20, 2021 PATRIARCHS
this Father's Day, I look back to my father (born in 1909), his
father (1881), his father (1842), and even his
the latter on the left from a highly retouched daguerreotype.
Click on the picture, and with animation by Deep
Nostalgia, he'll check out your 21st-century surroundings and
then even smile for you! Dr. Archibald Thomas once served with
Andrew Jackson's soldiers, and his firstborn son B.A.M. is
memorialized at the Alamo.
all that was happening, another of my father's forebears was leaving
Germany and sailing across the Atlantic at the age of 17. His
family immigrated to Chillicothe, Ohio, where one of them would grow
up to obtain a patent for a special ironing board. That's Great-Great-Grandpa
George Frederick Scholl colorized on the right.
tell the stories of the Thomases and the Scholls in a new article
celebrating my Paternal
west, young man! Eighty-five years ago in a yellow 1936
Chevrolet Master Deluxe Coupe like the one photographed by
Dave Koontz (above left) my 27-year-old future father (above
right) went on a great adventure, motoring 2,000 miles from western
Kentucky to the top of California's Mount Wilson.
years later, backyard mechanics modified similar vehicles into
racing machines. They slid around the turns of a quarter-mile
dirt track on Friday nights while my father and I watched.
story is this month's 100 Moons article, to which I've recently
added some photos.
PHARAOH'S ARMY GOT DROWNDED
the people of Israel crossed the Red Sea, according to Exodus 14:22,
the waters were divided asunder and formed walls to the left and
right. But an eyewitness says that's an exaggeration. The
waters did withdraw, but they formed puddles to the left and right.
learn what might really have happened in Brother Billy's latest
fictional conversation, an episode entitled Escaping
the Pi-hahiroth Trap.
FOLLOW THE YELLOW BRICK DETOUR
where I live ,
there are three bridges that cross the Allegheny River between 19
and 29 miles upstream from Pittsburgh. I've located them on
this overhead view with blue circles. From the top down,
they're at Freeport, Tarentum, and New Kensington. (The
crossing at the orange arrow is actually only a dam.)
curbside service of a store
just on the far side of the Tarentum Bridge has been my source for
groceries during the pandemic. Unfortunately that four-lane
span, used by 30,000 vehicles daily, is undergoing a $3.24 million
rehabilitation project. It's completely closed now; the
southeastbound half of the bridge will reopen next week, but the
northwestbound lanes will remain closed until June 28.
nearest detour involves driving 2½ miles further downstream to
New Kensington, but the antiquated two-lane bridge there is
completely jammed. These cars are trying to reach it, and
delays of up to an hour were reported the first day. I plan to
avoid that area entirely, shopping on my own side of the river.
I do have to get to the other side, I'll head off in the opposite
direction to an alternate route indicated by the yellow line on the
overhead view above. It's only 18 miles, partly four-lane roads
and the remainder a pleasant drive through the countryside. I
Montanez found this description in an Ernie Pyle column from 1937:
is undoubtedly the cockeyedest city in the United States.
Physically, it is absolutely irrational. It must have been laid
out by a mountain goat.
reason for all this is the topography of Pittsburgh. It's up
and down, and around and around, and in betwixt. Pittsburgh is
hills, mountains, cliffs, valleys and rivers. Some streets are
narrow; some are wide. None runs more than a few blocks in a
may have a friend who lives half a mile away. But to get there
you circle three miles around a mountain ridge, cross two bridges, go
through a tunnel, follow a valley, skirt the edge of a cliff, and
wind up at your friend's back door an hour after dark.
9, 2011 LOCAL
hadnt noticed it before, but this week, outside a medical
office only a block from my apartment, I discovered a 10-foot-long Stegosaurus.
on its left side is an image that is itself a dinosaur: a view
looking up at Pittsburghs Fort Duquesne Bridge, from the era
before Three Rivers Stadium became extinct.
the deal with this strange statue? Although the plaque has
gone missing from its signpost, I recognized the beast as one of the
fanciful fiberglass dinosaurs that invaded the environs of Pittsburgh
several years ago. So I went in search of more information to
the greatest library the world has ever known the
Internet. In a matter of minutes, Google led me to the details.
is one of a herd of 100 such dinosaurs that were commissioned for
DinoMite Days in 2003. This particular one, Bridgeosaurus,
created by artist Michael Hogle, was displayed at The Waterfront in
Homestead. Its nearly 5½ feet tall and weighs 200 pounds.
design was described as follows: Pittsburgh's many
bridges are arguably the city's most evocative images, to both the
visitor and the long-time resident. The structures of the Fort
Duquesne and the Fort Pitt Bridges find a perfect echo in the curved
back of Stegosaurus. Transposing the images of these
iconic spans from Pittsburgh's Point creates a resonance between
natural past and engineering present.
four months, the statues were auctioned off to raise money for the
renovation of Dinosaur Hall at the Carnegie Museum of Natural
History. Bridgeosaurus sold for $5,700.
Internet couldnt tell me where this dino has been hanging out
for the past eight years.
Bridgeosaurus is now my neighbor.
Four years later, it became Stegoskeletus.
6, 2011 THOMASES
not sure what to think about recent trends in interpersonal communications.
a startling piece of news comes to my attention, I feel an
obligation to inform the other people in the room. But
thats usually as far as I go, because thats how I grew
up. As a college student, if I wanted to call someone I had to
walk downstairs to the public telephone and ring up the
operator. Therefore, even today, I dont phone all my
absent friends to tell them the news. I assume theyll
hear it from the radio or TV, the same way I did.
in the 21st century young folks carry cell phones with them, and
they feel an obligation to text or tweet their widely-scattered
friends with their OMG!
reactions to everything that happens.
study by Frank N. Magid Associates Magid Generational Studies
unit, described in an article in Broadcasting & Cable last
week, describes how the news about the death of Osama bin Laden was
spread differently by the different generations.
rounded off the numbers to produce these pie charts. Im
a Baby Boomer. The next youngest generation is called Gen X,
and younger still are the Millennials.
did you learn about Osamas death?
the next hour, did you tell someone else?
Sharalyn Hartwell comments, A communications lifestyle
isnt something Millennials take lightly. It is important
to them not only to be available to their personal network, but to
share with their personal network. It was instinctive for
Millennials to directly share such big and important news.
I remain a Boomer, and Ill probably never change.
do look favorably, however, on another recent development.
I was a young man, we discussed sports stats in ordinary
language. Hes been on a hot streak. But I bet
hell cool off eventually.
technical terms from statistics have entered the discussion.
If a player has been hot lately, someone cautions us about the
small sample size. When he eventually returns to
mediocrity, someone cites regression to the mean.
Such considerations ought to discourage analysts from ascribing too
much significance to short-term trends.
my background in science, I welcome this more precise language of
mathematics. (See my earlier comments,
now augmented by a borrowed cartoon.)
who like to be frightened by scary ghost stories are eagerly
awaiting a declassified report from the directorate of national
intelligence and the Pentagon. It's due to be handed over to
the Senate Intelligence Committee this month. However, sources
say the report will contain few unambiguous answers.
there be alien life forms in the universe? Minnesota biology
professor PZ Myers assumes so, but, he
adds, the hard-to-swallow bit is the idea that they're here.
Lens reflections, sensor artifacts there is almost always an
alternative mundane explanation. ...All it takes is a few
easily fooled people with access to government funds to open the
purse strings and fuel all kinds of nonsense.
Elizondo claims to have been the head of the Pentagon's Advanced
Aerospace Threat Identification Program. We've heard from him before.
Imagine a technology, he says, that can fly 13,000
miles an hour, that can evade radar, that has no obvious signs of
propulsion, no wings, no control surfaces. That's precisely
what we're seeing.
imagined a military debriefing.
Major, I understand you encountered an Unidentified Flying Object
last week. I'm sorry, an Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon, UAP.
correct. I was flying the left-hand T-38 of a pair conducting
a low-level training exercise near our base.
this during the day or the night?
was late afternoon, about 1630 hours. We were northbound at
Mach 0.8, and the base was clearly visible off to our right. It
was raining there, but the clouds were breaking up and we were often
flying in bright sunlight.
you had excellent visibility?
But then I looked to my right, beyond the other T-38, and I observed
a huge alien craft! It was hovering over our base. It was
unbelievably long. It extended from one end of the base to the
other. And it wasn't straight like an arrow; it was bent up in
the middle, rounded like an arch. I'd estimate it must have
been a thousand feet tall. I've never seen an aircraft anything
it silver in color?
actually it seemed to be glowing! There were many different
colors of lights, kind of all blended together.
did the other pilot also see this UAP?
did when I pointed it out to him.
say it was hovering in a stationary position over the base.
actually it seemed to be moving north at the same speed that we
were. It seemed to be following us, spying on us. Somehow
this huge thing was traveling at Mach 0.8, but I
couldn't see any form of propulsion. There was no exhaust plume.
you radio the base to ask what was above them?
but they didn't see anything but the rain. And their radar
showed nothing, in any direction. It didn't show up on our
onboard radar, either.
how long did the alien craft follow you?
almost a minute. We were ten miles past the base, and it was
still beside us. And then, just as we flew into the shadow of a
cloud, it vanished. In an instant! Poof, just like that.
How could it move so quickly?
it was, I hope it was one of ours! But I have to tell you, I
believe it must have been something from another planet.
Nothing on Earth can be that big and move like that. We don't
have that technology.
you're sure you saw this alien craft?
as I've described it. I'm a military pilot; my eyes don't
thank you, Major. I'll need you to write up a full report on
your experience, and we'll file it away.
WANDERING OUT OF ONE'S LANE
the Indianapolis 500 Sunday, I remembered something that always
off Turn 2 (at the top of the picture), centrifugal force has forced
the cars to slide up close to the outside wall. But the cars
don't stay up there! Each driver keeps his steering wheel
turned to the left for an extra fraction of a second. The line
snakes all the way across the track to the inside, almost touching
the white line next to the grass. Only when necessary to set up
for Turn 3 does the driver return to the outside.
he know that the shortest distance between two points (B and C) is a
straight line (BXC)? How much shorter, you ask? Each half
of the backstretch is 1,650 feet long and 50 feet wide.
Pythagoras tells us that the length of the hypotenuse BY is the
square root of 16502 + 502, or 1600.76
feet. But that's only nine inches longer than BX. The
track isn't as wide as this diagram makes it appear.
nine inches is hardly enough to worry about. So there's no
good reason to stay with the straight-line path BXC. Are there
reasons in favor of swerving over to BYC?
the drivers simply prefer to keep away from the wall. (I
certainly would.) They want to be able to move either left or
right to pass other cars. Also, at 220 mph it's dangerous to
spend 12 seconds almost brushing the outside barrier. On the
front stretch, which has barriers on both sides, the cars tend
to deviate not all the way across the track but only to the middle.
I remembered swim meets. The better swimmers are assigned
lanes down the center of the pool, where the water moves easily.
In the outer lanes, the water is sluggish because of drag from the walls.
cars must experience similar aerodynamic effects. They need to
distance themselves from the wall so that nasty barrier doesn't try
to side-draft off them and steal their speed. It's
traveling 220 mph slower, don't you know.
POSTS BY MONTH:
FROM 2007 THROUGH 2016: