Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Roswell Revisited

Let’s jump off the deep end here and talk about something different today. That’s the whole idea, isn’t it? Keeping it fresh? Well, see if you like this subject.

The 1950s were a special time. The war was over. Everything was modern and new. It was the beginning of the Space Age. We had created and exploded the atomic bomb. And a group of aliens had crashed their small craft near a farm in Roswell, New Mexico just three years earlier. Just your typical decade, right? The event in Roswell may have been the catalyst, because from that day on, America’s attention was drawn to the skies and to outer space and whatever might live there.

Although Roswell is perhaps the most publicized and best-known of the alien encounters, there were others during the fifties that may be of some interest to some of you. I’ve listed four of them below for your enjoyment.


While sitting outside one evening, a group of Texas Tech professors saw several groups of racing. When the sighting was reported, the Air Force denied that any planes were flying that night. Cart Hart, Jr. (18 years old at the time) took five photographs of the objects, which have become known as the Lubbock Lights.


In 1952, the White House, the Capitol Building, and the Pentagon were buzzed by UFOs. On July 19 of that year, a number of UFO blips were picked up on the radar screens at Washington National Airport and Andrews Air Force Base. This was the beginning of a wave of sightings that still remain unexplained. Numerous photographs were taken of the unknown objects.


One of the most bizarre accounts of alien contact on record occurred at the Sutton family farmhouse. It was under siege from small alien beings for several hours one night. Family members shot at the beings, but without effect. Family members later drew pictures of the strange beings, showing claw-like hands and large ears. Their account of the incident has never been debunked.


It was a night of terror in a small Texas town. There were no less than 8 official sightings, including policemen. Reports included sightings of UFOs flying, hovering, and even landing on the roads around Levelland. Police officers gave testimony to the US Air Force. This remains one of the best documented cases in the history of UFO encounters.

That's it for today. My wife has been telling me that my posts are too long and boring. She's a UFO officianado, so maybe she'll like this one and not complain about it. If you know anyone who likes to read about UFOs, feel free to pass this along to them. Or send them the web address. The more, the merrier.

Finally, if you've had a UFO encounter, hit that pesky COMMENT link below and tell us about it. I'm sure there are a lot of readers out there that would eat it up. And if the whole subject of UFOs interests you, here's a great site with tons of interesting stuff. Right HERE.

Until next time, have a great day! And keep looking up. They may be looking back.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Duck and Cover

On this day in 1955, the United States nuclear-powered submarine began it’s first test voyage. It was seen as a positive use of nuclear energy and much different from the bombs and missiles that had become such a threat during the Cold War.

It all began in 1949. The United States’ monopoly on nuclear weapons ended when the Soviet Union tested its first nuclear device. With nuclear weapons in the hands of our enemy, the US became much more vulnerable to attack than it had ever been previously. And America needed answers on how to protect themselves in the event of a nuclear bomb.

From Wikipedia: Duck-and-cover exercises quickly became a part of Civil Defense drills. Every American citizen, from children to the elderly, practiced these in order to be ready in the event of nuclear war. In 1950, the movie Duck and Cover was produced.

However, duck and cover was not a one-size-fits-all solution to prevent injury in the event of a nuclear explosion. In fact—depending on the explosion's height and yield—ducking and covering would offer negligible protection against the intense heat, shock waves, and radiation that would accompany and follow such a nuclear detonation.

According to Wikipedia: The advice to "duck and cover" holds well in many situations where structural destabilization or debris may be expected, such as during an earthquake or tornado. At a sufficient distance from a nuclear explosion, the shock wave would produce similar results and ducking and covering would perhaps prove adequate. It would also offer some protection from flying glass and other small, but dangerous, debris.

Ducking and covering would also reduce exposure to the gamma rays. Since they are mostly emitted in a straight line, people on the ground will have more chance to have obstacles such as building foundations, cars, etc. between them and the source of radiation. The technique offers a small protection against fallout - people standing up could receive a large, possibly lethal, dose of radiation, while people protected will receive less of it. The technique assumes that after the initial blast, a person who ducks and covers will move to a more sheltered area. It is a first response only.

Duck and Cover was a suggested method of personal protection against the effects of a nuclear weapon, which the United States government taught to generations of United States school children from the early 1950s into the 1980s. This was supposed to protect them in the event of an unexpected nuclear attack that, they were told, could come at any time without warning. Immediately after they saw a flash they had to stop what they were doing and get on the ground under some cover—such as a table, or at least next to a wall—and assume the fetal position, lying face-down and covering their heads with their hands.

Proponents argued that thousands could be saved through this precaution, without which people would instead run to windows to find the source of the big flash. During this time a shock wave would cause a glass implosion, shredding onlookers.

So, there’s some concern that the duck and cover procedure would be effective in reducing physical damage. Fortunately, we haven’t needed to test it so far. Let’s hope it stays that way. Meanwhile, if you want to practice the procedure again, just to see if your old bones can still bend like they did in 1955, check out that video again.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Technology - Past and Present

This evening we decided to go to Chili's for dinner. I had won a major award (the hell you say!) at work consisting of a $25 gift card to any Chili's in the country. My wife selected one in the nearby village of Lee's Summit. I would have preferred the one on Rosecranz in San Diego, but, as she pointed out, that one is about 1,500 miles from here and I have to go to work in the morning.

My wife looked up the address on her laptop, wrote it down, and handed me the paper as we got in the car. I typed the location into my new GPS system. My GPS girl (I call her Gypsy) started telling me which way to go. Good grief! I think I know how to get out of my own neighborhood for Heaven's sake. Anyway, Gypsy gave us flawless directions, and we arrived at precisely the ETA the GPS showed when we left the house.

As we drove to the restaurant, and I listened to the directions, I realized that it's absolutely amazing how far we've come. I remembered the day my parents traded in our old beat up Nash for a brand new car—the first one we'd ever purchased.

My father was a plumber and a dyed-in-the-wool Ford man, so our new ride was, naturally, a Ford. It was a Fairlane 500. 1958 version. Blue. To a nine-year-old boy, that old Nash was a pretty cool car. But the Ford! Ah. Now that was something special. And, being brand, spanking new, it did have a few innovations that were state-of-the-art in the space age of automobile design and technology of the 50s.

One was the dual headlights. 1958 was the first year that the American automakers went from single to double headlights on each side of the grill. It was the new look. And pretty classy, too. The rear sported dual tail lights, which was a major change from the big, round, single version of the '57 Ford. The video on the right sidebar goes into more detail if you'd like to learn more.

The car had something else, too. It was an innovation that was one of the most amazing things that had ever been invented up to that time: windshield washers. I thought those were really swell, and a lot more impressive than the Sea Monkeys I had recently purchased. My dad also decided to opt for the AM radio and the heater, which were both optional features in 1958. Yes, indeed, life was good in 1950s suburbia.

But a week or so later, something strange happened. From out of nowhere and quite unexpectedly, our next door drove something new into his driveway. Something that looked similar to our car. Similar in that it was a Ford and it was a 1958 model. Unfortunately for our self esteem, that's where the similarity ended.

Compared to the Nash, our new Ford was a big step up. But compared to our new car, our neighbor's vehicle was absolutely spectacular.

First off, it was a coupe instead of a sedan. For those of you who are not car guys or gals, a coupe has two doors and a much sleeker look. And it's just cooler in every way. A sedan is the more sedate, stodgy, four door version.

In addition, the neighbor's car also had a two-tone paint job. While our car sported a paint job in the medium blue selection, the car next door was a red-over-white version—with the sweeping, gold metallic body moulding separating the two colors. Plus, theirs had this really cool continental kit on the back. And to top it all off, so to speak, it was a convertible! In the world of 1958 Fords, it doesn't get much cooler than that combination.

Bottom line: Their car pretty much kicked ours to the curb.

But sometimes victory is only a temporary thing. It can be fleeting and no more than a brief shining moment of glory. One moment you're in the catbird seat and the next you're just an average Joe. You can win a battle from time to time, but you can always lose the war in the end. Especially where cars are involved.

I think my dad realized he had been trumped. That may have been the reason he decided to trade our ugly duckling in the following year for a brand new, sleek and sexy, black 1959 Ford Fairlane 500 Galaxy!

I guess that showed 'em!