Moral materialism

I have been trying to gain a better understanding of how we Americans have gotten to the point we are – as fucked up as it seems. I found an article that summarizes a view taken by the late historian David Potter:

The European settlers who first came to the country found forests stretching on forever, flocks of geese so large that they required 30 minutes to take off. All of this possibility drove the settlers sort of mad. They found themselves walking more in a day than they had ever imagined, dreaming dreams bigger than they had ever imagined. These immigrants, the ones who weren’t brought here in chains, turned entrepreneurial, disordered, antic, religiously zealous, morally charged, messianic, and perpetually restless. They measured their life by how much they had grown and how far they had climbed. They were propelled by a central contradiction: They had this intense spiritual drive to complete God’s plans for humanity on this continent—and they also had this fevered ambition to get really rich. They were propelled by a moral materialism that would never let them rest.

This follows several ideas that continually pop into my head: Manifest destiny and the fact that – indeed – America was founded as a Christian nation. I have, in the past, confused freedom of religion with freedom of belief.

Artemis SLS Launch

After several tries, starting in August, NASA was finally able to launch SLS (Space Launch System) with the unmanned Orion capsule as part of the Artemis program (Artemis I). The capsule will orbit the moon and return in a shake-down run for sending astronauts there in the coming years.

Apollo 17 – December 19, 1972

I watched the last Saturn V rocket with Apollo 17 launch at night 50 years ago. My girlfriend’s father was able to get us into Kennedy Space Center to view it. It was delayed but finally went up in the early morning hours. It lit up the sky and the roar was deafening. It was cool to see the successor launch all these years later.

Excellent Adventure 2022 Final

Logging 5200 miles over 35 days, we wove our way along the Appalachian mountains north, west, and south again to visit destinations on my bucket list.

We headed north out of Florida with overnights in Georgia and North Carolina. The first stop was in Virginia and Shenandoah National Park and a drive on Skyline Drive. From there we drove through the badlands of Pennsylvania visiting my old nemesis Three Mile Island Along the way. This took us through the land of legends to coastal Maine.

We visited Acadia National Park and spent some time along the coast. We traveled inland to stay one rainy day at a stunningly beautiful pond in Maine on a lot belonging to my friend Bill. We then drove across the top of New England with stops at Mount Washington, New Hampshire, and the Adirondack Mountains near Lake Placid and Whiteface Mountian. Fall colors greeted us along the way!

Driving south now we visited Watkins Glen and the famous raceway and state park there. Our new two stops were to explore my roots with stops in Pennsylvania at my father’s ancestral home in Snow Shoe and my mother’s hometown of Connellsville. Continuing south we drove through West Virginia and saw the New Gorge National Park along the way.

We ended up in Tennessee, near Knoxville, at the home of my friend Bill. We visited the Smokey Mountains and toured the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. From there I spent a day with my friend Laura in Georgia and then headed south to Panama City.

We finished up there with a great visit with my brother Dave and his family including my 10-month-old grand-nephew Theo! Back home to access the damage from Ian – fortunately not too bad.

Excellent Adventure 2022 Final

Next trip – Excellent Adventure 2023 – The West Coast!

Left Coast here we come!

Babies & Butterflies 👶🏼🦋

Last stop: Panama City Florida for a week with my brother Dave and his family. Dave’s son Carl, wife Kari, and baby Theo arrived towards the end of the week.

We enjoyed Lisa’s renowned cooking and spent time in the Butterfly haven she has created in the backyard of their stunning home on the bayou.

Lisa’s Butterfly Haven in Panama City

Another great set of family memories as the Tubridy family marches on!

Oak Ridge National Laboratory

K-25 Museum

Bill, Laura, and I visited some museums in Oak Ridge Tennessee. Oak Ridge is the home of the Clinton Engineer Works, now called Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Mockup of Little Boy atomic bomb at Oak Ridge National Laboratory K-25 museum.

The uranium used in the ‘Little Boy” bomb dropped on Hiroshima was made here. The effort was herculean. The world’s largest building (at that time) was built and manned to hold the hundreds of machines used to enrich the Uranium. It’s known as the K-25 site.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Called the “Top Secret” City. The K-25 site, now demolished, where uranium was enriched for the first atomic bomb in the 1940s.

There were other efforts using different enrichment techniques at other locations on the large laboratory site.

At the K-25 Site

Today the Laboratory has very active programs. Especially for the production and use of neutrons for imaging and other high-tech application, as well as programs for our nuclear stockpile.

I stumbled upon a machine there which brought back some amazing experiences from my early professional work. My first job at Boeing was to test aircraft using a much more modern version of this hardware. Later I went to work for Hewlett-Packard which was making modern vibration test systems.

This is a machine to test vibration (my first job) using a Hewlett-Packard Oscillator – HP’s first product made in the early 1940s. I worked on its successors many, many years later during my time at HP in the 1980s.

In the middle with the big dial is a Hewlett-Packard Oscillator. This was a version of the original product Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard made in the garage in Palo Alto in the late 1930s. One of the first customers was Disney which used them to make the soundtrack for the movie ‘Fantasia’ during the same time period. I actually did marketing work on the successor models many years later and was directly involved in obsoleting the product line.

We also visited the American Museum of Science and Energy which had very good exhibits on some of the newer efforts of the lab as well as its history and general information on nuclear energy.

K-25 Site Museum

Rainy drive south

We headed south for three days driving in the remnants of Ian. Fortunately, it was mostly drizzling. It made for some almost surreal scenery driving through the mountain mists of Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The mountains got ‘tighter’ in West Virginia and it seemed for a while we were always turning left, then right, then left,… Over and over again!

We stayed at a couple of interesting campgrounds. In Flatwood the campgrounds had a very nice amphitheater. I guess people come to camp and listen and watch the performances?

Flatwoods KOA Amphitheater

In Wytheville, the campground has a bowling alley! That was a first. It also offered some serious glamping opportunities in a covered wagon!

Wytheville KOA Glamping

On the second day, we passed through New River Gorge National Park. This is an area famous for its white water rafting. We stopped at the visitor center to view the famous bridge covering the span in the mist. For a while after its construction the largest single-span arch bridge in the world.

New River Gorge Bridge

The next stop is Tennesee for some time with my friends Bill & Laura. Great news it is supposed to be sunny (and colder) all week. I can finally dry out after a fairly wet trip! I plan to visit Oak Ridge while I am there. It is the home of Oak Ridge National Laboratories which had played a huge part in the development of nuclear energy (and weapons).