Categories
History New Mexico Travel

Visiting the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

While I was in Santa Fe in July, I took the opportunity on my way back to Albuquerque to catch my flight to stop by the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History again. This was my second visit – having initially made a quick visit to the museum in July 2018.

Roughly speaking, the museum is divided into three sections – two indoor (nuclear weapons and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy) and the aircraft and missile display area outside. The weapons section is the first part you walk through at the beginning of touring the museum. It describes the history of the development of nuclear weapons – including the race America was against countries like Germany and Japan to develop this technology. It also includes discussion of the famous letter from Albert Einstein to President Roosevelt that led to the creation of the US national effort that became the Manhattan Project.

There’s an interesting exhibit that creatively recreates the scene at the Los Alamos Laboratory as this work was underway. I was particularly struck by the several old mechanical desktop calculators in the display – as the math involved in designing these weapons wasn’t perfected using computers but, rather, slide rules and these old calculators.

The rest of the weapons section includes examples a many nuclear weapons – including facsimiles of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki Japan that led to the end of World War II with that country. As you walk through this display of weapons, it’s striking how they start out being relatively large but then shrink down in size to much smaller dimensions.

Outdoors in the aircraft and missile display area are examples of the Boeing B-29 used over Japan along with a beautifully preserved Boeing B-52 and also a Boeing B-47. There are a number of smaller aircraft as well – along with a replica to the tower used at the Trinity test site in New Mexico where the first test of an atomic weapon was conducted.

I’ve visited this museum twice and learned new things each time. On my recent visit, they were showing a film about the B-52 bomber which was quite interesting. I didn’t know that back in the 1950’s General Curtis LeMay (heading up the Strategic Air Command) had B-52’s in the air constantly that were armed with nuclear weapons and flew toward the Soviet Union only to then turn back and return. Only after a couple of nasty accidents involving aircraft crashes with nuclear weapons on-board did this practice moderate.

The other thing I learned about Albuquerque is what a nuclear city it is. Just a few miles from the museum site is one of the largest storage sites for nuclear weapons in the world – something called the Kirtland Underground Munitions Maintenance and Storage Complex (KUMMSC) where the US stores nuclear weapons – most waiting to be removed from service and disassembled.

Categories
History New York City

The Greatest Days in New York

Central Park West - New York City - 2013

I’ve been continuing viewing Ric Burns’ New York documentary – and am now up to Episode 7 – The City and the World (1945-2000) – on Amazon Prime Instant Video.

A few minutes into this episode, David McCullough comments that if he could pick a time to be in New York, it would be at the end of World War II – in the spring of 1946 when the American troops were coming home from Europe on the great ocean liners like the Queen Elizabeth and the Queen Mary – twice a month ferrying troops back into New York City.

Ray Suarez comments that the thing about New York is that there isn’t just one thing. It’s vibrant. Pete Hamill notes that it was then still a manufacturing town. Proud guys, working guys, but troubles ahead. While New York comes out of the war on top, other forces are at work. LaGuardia ends up dying of pancreatic cancer at 64 years old – after 12 years as mayor. And the changes begin.

The back story about Robert Moses – and his beginnings described in Episode 6 – is fascinating. Robert Caro, author of “The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York” about Moses provides great commentary during both episodes.

I’ve got an old used book copy of The Power Broker on the bookshelf behind me. Seems like a particularly good time to pick it back up and re-read once again before I head to New York again in June.

I’m only now coming up to the description of building the UN headquarters building in New York. So much more…

Categories
Current Affairs History Living Photography Photography - Canon 5D Mark II San Francisco/California

Memorial Day 2013 – Freedom Is Not Free

Freedom is not Free - Golden Gate National Cemetery - 2009

On this beautiful Memorial Day morning, I’ve been looking back at some of the earlier Memorial Days I’ve written about here.

Last year, I was reminded by the pastor at my Mom’s church that Memorial Day was first called Decoration Day – that it dates back to just after the Civil War and was a commemoration of the soldiers who died in that war.

Again today we remember both those who sacrificed their lives in service to our country as well as memories of those close to us.

According to Wikipedia, “Freedom Is Not Free” was first coined by retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, Walter Hitchcock, of New Mexico Military Institute and “expresses gratitude for the service of members of the military, implicitly stating that the freedoms enjoyed by many citizens in many democracies are only possible through the voluntary risks taken and sacrifices made by those in military. The saying is often used to convey respect specifically to those who gave their lives in defense of freedom.”

Once again this year, we remember them. Never forget.

The image above is from Golden Gate National Cemetery in San Bruno, California – taken on an early January morning in 2009. Had it been taken on Memorial Day, small American flags would have been placed in front of each of the headstones – we can see them in our mind’s eye.

Categories
History Living Norway Travel

Happy Father’s Day 2012

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Even though Father’s Day is one of those “Hallmark Holidays”, it got me remembering this morning that ten years ago, in 2002, we took a wonderful family vacation to Norway – and to the original Loftesnes (spelled with just one ‘s’ on the end over there) homestead.

On June 18, 2002, we took a high speed ferry from Bergen to Sogndal – about a three hour ride up the largest fjord in Norway. A beautiful trip indeed! This photo shows my Dad (age 80) and me out on the bow of the ferry after we docked in Sogndal. Brings back lots of great memories about what a great Dad (and proud Granddad) he was.

Over the next few days, we toured the area around Sogndal and he had such a great time – his first trip to Norway. One of my best memories is sitting out on the lawn at our hotel watching the bonfires around the Sognefjord burn late on Midsummer evening. Dad was in his element!

Dad passed away just over two years ago and we miss him every day! He was especially one from the greatest generation!

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Categories
Black and White Current Affairs History Living Photography Photography - Black & White

Memorial Day 2012 – Freedom Is Not Free

In the Snow - Korean War Veterans Memorial - 2005

On this beautiful late May evening, I’ve been looking back at other Memorial Days I’ve written about. At church with my Mom yesterday, I was reminded by the pastor that Memorial Day was first called Decoration Day – it dates back to just after the Civil War and was a commemoration of the soldiers who died in that war.

Today, we remember both those who sacrificed their lives in service to our country as well as memories of those close to us.

The image above is of the Korean War Veterans Memorial on The Mall in Washington, DC. It was taken in the middle of a late February 2005 snowfall by our daughter on a school trip. American soldiers on patrol.

Engraved into a wall of the memorial are the words: “Freedom Is Not Free”.

Indeed. Never forget.

Categories
Golden Gate History Photography San Francisco/California

A Wild Flight of the Imagination – The Story of the Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge (Canon PowerShot S90 HDR)

Be sure to download this free iPad app from the California Historical Society celebrating the 75th birthday of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Beautiful photographs! And great lessons from history!

Enjoy!

Categories
Apple Current Affairs Egypt History iPhone 4 Living

A Revolution in My Pocket!

Celebrating in Tahrir Square - by RamyRaoof

There is something in the soul that cries out for freedom.

Wow, what a day for Egypt! Watching the events unfolding in Egypt over the last 18 days has been both compelling and seductive.

Thanks mostly to Aljazeera English, I had a seat on the edge of Tahrir Square in Cairo. AJE’s iPhone application brought me live video wherever I was – zooming me into the events in Egypt as they unfolded.

How amazing is all of this? First of all, the source – Aljazeera itself and its on-going presence in Cairo, in spite of the regime’s efforts to shut it down. This source was complemented by the incredible capability I hold in my hand with the iPhone that brings AJE’s video into my life wherever I am.

This feels like a really new world. Video from anywhere on the globe delivered into our hands in real-time. Amazing. Simply amazing.

I can’t imagine how this will influence world events in the years to come. The accelerating pace of change enabled by this technology is breathtaking, exciting and, I must admit, a bit scary. I’m reminded that “Freedom is not free” – but clearly the pace of its evolution is changing fast!

PS: Aljazeera has a campaign: “Demand Aljazeera in the USA” which they hope will result in the cable TV companies adding their content. Presumably they’d receive some sort of compensation from the cable companies? Frankly, I could care less about any of that. While it might be nice to watch AJE on my cable TV, where I really want to watch it is “in my hand”. And they’ve got that covered nicely with their iPhone app!

Photo of “Celebrating in Tahrir Square” by RamyRaoof.