Category Archives: History

All good things …

In 1981 I moved to Houston from college in Golden Colorado to begin my career in the oil patch. West Houston. Katy. Not much was out here back then. Nonmacher’s Bar-B-Q was one of the few food establishments in the area at the time.

Texas BBQ. In my opinion, the best in the Katy area. If I understand correctly, Nonmacher made a name for himself selling BBQ at the Houston rodeo and other venues. John even gave me the recipe for his smoked pork loin that he sold only on Saturdays (two pork loins tied together with butchers twine, stuffed with onions and jalapeños, encrusted in lemon-pepper and smoked). I have made it several times, but it was always easier to get it from him.

But the area grew and many restaurants opened including many BBQ restaurants. Nonmacher’s was in a small strip center with only a few parking spaces. Most of his business was take away.

Nonmacher’s BBQ got some bad press in 2011 when some customers were offended by the “Let’s play cowboys and IRANIANS” poster hanging on the wall. This poster was from the Iran Hostage Crisis (1979 – 1981), a time when U.S. and Texas sentiment toward Iran was understandably negative. The people offended by it had most likely not even been born until well after the event.

John Nonmacher died of bladder cancer in 2013 and his wife Trudy continued to run Nonmacher’s BBQ after his death.

I went get some BBQ today and discovered that they had closed. As the sign says “All good things must come to an end“.

Nonmacher’s BBQ on Facebook

John Nonmacher on Facebook

John Nonmacher Obituary

Nuclear Propulsion in Space (1968)

Note: this video was produced before Apollo 11 landed on the moon in 1969. NASA and the (then) Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) began work on the design of nuclear propulsion systems in the mid-1950s.

https://youtu.be/eDNX65d-FBY

Everything old is new again …

https://www.bwxt.com/what-we-do/nuclear-thermal-propulsion-ntp

https://www.bwxt.com/news/2017/08/02/BWXT-Awarded-188-Million-Nuclear-Thermal-Propulsion-Reactor-Design-Contract-by-NASA

FH Launch in (( STEREO ))

This is really cool. It’s true – the sound is even more mind blowing than the imagery.

Listen with headphones.

https://youtu.be/ImoQqNyRL8Y

But … as impressive as the sound of the video above is with headphones on … you still miss the full body sensation of your innards vibrating from the low frequency rumble. Perhaps listening with headphones AND a really powerful sub-woofer?

A Blast (off) From My Past

In honor of today’s Falcon Heavy Launch

Originally published https://contrafactual.com/2017/02/19/a-blast-off-from-my-past/

The image below is a screen capture from one the videos in the previous post on today’s SpaceX CRS-10 launch.


Life comes full circle. In a much earlier post I described what it was like to be standing at the water’s edge in the foreground at the last ever Saturn V launch.

  • The Saturn V F1 engines were the most powerful rocket engines ever made. Each one produced over 1.5 million pounds of thrust. The five F1 engines on the Saturn V made it the most powerful launch vehicle ever at over 7.6 million pounds of thrust. Just over forty years ago on May 14, 1973 [almost 44 years as of this writing], I was lucky enough to be among the press and dignitaries sitting on the bleachers or standing in front of the turning basin at the Launch Complex 39 Press Site for the last ever Saturn V launch. I was 19 years old. My best friend’s aunt was a professional photographer. She got each of us a press pass for the launch of the Skylab space station. For a teenage space fan, who had watched every manned launch since Alan Shepard’s first suborbital Mercury launch, this was truly “dying and going to heaven”. For several days before the launch we got to go on exclusive tours of the launch site. We were able to see Walter Cronkite’s broadcast booth. NASA loaded us up with press packets and thick tomes of specifications. I can not begin to tell you how totally cool this was.


On launch day I was one of the throng of people standing to the left of the countdown clock in the picture above.

  • I was just three miles away from the launch pad. When the engines fired up, the sound of the F1 engines was felt as much as heard. The low base rumbling seemed to reach directly into my chest and vibrate my heart and lungs [dare I say it was nearly orgasmic?]. As the Saturn V rose into the sky, I could smell the burned kerosene of the exhaust as I felt the waves of warm air wafting over me. 
  • This was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.

The SpaceX image inspired me to search the Internet and YouTube for Skylab launch images. I scored big time. The second image is screen shot from the video below. Back in the day I had a fetish for white jeans (probably expressing my inner John Lennon). Trust me – I am in there somewhere.

Full video from 1973

https://youtu.be/JzCXYd2v3xE

The Internet is amazing. Welcome to the future.



Links

https://contrafactual.com/2013/07/20/apollo-11-main-engines-found/

Musical Milestones

First there was 22,000 Days

and now (just the music – no relation to the folks in the video)

because …

Side bar … although I own* many versions of “Birthday” – vinyl, cassette, CD, and iTunes – I can’t play it for you due to “copyright issues”, so I am forced to find the best cover on YouTube.

Welcome to the Future.

(Sigh)

* no longer sure I actually own them, but I sure paid for them

Relevant RANTS: HERE and HERE

SpaceX OTV-5

SpaceX launch of the US Air Force “minishuttle” Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV) X-37B

Another successful launch and landing for Falcon 9. It is beginning to remind me of watching planes take off and land at the airport.

 

 

Side note: the contract to launch OTV-5 was awarded to SpaceX directly, without bid

SpaceX Press Kit

Little Friends Update 

Yesterday I told you about my visit to Little Friends Pet Memorial

Today I got a call from Greg at Little Friends. He told me that Jane (the nice woman I spoke to yesterday) told him about my question about K2’s missing plaque. He told me that he was the most senior employee and that ten to fifteen years ago the site had been vandalized and all of the plaques had been ripped off of the memorial walls and tossed into the fish ponds. He was the one who rescued the plaques, but he wasn’t sure he had gotten all of them. He also told me that they had even replaced several of the plaques that had been damaged.
Greg then told me that they would make up a new plaque for K2 and try to place it as close to Anna’s plaque as possible.


He asked me what I wanted K2’s plaque to say. I suggested “K-2 With Anna Forever” since I didn’t remember what the original plaque said. Greg agreed and told me it would take about ninety days to get the new plaque made and they they would give me a call when it was up so I could come out and view it. He also told me that if I had any questions or concerns to please not hesitate to give them a call. It was an emotional conversation for me (as is typing this out now).

I will provide an update once K2’s plaque is up. More to come …

Nostalgia …

nos·tal·gia

[näˈstaljə, nəˈstaljə]

NOUN
a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations

Hanging in our master bathroom is a picture we picked up in a junk antique store somewhere in rural Texas. It is a fit starting place for today’s tale.

In 1981 the Mrs and I moved from Bergen Park Colorado (Bergen Park Dreams, Olde Time Radio) to John Rolfe Lane, a rent house in the suburbs west of Houston to begin my career in the oil patch. We lived at John Rolfe Lane from 1981 to 1989, when we moved into the current Catbeard Manor, using the severance package from my first employer as down payment. Both of our sons were born at John Rolfe Lane.

The John Rolfe Lane residence is a but a few blocks north of Catbeard Manor in a different subdivision, yet sufficiently out of my way that I must intentionally drive past it. I rarely do so, maybe once every ten years. I did so today. Gone was the large tree in the front yard and the red tip photinia growing between the windows of what were the two boys bedrooms. Gone were the shrubs up against the front of the house. Gone was the flower bed around the mail box. In their place was a newly planted tree (looks like an oak of some sort) and an otherwise barren, but well cared for, front yard. I have many photos of John Rolfe Lane … somewhere. If I find them, perhaps I will post them in the future.


 

We moved from Bergen Park with two dogs, K2 (male) and Anna (female). Their tale is one that deserves a much more detailed elaboration, but I will give you the condensed version now … 

K2 was a wedding present from Jeff and Cheryl. His name came from pen 2K at the Dumb Friends Society in Denver. He was alleged to be part Collie / part Australian Shepherd, but I actually think that the “Australian Shepherd” part was in fact coyote. K2 was the smartest dog I have ever known. As a puppy he had enormous ears. I remember noting that he did not bark when we picked him up (turned out to be a nasty case of kennel cough). I vividly remember the drive home when we stopped by a Dairy Queen for a burger. Not sure what followed next but I recall wondering if K2 was hungry only to discover him in my lap devouring my burger. One could not have wanted for a more loyal dog. He would defend us to the death against small children (we think he has abused). Yet he easily accepted his role in our pack as the defender of our children. We used to keep him on a long lunge line attached to the front door of John Rolfe Lane where he would sleep in the entry way. One night we heard a muffled grunt and we ran to the entry way to find the door open and blood on K2’s muzzle. We think that someone had kicked in the front door and a surprised K2 had “taken a bite out of crime”. Only the lunge line had kept him from pursuit. I reinforced the locks after that.

K2 is also the name of the mountain next to Mount Everest. Our next adoptee occurred courtesy of our vet in Bergen Park, Dr. Nealy. She was the only pet we never had neutered, a cat we named Everest. Not long after we got Everest, we were grocery shopping in Evergreen south of Bergen Park and a young boy had a grocery cart full of mixed Samoyed / Golden Retriever puppies. I bought a bag of dog food and came home with Anna Purna (another mountain near Everest). Anna was the stereotypical dumb blond, a Samoyed with floppy gold tipped ears. She was the sweetest, gentlest, most patient creature you could ever have. In Bergen Park the drive way was paved in smooth river rocks. I threw them for her and she loved to chase them. One day I threw one for her from the second story balcony. It went through the driver side window of our new car. Below is a picture of Anna (foreground) and K2 taken by my dad. It hangs above our stairway next to the picture of Bob.


 

Regarding Everest … she got pregnant at Bergen Park, had kittens, and promptly disappeared. The Mrs and I bottle-fed the kittens and Anna adopted them as her own. She would carry each of them around with its head in her mouth ever so gently. She would clean them with her tongue and let them nurse on her until she was raw. We would go on outings with Anna in the lead followed by “her kittens”. She grieved when we gave them all away. I have slides of Anna and her kittens that I need to get scanned. When (if) I get around to it I will post them. So-oh cute!

K2 and Anna got old as all pets do and each had to be put down in time. K2 died while we were at John Rolfe Lane. Anna died after we moved to Catbeard Manor. She really missed K2. The bard said “It is better to have loved and lost then never to have loved at all”. No where is that more true than with our pets. They give us all of their love, unconditionally, but we out-live them. 

We had both K2 and Anna cremated and their ashes scattered at Little Friends Pet Memorial out in the country west of us. Today the Mrs and I took a road trip to visit them. We drove past it at first and I thought maybe it was gone, but we spotted it on the way back on the dead end road. It is in farm country, surrounded by cotton fields. It was an extremely hot and dry day. Too hot for the Mrs. She waited in the car with the AC on while I walked around the deserted memorial. It was very peaceful and serene. Several people had left their pets toys at the memorial. It was quite emotional for me, but I have always been emotional.





 

I found Anna’s plaque …


but try as I would. I could not find K2’s. I did note that some plaques appear to have fallen off in the almost thirty years that have transpired. K2’s plaque was there when we last visited with the boys in the early 90’s when I thought we might all be moving to Russia for work. That never happened and the Mrs diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis put the kibosh on any thought of foreign assignment.

I called the main number and talked to a very nice lady who told me that Little Friends had a new owner. The original owner was doctor, certainly now deceased, who established it when his pet died and he discovered that no facility of this sort existed. He would collect the pets and take them to the memorial to be cremated and then scatter the ashes. Anyway she asked for my phone number and promised to get back to me.

More to come …

Rattlesnake | Līve

So … twenty years ago Number One Son and I went to a Līve concert. I have been re-listening to Throwing Copper and Secret Samadhi. One song in particular, Rattlesnake (from Secret Samadhi) deserves mention. 

I really like this song. The tune itself is powerful. So are the vocals. I particularly like the guitar solo at 3:08. As with many of the songs by Līve, the lyrics are enigmatic, but I find the entire song quite stirring.

I Alone | Līve

Nostalgia

Twenty years ago (circa 1997), Number One Son and I went to a Līve concert at the Cynthia Woods Mitchel Pavilion. Number One Son was 14. The forecast was for rain. Our seats were in the uncovered part of the Pavilion. We brought rain ponchos and a large umbrella. We needed them. We sat in a torrential rain throughout the concert.

The Mrs had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis the year before. My life, all of our lives, were changing in unpredictable ways. The Mrs was going downhill and I was grieving the loss of her quality of life, our quality of life. The medical bills and hospitalizations were taking a toll. Little did I know that it would get worse.

We sat in the pouring rain listing to Līve blast out their songs. I have very fond memories of that concert. I bought two of their albums, Throwing Copper and Secret Samadhi  (I think I even bought Secret Samadhi at the concert). I used to listen to those albums in the CD player of the Ford Windstar we owned at the time. Perfect music for grieving. I actually own a large collection of CDs that I no longer listen to because we have switched to iTunes. I should probably invest in an external CD drive for my MacBook and begin ripping my old CDs to iTunes, but have avoided doing so.

I heard I Alone earlier this evening in the playlist of a local sporting goods store’s PA system. It brought all those memories back with a vengeance. Music has a way of doing that for me.

Epilogue (Twenty years later …)

The Mrs and I have been married forty-one years. She still battles MS and the diabetes she developed as a result of massive dosage steroid treatments she has received over the years. Twenty years of MS have eaten up all of our finances … and continue to do so. If you and your family are in good health you have no idea how fortunate you are. If you are battling a life altering illness, you know what we have been going through.

I may go dig out my Līve CDs and put them in my car to listen to. I still have grieving to do …

List of Falcon 9 Launches

OK … somebody had to do it. The complete list of every Falcon 9 launch is on Wikipedia!

As of June 25, 2017

  • 37 launches
  • 2 failures (one in flight, one on the launch pad pre-flight)
  • 13 successful landings (8 droneship, 5 Landing Zone 1)
  • 2 resused Falcon 9 boosters (both of which re-landed successfully – one on droneship, the other at LZ-1)
  • 1 reused Dragon capsule

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Falcon_9_and_Falcon_Heavy_launches

 

So … compare this to the Blue Origin numbers also care of Wikipedia (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blue_Origin)

  • 1 launch and crash landing of the New Shepard 1
  • 5 launches and landings of the same New Shepard 2 booster (up and down – no payload to orbit)

 

    Just sayin’

    80 Seconds

    Watch (almost) EVERY SpaceX Falcon 9 landing attempted … in 80 seconds 

    https://youtu.be/Gum4EVbg7_0

    And that doesn’t even count two back-to-back landings last week on an Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (Atlantic AND Pacific) plus the landing at LZ-1 at the beginning of June. Oh … and don’t forget the May 1st landing at LZ-1. So that makes it 18 landings?

     

    See also

    https://contrafactual.com/2017/06/25/spacex-iridium-2/

    https://contrafactual.com/2017/06/23/bulgariasat-1/

    https://contrafactual.com/2017/06/13/yaf9lv/

    https://contrafactual.com/2017/06/07/crs-11-falcon-9-landing-close-up/

    https://contrafactual.com/2017/06/04/crs-11-falcon-9-landing/

    https://contrafactual.com/2017/05/01/best-footage-ever/

    Thunderstorms

    This is another Father’s Day tribute to Bob (aka Dad).

    From Welcome to the Future …

    Despite the fact that my parents love for me caused them to be overly protective, my dad did something equally amazing for me. I have always loved thunderstorms. I love the lightning and I love the thunder. I think that thunderstorms are one of the most exhilarating of all natural phenomenon. There is a reason for this. My dad grew up in an orphanage. It was not uncommon at the time for single mothers who could not care for their children to abandon them at an orphanage. Summertime in Florida produces severe afternoon thunderstorms. The nuns at the orphanage were afraid that lightening would hit the building and set fire to it. Rather than face the possibility of an orphanage full of trapped children burning to the ground, whenever a thunderstorm approached, the nuns would make the children go outside and lie facedown in the grass until the storm passed. Needless to say, my dad was terrified of thunderstorms; shaking, vomiting, fetal position terrified of thunderstorms. Dad swore to himself that I was never going to be afraid of lightning and thunder like he was. From my earliest days my dad would pick me up and bounce me on his knee during storms. “See the lightning,” he would say, “now wait, here it comes … BADDA BOOM.” I would giggle and laugh. He showed no fear, why should I. Of course, I remember none of this. I was too young. But I do know that I love lightning and thunder. Whenever my dad told this story he would add one more thing … by making sure that I was never afraid of thunderstorms he had cured his own fear too.

      
    Trying to proof-read the above is difficult through tear filled eyes. If there are typos, cut me some slack.

     Happy Father’s Day to all the fathers out there and to their children!

    Bob

    Robert Francis (Bob) Bergman 

    Circa mid 1970s

    [Click the images to zoom to full size]


    YOKS (Ye Olde Kid Sister) posted the photo above of our Dad to Facebook today.

    I took that photo during my “Black & White” photography period. My camera bag is prominently visible in the foreground. This is a classic Bob photo – beer in hand. Note the old school disposable “pop top” beer can and Bob’s signature white cowboy hat.

    Below is another picture I took on a different fishing trip. This is actually a cropped digital image of a framed picture I have hanging on my staircase. It is my favorite photo of Dad.


     

    Bob loved to fish and I frequently went along with him always getting on the road before sunrise. I was heavily into photography in the 70s and would go “fishing” with him just to get out and away from everything and to spend time alone with him. I am not sure exactly when these pictures were taken – I could probably find the negatives and give you the exact dates, but that would be irrelevant – mid 1970s is close enough. 

    I put “fishing” in quotes because I mostly went for the solitude, sandwiches, beer, and photography. Fishing was very “zen” for Bob. Peace, quiet, solitude … and beer. Bob loved beer. Fishing wasn’t so much about catching fish as it was the entire experience. Sure he loved actually catching fish, but not catching fish was OK too. How does that old saying go … “the worst day fishing is better than the best day of work.”

    Our “worst day of fishing” was the time we were out in Florida Keys in a rented boat and sheared the propeller shear pin on a sand shoal – with no extra shear pins. After several hours of trying to row back to shore with the single oar we had – including realizing we had snagged the line of a lobster/crab pot on the outboard motor, thus going nowhere – Bob decided to fashion a shear pin out of a heavy gauge fish hook. That did the trick and we limped back to the marina. Speaking of “lobsters” I was wearing shorts, no shirt, and no hat. Although by some miracle I did not blister, I was “cooked lobster red” for many days afterwards. Still better than “the best day of work.”

    Bob would have loved this song …

    Bob is no longer with us. Time may heal all wounds, but we still miss him.

    Bob, wherever you are, this one’s for you …


     

    Happy Father’s Day

    CRS-11 Falcon 9 Landing

    Yet another Falcon 9 landing (from yesterday June 3rd) at LZ-1. Note the arrival of the sonic boom just before landing. Starting to get routine (as it should). This was also the first re-use of a Dragon capsule (Woo Hoo). 

    For more info on LZ-1 see:

    For more on the CRS-11 mission see:

    Feels like the 60s again.

    Bergen Park Dreams

    [ I began writing this about the time that iOS 10.3.2 Trashed My iPhone … just now getting back to it ]

    In a previous post I told you briefly of my time living at the Cecil H. Green Geophysical Observatory a mile or so west of Bergen Park Colorado in the mountains west of Denver. 

    I lived at the Cecil H. Green Geophysical Observatory in Bergen Park from 1976 to 1981 with my newlywed bride, two dogs, and (very briefly) a cat. They were perhaps the happiest days of my life and I still have what I have come to call “Bergen Park Dreams”.

    “Bergen Park Dreams” are essentially what they sound like, dreams about living in Bergen Park … but they have evolved subtly over the years. Initially they were simple reminiscences of actual events at the time, but as time passed they became stranger and stranger. This maybe due to the fact that I had revisited Bergen Park in the mid-90s and more recently in 2015 – boy had things changed.

    My first drive to Bergen Park and the Observatory was in 1975. It was little more than a crossroads with a Conoco station, a mini mart, liquor store, bowling alley, and a few restaurants. Depending on which road out of Bergen Park you chose, you would be on your way to the more populous Evergreen to the south, or on the road to Squaw Mountain and Mount Evans to the southwest, or heading west back to connect to I-70 via Colorado 65. 

    The area west of Bergen Park on Colorado 65 was pristine. It was a Colorado mountain paradise. The Observatory was just off of 65 to the north up a dirt road. Back then, as I said, it was truly a pristine paradise. Elk would graze within a stone’s throw of the upper balcony. Little did I know that it would all change in just a few short years with the development of the Soda Creek community on the south side of 65 and it’s million dollar mini-ranchettes. From 1976 to 1981 I lived in a Colorado paradise worth millions of dollars because I could not afford to live anywhere else.

    In the summer of 1976 the future Mrs flew out to visit me for a week during the summer. We had been dating since 1973 when we had met in fencing class at Broward Junior College near Davie, Florida west of Fort Lauderdale where I lived with my folks. Ok I actually lived in Wilton Manors, an island bounded by natural rivers and man-made canals within Fort Lauderdale, but whatever. 

    I met my wife-to-be in Junior College while attending a fencing class. She was my partner during field camp for the “barbed-wire stretching” section. We had five miles of barbed-wire to stretch along a section of canal that bordered the Everglades. She cut her hand and I cleaned and bandaged it tenderly with love and care. So gentle were my attentions that she soon fell under the spell of my gentle but manly manner and soon we were lying under the shade of a mangrove tree making sweet, sweet …

    Oh wait that was last night’s dream … It was fencing class as in touché, sabers, etc. …

    My wife-to-be in fencing class:

    20130831-171620.jpg

    Ok not my wife … and besides in 1973 the world had not yet been introduced to light-sabers. We used foils, épées, old-school sabers. Her sweet smile and school girl laugh pierced my heart as did the unshielded tip of her épée. When I finally got out of the hospital … OK that was lie. It was fencing class nothing more. But it was the beginning of a 40 year love affair.

    For a picture of my wife-to-be back in 1973, click HERE.

    Where was I? Oh yes, 1976, so this was the first time I had not gone home over summer break and had moved into the Observatory full-time only a few months before in order to establish in-state residency. My wife-to-be was flying out from Miami to visit me. I had gone to the former Stapleton International airport in Denver to pick her up only to find out that her flight was “delayed”. I was unable to get any information regarding the delay. I began thinking … what if the plane had crashed? Would the Arrival Display calmly announce “Hull Loss” or “Plane Crashed”? Of course not. It would announce FLIGHT DELAYED. I finally gave up and drove back to Bergen Park with the weight of uncertainty heavily upon me. Later that night she called from the hotel in which the airline had put them up in Dallas due to engine trouble. She arrived the next day telling me the story of the woman dressed in her wedding gown flying to her wedding which she obviously missed. Not like you could call someone on your cell phone to explain the situation back then – THEY DIDN’T EXIST.

    My wife-to-be spent the week with me in Bergen Park the summer of 1976. It was a wonderful week. I asked her to marry me and, fool that she was, she accepted.  We set the date for December 30th, 1976 when I planned to be home for Christmas break. We chose December 30th because we did not want to be driving anywhere on New Year’s Eve. Before and after her visit and until we were married, life was pretty lonely in Bergen Park. I could drive the old International Harvester back and forth to Golden and stop at any points along the way, but I was broke and spent most of my time studying. Since no mail was delivered to the Observatory (I didn’t even know the address at that time), I had gotten a post office box in Golden that served as my official address. There was also a land line to the Observatory, but I tried to keep the long distance calls to a minimum. My wife-to-be was in nursing school in Miami and was quite busy herself.

    Over the summer of 1976 I had a lot of time to myself. I hiked around the 75 acres of Coors land that the Observatory sat on. I walked or drove into Bergen Park for groceries. I read a lot. I changed and developed the seismic records every night and once a week drive them down to Golden. Life was peaceful and idyllic, when not outright boring. I caught wolf spiders in jars and kept them as pets feeding them moths. OK – that was creepy, but I was desperate for companionship. Introvert that I was – and still am – I treasure my alone time, but there is alone and then there is lonely. I would talk out loud to the spiders, the walls, myself just to hear a voice.

    There was a well on the property that provided all of the water (via an electric downhole pump) and two drain fields. The well was located just to the east of the building and the sanitary septic tank and drain field was located on the other side to the west. There was also a secondary drain field in the front of the building (to the south) near the dirt road up from the main road. This was for the photographic chemicals and rinse water. I had to be careful not to use too much rinse water during the development process or when cleaning the tanks or I would get a spring that ran down the dirt road. Not a problem in the summer, but it would form an ice slick in the winter … which my wife discovered when she slid under her car while getting into it to head to work one frozen morning. It was several minutes before I noticed her screaming for me … an event she tells others to this day.

    I didn’t trust the well, so I would fill jugs of water up from a water spigot at the back of the Green Center building back at the School of Mines in Golden and lug them up to Bergen Park. Cecil H. Green (founder of Texas Instruments) was quite the philanthropist and many buildings are in his (and his wife’s) name. Eventually I had the well water tested and it came back with coliform bacteria at “TNTC” (Too Numerous To Count). My fears were justified. Contaminated ground water had gotten into the well. I would fix this. I found the well head and opened it up. Then I ran a hose from the spigot into the well and turned on the water. Finally came the chlorine bleach, I forget how many jugs of bleach. I let the water circulate – I forget for how long – but long enough to circulate the bleach to every part of the system. Then I let it sit and soak. Then circulate. Then soak. Finally I let the water run and flushed out the bleach until I could smell chlorine no more. Then waited to let the well recharge and flushed it again. Eventually I had the water tested again and it was safe to drink. But for how long? I think I waited a month to get the well water tested again before I felt safe to drink it. With the second test passed, I could stop lugging water. The well water at Bergen Park was perhaps the best water I have ever had. It was delicious … and had the bizarre ability to keep our teeth free of plaque. To this day, only Ozarka Spring Water comes close.

    Anyway, not long after moving to Houston with my first employer out of college I began to have the “Bergen Park Dreams”.  As I said above, they were originally just remembrances of the past, but slowly began to morph into something stranger, an alternate reality. I am back in Bergen Park present day and move back into the Observatory for no apparent reason. Sometimes the Mrs is with me, sometimes not. We are usually our younger selves. Often the area around the Observatory is highly built up, even more than in reality. The dreams are often quite vivid and colorful. Sometimes I also dream about an alternate reality version of Golden and the School of Mines, usually an ultra high-tech version, with many new ultra modern buildings. 

    Dreams are curious things. Mine are often quite interesting. Some folks have the occasional nightmare (scary dreams), me not so much. I tend to think of dreams as the “screen saver” our brain provides while it “defrags.” Sleep is the time our brain sorts and stores our daily memories and our nervous system is flushed of toxins. Sleep is when our muscles are repaired from the damage incurred during our daily workouts. Sleep is also when youngsters grow – and why adequate sleep is so critical for the young. So between nervous system and muscle repair, body growth, and memory fixation we learn that adequate sleep is very, very important to the human condition.

    My occasional “Bergen Park Dreams” are just another aspect of my sleep.

     
    Links in this post:
    https://contrafactual.com/2017/05/24/ios-10-3-2-trashed-my-iphone/
    https://contrafactual.com/2017/05/22/olde-time-radio/
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bergen_Park
    https://contrafactual.com/2013/08/31/convoy/
    https://contrafactual.com/2013/09/28/hot-chick/
    http://greencenter.mines.edu
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cecil_Howard_Green
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coliform_bacteria
    https://www.ozarkawater.com
    https://contrafactual.com/2014/05/27/sleep/

    1980 Damascus Titan missile explosion

    Watching the PBS documentary Command and Control on NETFLIX as I type. 

    This is truly scary.  If the Hydrogen Bomb warhead had detonated all of Little Rock would have been incinerated and millions of additional people downwind would have died from the fallout.

    WATCH THIS DOCUMENTARY (Full YouTube version below)

    https://www.netflix.com/title/80107656

    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/films/command-and-control/

    http://www.encyclopediaofarkansas.net/encyclopedia/entry-detail.aspx?entryID=2543

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/1980_Damascus_Titan_missile_explosion

     

    Thankfully an incident similar to this could never* happen today …

      

    * where is that sarcasm tag

    Olde Time Radio

    Note: please click on the highlighted links included in the text for more information.

    “This is radio station WWV, Fort Collins, Colorado, broadcasting on internationally allocated standard carrier frequencies of 2.5, 5, 10, 15, 20, and 25 megahertz, providing time of day, standard time interval, and other related information. Inquires regarding these transmissions may be directed to the National Bureau of Standards, Time and Frequency Services Section, Boulder, Colorado 80524.”

    At least this is how I remember it from over 40 years when I lived at the Cecil H. Green Geophysical Observatory in the mountains west of Denver just outside of Bergen Park. Compare this to the current version as shown in the previous post

    From 1974 to 1981, I was enrolled at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden Colorado (home of the legendary Coors beer re: Smokey and the Bandit). I lived in the dorms from 1974 to 1976. In a move to establish in-state tuition and a SIGNIFICANT cost savings I needed to 1) have my parents stop claiming me on their income tax, 2) establish year-round residence in Colorado, and (most important) 3) fill out the forms and get in-state status (probably easier to do then than now). As luck would have it during my second year at Mines, my undergraduate advisor Maurice W. (Maury) Major needed someone to change the records at the Cecil H. Green Geophysical Observatory on the weekends. This provided me with some extra money. When I eventually told him of my desire to establish in-state tuition and that I needed a place to live over the summer, he suggested that I could live at the observatory and change the records every night as part of the deal … and what a deal it was. I got totally free accommodations on 75 acres of Colorado mountain land owned by Coors, continued to get paid a small stipend for changing the records, and the use of an old International Harvester to travel back and forth from Bergen Park to Golden. The Cecil H. Green Geophysical Observatory was part of the World Wide Standardized Seismograph Network, ostensibly set up to study the internal structure of the earth via earthquake signatures, but actually set up to monitor Soviet underground nuclear tests. For 82 pages of mind numbing detail be sure to read the World-Wide Standardized Seismograph Network: A Data Users Guide. The Cecil H. Green Geophysical Observatory was instrumental in proving that that the earthquakes Denver was experiencing during the 1960s were in fact caused by the pumping of chemical waste into a disposal well at the Rocky Moutain Arsenal just north of Denver.




      

    Then (1989)

    Click to access bergen%20park%20ca.pdf

     
    Now (2015)

    I took the above photo in 2015 while in Denver attending the wedding of Jess and Brian (a story for another time). As near as I could tell, the land and structure had been sold and someone was converting it to an actual home. When I lived there the first floor contained the seismological recording equipment and the second floor (two-thirds the size of of the first floor) had room for a large “class room”, a small toilet/sink/shower room, and two small “offices” (one of which, next to the bathroom, I used as a bedroom). The other third of the upstairs area was a tar paper and gravel “sun deck” enclosed by a wooden railing.

    Every evening I would go downstairs (note that the stairs were outside) and turn on the short wave radio tuned to WWV. It was part of the vertical cabinet pictured in the image below. The actual seismometers (the x-y-z pendulums), the triangular boxes, were located in a tunnel excavated into the hill behind and to the north of the building. The actual recording equipment … the drums (and galvanometers pictured below the drums) were located in room 103* as indicated in the schematic pictured above. Room 101* contained the radio and time coding equipment. Room 102*/ 102A* contained the photographic developing tanks and the drier.


    Click to access ofr2014-1218.pdf

    Since each seismogram was recorded by light bouncing off of a mirror attached to a galvanometer, I had to work “by touch” in total darkness to change the paper on the drum and develop the paper with the seismic recordings. While working I usually left the radio tuned to WWV as it told me how long to leave the photographic paper in each stage of the development process. Night after night after night after night I heard “This is radio station WWV, Fort Collins, Colorado, broadcasting on internationally allocated standard carrier frequencies of … ” yada, yada, yada until it was burned into my memory as surely has the lyrics to Happy Birthday to You or Back in the USSR

    One night I even tried tuning into other stations specifically trying to locate Radio Moscow. I finally gave up trying after tuning into a station where a man and a woman with obvious mid-west accents were reading questions from that week’s “mailbag”. Imagine my surprise when they proceeded to answer the question “What is the weather like there in Moscow?”

    I lived at the Cecil H. Green Geophysical Observatory in Bergen Park from 1976 to 1981 with my newlywed bride, two dogs, and (very briefly) a cat. They were perhaps the happiest days of my life and I still have what I have come to call “Bergen Park Dreams”.

    Don’t forget to click on the highlighted links for more information.

    Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans

    Five years in the making – from PALETTE-SWAP NINJA

    Love Star Wars? Love the Beatles?
    You’re gonna LOVE this …

    http://www.paletteswapninja.com/

    Tracks 1 & 2 “Princess Leia’s Stolen Death Star Plans” / “With Illicit Help From Your Friends”

     

    Track 3 “Luke is in the Desert”

     

    Track 4 “Never Better”

     

    Track 5 “Imperial Holes”

     

    Track 6 “He’s Leaving Home”

     

    Track 7 “Being From the Spaceport of Mos Eisle”

     

    Track 8 “The Force Within You”

     

    Track 9 “AA Twenty-Three”

     

    Track 10 “Dianoga”

     

    Track 11 “Keep Moving Keep Moving”

     

    Tracks 12 & 13 “Reprise/A Day in the Life of Red Five”

     


     

    If you liked it, PLEASE consider tipping them at the link below

    http://www.paletteswapninja.com/

    NRO

    As in NROL-76 (NRO Launch-76), the recent SpaceX launch and SpaceX’s first classified mission.

    National Reconnaissance Office

    Develop. Acquire. Launch. Operate.

    When the United States needs eyes and ears in critical places where no human can reach – be it over the most rugged terrain or through the most hostile territory – it turns to the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO). The NRO is the U.S. Government agency in charge of designing, building, launching, and maintaining America’s intelligence satellites. Whether creating the latest innovations in satellite technology, contracting with the most cost-efficient industrial supplier, conducting rigorous launch schedules, or providing the highest-quality products to our customers, we never lose focus on who we are working to protect: our Nation and its citizens.

    From our inception in 1961 to our declassification to the public in 1992, we have worked tirelessly to provide the best reconnaissance support possible to the Intelligence Community (IC) and Department of Defense (DoD). We are unwavering in our dedication to fulfilling our vision: 

    Supra Et Ultra: Above and Beyond.

    Nostalgia

    Kids graduating from high school today have never known a world without cell phones … or the instant gratification of digital photography. I remember once reading an article a long time ago that said that cameras were becoming so small and cheap that there was no reason not to put them in everything. Cell phones were the logical beneficiary. Now everyone has a camera on them at all times. If Big Foot were real, someone would have gotten an HD video of her by now. 

    Photographers … professional and amateur … had to wait for film to be chemically developed in order to see the results. It could takes days before you saw the results. Film often had had to be sent out for processing. The arrival of onsite same-day processing was a big deal. 

    From my post Welcome to the Future

    • No cell phone cameras, no digital cameras, no webcams, no camcorders; both still and movie cameras used film that needed to be developed before you could see the results

    My favorite was a slide film call Kodachrome made by Eastman Kodak. So popular and high quality was this film that Paul Simon (formerly of Simon & Garfunkle) released a song about it. Kodachrome processing involved a variety of toxic chemicals and was discontinued in 2009, but its color saturation and time stability are legendary. I still have Kodachrome slides that are gorgeous even as other slides and prints have faded to red (and the lubricants in my slide projector have turned to glue rendering it useless). I keep planning to get these digitally scanned, but it’s not cheap for high quality scans and something always comes up that diverts the funds. I would like to get them scanned and begin posting then here someday.

    When not shooting Kodachrome slides I (like most everyone else) shot print film. This involved a roll of film with a “negative” image that was developed and then used to create enlarged color prints. One dropped off the film for processing and the came back to pick up the prints and negatives.

    Never knowing if any of my photos had turned out, I would take my roll of film down to the local photomat or camera store to have it developed. Invariably on the way out I would begin humming the first few bars of …

    Bonus track …

    The Womack House

    The Womack House restaurant was incorporated in 1981 on FM* 1093 east of Fulshear TX, a few months before the Mrs and I moved to Katy TX from Colorado fresh out of college. It was famous for “family style country food” and we ate there often when our kids were little.

    Our first son was born in 1983. Coincidentally “Pancho and Lefty” by Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson debuted the same year. The song was still popular several years later and I bought the cassette of the album. “Pancho and Lefty” was one of my first son’s favorite songs. The Womack House had a lounge (bar) and at the time a country-western singer named Clell Conner was a fixture. After dinner we would often retire to the lounge and Clell would play “Pancho and Lefty” for us.


    From the Houston Chronicle …

    “It was located in an old house with a big front porch with several porch swings,” according to Linda Linn .

    And April Andres says she once spied Nolan Ryan dining there.

    Bonnie Meyer, a former employee, remembers serving “huge platters of chicken-fried steak, catfish, meatloaf, chicken and dumplings and all kinds of fresh vegetables.

    When she worked there, she says, “the (waitresses) had to wear old-fashioned floor-length peasant-style dresses, and we would often sit on the swings outside waiting for our first customers to arrive.

    “We kind of looked like the girls on the Chicken Ranch in La Grange!” she adds.

    According to Chronicle archives, Womack House closed in 1994.

     • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • 

    I remember they had little galvanized pails of warmed saltine crackers.

    Today I had lunch with an old friend at a Chinese restaurant in a new subdivision near Fulshear. All of this new construction sort of snuck up on me over the years. Roads that I remember as dirt roads out in the country are now four lane boulevards with large tree-filled medians. On a whim, I decided to drive out to Fulshear and see if I could find The Womack House. 



    It is now a day care facility, but it is still there (complete with porch swings).

    Memories …

     
    * FM in Texas stands for Farm to Market road 

    References 

    http://m.chron.com/entertainment/article/Womack-House-1647309.php

    https://www.corporationwiki.com/Texas/Fulshear/the-womacks-house-restaurant-inc/31942959.aspx

    http://www.lib.utexas.edu/taro/ricewrc/00535/rice-00535.html

    DVD Episode 139 Jan. 16, 1982: Landmark Inn, Castroville / H Graham-Clocks, Marble Falls / J Wilson-Antique Guns, Pyote / Clell Conner-Cowboy Singer, Liberty / Spradley-Telephones, McGregor

    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pancho_and_Lefty

     

    PS “Pancho and Lefty” is a current staple on the Mrs playlist today. She has both the Merle and Willie version as well as a couple of Townes Van Zandt versions.

     

    PPS At one point we had a vinyl album (33 1/3) of Clell Conner’s music that we bought from him at The Womack House. If I can find it, I will address in a future post.

    A Blast (off) From My Past

    The image below is a screen capture from one the videos in the previous post on today’s SpaceX CRS-10 launch


    Life comes full circle. In a much earlier post I described what it was like to be standing at the water’s edge in the foreground at the last ever Saturn V launch.

      The Saturn V F1 engines were the most powerful rocket engines ever made. Each one produced over 1.5 million pounds of thrust. The five F1 engines on the Saturn V made it the most powerful launch vehicle ever at over 7.6 million pounds of thrust. Just over forty years ago on May 14, 1973 [almost 44 years as of this writing], I was lucky enough to be among the press and dignitaries sitting on the bleachers or standing in front of the turning basin at the Launch Complex 39 Press Site for the last ever Saturn V launch. I was 19 years old. My best friend’s aunt was a professional photographer. She got each of us a press pass for the launch of the Skylab space station. For a teenage space fan, who had watched every manned launch since Alan Shepard’s first suborbital Mercury launch, this was truly “dying and going to heaven”. For several days before the launch we got to go on exclusive tours of the launch site. We were able to see Walter Cronkite’s broadcast booth. NASA loaded us up with press packets and thick tomes of specifications. I can not begin to tell you how totally cool this was.


    On launch day I was one of the throng of people standing to the left of the countdown clock in the picture above.

      I was just three miles away from the launch pad. When the engines fired up, the sound of the F1 engines was felt as much as heard. The low base rumbling seemed to reach directly into my chest and vibrate my heart and lungs [dare I say it was nearly orgasmic?]. As the Saturn V rose into the sky, I could smell the burned kerosene of the exhaust as I felt the waves of warm air wafting over me. 
      This was truly a once in a lifetime opportunity.

    The SpaceX image inspired me to search the Internet and YouTube for Skylab launch images. I scored big time. The second image is screen shot from the video below. Back in the day I had a fetish for white jeans (probably expressing my inner John Lennon). Trust me – I am in there somewhere.

    Full video from 1973

    https://youtu.be/JzCXYd2v3xE

     
    The Internet is amazing. Welcome to the future.

     

    Links

    https://contrafactual.com/2013/07/20/apollo-11-main-engines-found/

    Second time is the charm

    SpaceX successfully launches CRS-10 from LC-39A | Falcon 9 first stage lands at LZ-1 

    Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Airforce Station

     

    Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A, the southern most of the two most northerly pads) with SpaceX modifications 


     


    Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1 formerly LC-13 midway down ICBM road )


    LC-39A launch

     

    Aerial view of LZ-1 landing

     

    Full coverage with some SpaceX provided historical clips

     
    Links

    Aerial snapshots from Apple Maps (TOMTOM)

    Welcome to the Future – the revolution will be Tweeted