dump truck.  Garth was having a ball.  Unlike my father I sat right down there with him and got filthy.  God it was great.  It was like being transported back forty or more years.  The crisp fall air, leaves all over the place, blue jeans that looked brown from the dirt.  We dug, dumped, filled trucks, used the front loader to fill the truck.  We both had trouble getting up when we were done, Garth because he’s only one and half, and me because I am forty-five and am not used to sitting on my butt on the ground.
My dad would get mad at me when I was a kid about coming home covered in dirt, and gripe about the state of my clothes.  Garth and I dusted our selves off, went inside and washed our hands and faces, he got a diaper change, and then we fixed dinner.  After dinner it was playing make believe, him bringing me book after book to read until it was bath time.  After a bath and jammies, we read more books, a couple of songs, and then he went to bed.  I can’t remember such a tiring, but fun and soul fulfilling day in years.  Mommy and brother should be back sometime late tonight.  The whole family will be together for breakfast.  And Yes More Tea.
Garth asked about More Tea about six times while getting ready for bed.  I hadn’t posted anything because I was busy being a little boy again with my son.  As I get ready to get back to working on my novel before bed four hours from now, I feel tired but my soul and heart stills has that child like spirit again.  Children can be irritating, troublesome, and make you want to scream sometimes.  They can also remind you of the wonder of reading, discovering stories, imagining, dressing up, coloring, playing with match box and hot wheel cars.  Sitting in dirt, feeling just fall through your fingers, feeling the fall sun on your face, the crisp air, and transport you to lost times and forgotten pleasures of life.  God Bless them.  God Thank You for my children!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Thomas Jefferson

At 5, began studying under his cousins tutor.
At 9, studied Latin, Greek and French.
At 14, studied classical literature and additional languages.
At 16, entered the College of William and Mary.
At 19, studied Law for 5 years starting under George Wythe.
At 23, started his own law practice.
At 25, was elected to the Virginia House of Burgesses.
At 31, wrote the widely circulated "Summary View of the Rights of British America " and retired from his law practice.
At 32, was a Delegate to the Second Continental Congress.
At 33, wrote the Declaration of Independence.
At 33, took three years to revise Virginia 's legal code and wrote a Public Education bill and a statute for Religious Freedom.
At 36, was elected the second Governor of Virginia succeeding Patrick Henry.
At 40, served in Congress for two years.
At 41, was the American minister to France and negotiated commercial treaties with European nations along with Ben Franklin and John Adams.
At 46, served as the first Secretary of State under George Washington.
At 53, served as Vice President and was elected president of the American Philosophical Society.
At 55, drafted the Kentucky Resolutions and became the active head of Republican Party.
At 57, was elected the third president of the United States.
At 60, obtained the Louisiana Purchase doubling the nation's size.
At 61, was elected to a second term as President.
At 65, retired to Monticello.
At 80, helped President Monroe shape the Monroe Doctrine.
At 81, almost single-handedly created the University of Virginia and served as its first president.
At 83, died on the 50th anniversary of the Signing of the Declaration of Independence.
John F. Kennedy held a dinner in the white House for a group of the brightest minds in the nation at that time. He made this statement:  "This is perhaps the assembly of the most intelligence ever to gather at one time in the White House with the exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."
When we get piled upon one another in large cities, as in Europe, we shall become as corrupt as Europe.  -  Thomas Jefferson
The democracy will cease to exist when you take away from those who are willing to work and give to those who would not.  -  Thomas Jefferson
It is incumbent on every generation to pay its own debts as it goes.  A principle which if acted on would save one-half the wars of the world.  -  Thomas Jefferson
I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them.  -  Thomas Jefferson
My reading of history convinces me that most bad government results from too much government.  -  Thomas Jefferson
No free man shall ever be debarred the use of arms.  -  Thomas Jefferson
The strongest reason for the people to retain the right to keep and bear arms is, as a last resort, to protect themselves against tyranny in government.  -  Thomas Jefferson
The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.  -  Thomas Jefferson
To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.  -  Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson said in 1802:  I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies.  If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around the banks will deprive the people of all property - until their children wake-up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.

How will you be remembered?

Up until yesterday on my wife's side of the family we had five generations living.  My wife lost her Great Grandmother yesterday.  At one point when my daughter was very young on her mother's side of the family we had five generations alive for a short while.  In each case we have pictures with all five members together.  That doesn't happen very often.
At times like this where life confronts us with our own mortality I think about how I will be remembered.
You will be remembered for the person you ARE!  You will be remembered for the accomplishments you achieved in your life.  You will be remembered for those you left behind, your family members.
I once had a regular acquaintance with a man who owned several companies, had helped save countless other companies.  He was very knowledgeable in the art of motivating and paying people for the work they do.  Needless to say every company he owned was highly successful, because he watched and monitored them, and because everyone who worked for him got a bonus based off the performance of the company.  The guy is a genius who has forgotten more about marketing than anybody on Madison Avenue will ever learn in their lifetime.
The most amazing thing about this gentleman is the fact that no matter what you do for a living, no matter what your station in life, this man would make you feel important by stopping and listening to you.  He really listened and paid attention to people, all people.  He was genuinely interested in people and what they were doing, where they were from.  He loved people.  This only added to his genius by making him liked by everybody he ever met.  He was intelligent, charismatic, charming, jolly, and interesting, but if you were not careful you would be the only one talking.  He listened very well.
When I think about how I would like to be remembered, I think of this man.  I strive to be like him in the way that he treated others.  I strive to listen to others, and try to be genuinely interested in what others are doing and interested in them.  It is hard for me.  I have no trouble hearing and consider myself a very good listener.  As a fledgling writer, everybody has to tell me about their great idea for a book.  It is hard to listen when I know that no matter how great their idea is I will not use it.  If I don't come up with the story myself and make up the characters, the scenes, and twist the plot until I start to confuse myself, then I will not touch it.  I will always be this way for all the obvious reasons.  The IDEAS are the easy part.  I have enough ideas to keep me writing for the next twenty years.  It's the writing every day, the re-writing, editing, re-submitting for further editing, re-writing again.  Going through the same story so many times over months that you feel you are going to freak out!  That's the hard part!
I do like people on a one on one basis.  I am not and cannot be interested in everybody all the time.  I try like hell to be open minded, and seek out the inner beauty in people.  There are some people who are not nice, no matter which way you slice it.  There are some people whose view of the world is so far off quilter and out of whack that I end up doing my best Dean Martin straight man imitation while asking questions and trying not to laugh out loud at their answers.  You walk away thinking OMG I hope this person never breeds because we will end up going backwards in regards to evolution.  I envision an entire family like turkeys looking up into a rain storm and drowning themselves.  My wife hates it when she notices me switch to the Dean Martin persona and that I am pretending to be truly interested and asking questions in order to further my own sick humor at their expense.  I do pride myself in not letting these people know that I am being a truly horrible person by encouraging them to continue their moronic ramblings.  Though the result is generally that they remember me as a wonderful person who was truly interested in them and generally have adopted another village idiot as a best friend for life!
I do hope I am remembered as a writer.  I think all writers have the common dream rattling around in their head.  We all write to write a masterpiece of literature that people will be reading and quoting from a hundred years after we are gone.  Like Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Alexandre Dumas, Charles Dickens, Jane Austin, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Victor Hugo, Edgar Allen Poe, or even Thomas Jefferson.  To write something that will change the world.  Something people make everyday references to that you originally penned!  Something everybody is familiar with or at least heard of.
I hope I am remembered as intelligent, a hard a driven worker, a loving husband, and a strong and firm father who if nothing else raised his children up to be intelligent, not afraid to break a sweat, and ready to deal with the real world with old school values.  I hope I am remembered as being honest, and true, not one to ever put on airs for somebody else.  I have no fashion sense and even my clean work jeans look dirty, my shoes look used hard, my watch is scraped and worn.  I am very often completely underestimated, over looked, counted out, but I like that!  I love to watch people's expressions change as they get to know me and realize the folly of their snap predetermined judgments about me.
How will you be remembered?  What are you like?  How do you treat people?  What are your accomplishments?  Do you have a family?
Think about it!  If you're reading this it's not too late to change.  Once you're dead your reputation will be set, your acquaintances made, your accomplishments finished.  What will they say about you?  How will you be remembered?

 
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