Tacoma WA | Favorite Places

We visited Tacoma in August to see our son. He lives a few blocks from Commencement Bay. The bay is visible from his windows, as is Mt. Rainier. We enjoyed a wide variety of sights and activities. We spent several evenings at a city waterfront park enjoying the view of the bay and some ships. See the arrow on this map.

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More highlights here…Enjoy

Hiking from Sunrise on Mt. Rainier

by Melanie and Jim

Earlier this month we visited our son in Washington. (See posts here and here. Please, wear your helmet. Really.) People who live there enjoy outdoor adventures all year long. The mild weather, ocean and other waterways, and the Cascade Mountain range provide lots of opportunities to get out.

We were out a lot, too. One of our primary goals was to hike at Mt. Rainier National Park.
mtn across meadow

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My Visit With Galloping Gertie

Melanie McNeil:

Jim’s great post about our visit to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

Originally posted on JAR Blog:

One of the teaching units I enjoyed most in my physics classroom was on wave motions. Almost everything is capable of some sort of waving motion, or oscillation. The motions come in a wide range of frequencies and amplitudes dependent upon the object. Smaller objects tend to have high frequencies and small amplitudes. Large objects tend to have low frequencies and large amplitudes of motion. It is a fascinating field of study.

Some objects respond to an input of energy of some specific frequency and begin oscillating with the same frequency as the source. Their motion can grow in amplitude as the source of energy continues. A simple example is a pendulum with a child on a swing. Pushing the child at the right time inputs energy to drive the amplitude larger. The energy of drawing a violin bow across the strings of a violin sets some of the strings into vibrations that are large…

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Wear Your Helmet

by Jim and Melanie

It was a little past 7 pm. Dinner was finished. The three of us decided to go to the waterfront park for the evening to enjoy the bay and watch people.

“I rode 65+ miles yesterday morning with the bicycle group. My legs are tired from that hard ride. I could use a slow ride to stretch and relax. You two go ahead to the park and find a bench in the usual place. I’ll follow up and meet you a few minutes later on my bicycle.”

We drove down the steep hill to the waterfront. I could see him farther back in the distance in the rear-view mirror going slowly down the rough streets. We reached the parking area and crossed the street to get onto the walkway. It was a beautiful evening. Many people and some other bikers were out. Cars were going along the street, some entering and leaving driveways to restaurants. One car leaving in front of us backed up a few feet to allow us to walk past. We waved our thanks.

We were perhaps 20 feet past that driveway when we heard a strange crashing noise behind us. A bicyclist was sprawled face down on the pavement where we had just walked. He was not moving. The car that allowed us to pass was still sitting there, waiting to see what he would do. Then the realization hit us. That was our son on the pavement!

What happened next?

The Mercury 13

by Melanie

Have you ever heard of the Mercury 13? I hadn’t until recently. While visiting an air and space museum, I noticed an exhibit on this amazing group of aerospace pioneers.

In 1959 NASA began the process of identifying the nation’s first astronauts. From an applicant pool of more than 500 men, extensive physical and mental exams led to selecting the first seven astronauts. All of them were military pilots, and they were known as the “Mercury 7.”

A doctor who helped develop the tests for those men, Dr. W. Randolph Lovelace, wondered how women would perform on the same tests. In 1960, he began a study to find out. He invited a noted female pilot, Geraldyn “Jerrie” Cobb, to participate in his study. After she passed all three phases of testing, other women pilots were invited into the study.

According to Wally Funk, one of those selected, “The women were to be under 35 years of age, in good health, hold a second class medical, four year college education, a commercial rating or better and have over 2,000 hours of flying time.” Many of the pilots were members of a group called the “Ninety-Nines,” an organization established in 1929 of female pilots, which continues to this day.

Thirteen women, the Mercury 13, passed the tests available and were chosen to continue in the program. They were Jerrie Cobb, Wally Funk, Irene Leverton, Myrtle “K” Cagle, Janey Hart, Gene Nora Stumbough (Jessen), Jerri Sloan (Truhill), Rhea Hurrle (Woltman), Sarah Gorelick (Ratley), Bernice “B” Trimble Steadman, Jan Dietrich, Marion Dietrich and Jean Hixson.

Unfortunately, the women and their program were never officially part of NASA. Twelve of the 13 were not allowed to complete the Phase III testing. Their program was cancelled.

After lobbying of both President Kennedy and Vice President Johnson, congressional hearings were held in 1962 about the gender discrimination involved in canceling the program. According to WIRED Magazine,

The would-be Mercury 13 astronauts would ultimately be held to a different standard than their male counterparts. Some NASA officials speculated that female performance could be impaired by menstruation. Others wanted pilots who had already flown experimental military aircraft — something only men could have done, since women were barred from the Air Force.

It was not until Sally Ride‘s shuttle flight in 1983 that an American woman flew into space. This despite the qualifications of thirteen remarkable women more than 20 years earlier.

Members of the First Lady Astronaut Trainees (FLATs, also known as the “Mercury 13”), these seven women who once aspired to fly into space stand outside Launch Pad 39B near the Space Shuttle Discovery in this photograph from 1995. The so-called Mercury 13 was a group of women who trained to become astronauts for America’s first human spaceflight program in the early 1960s. Although FLATs was never an official NASA program, the commitment of these women paved the way for others who followed. Visiting the space center as invited guests of STS-63 Pilot Eileen Collins, the first female shuttle pilot and later the first female shuttle commander, are (from left): Gene Nora Jessen, Wally Funk, Jerrie Cobb, Jerri Truhill, Sarah Rutley, Myrtle Cagle and Bernice Steadman. Image credit: NASA

Ogden Nash, 1902-1971

A friend celebrates her birthday today. (Happy birthday, mj!) When I looked at the calendar and noticed that, I remembered another birthday today, as well. One of America’s favorite poets, Frederic Ogden Nash, was born on August 19, 1902. His free-form style allowed made-up words and rhyming lines of varying lengths. The off-kilter style endeared him to readers delighted by the inherent humor.

His first book, The Cricket of Garador, was a children’s book published in 1925. His first poetry was published in the New Yorker magazine in 1930. He continued writing well into the 1960s, publishing more than 500 pieces of verse, as well as three screenplays and a Broadway hit play.

A prolific writer, he’s often remembered for humorous poems on animals. Here are three you might recognize:

The Cow
The cow is of bovine ilk;
One end is moo, the other is milk.

The Fly
The Lord in His wisdom made the fly,
And then forgot to tell us why.

The Dog
The truth I do not stretch or shove
When I state that the dog is full of love.
I’ve also found, by actual test,
A wet dog is the lovingest.

These child-friendly verses, for many of us, were one of our first introductions to poetry. However, he also wrote for an adult audience, as evidenced by this reading of A Tale of the Thirteenth Floor. 

Nash had a writing voice all his own, with uneven rhythm and unconventional rhyme. The sophistication of his verse was revealed in his observations on his own life as well as society around him. Marriage and children, aging and illness, wealth and work, were all topics he took on. The poem “I Never Even Suggested It” considers the negotiations within a marriage to keep the peace.

A more humorous take on the relationship between men and women can be found in this:

Reflexions on Ice-Breaking
Candy
is dandy
But liquor
is quicker

His Take on Wealth in American Society Rings True Today

His views on wealth in society resonate within our current environment of increasing economic disparity. These pieces give you a taste of his observations:

Lines Indited with all the Depravity of Poverty
One way to be very happy is to be very rich
For then you can buy orchids by the quire and bacon by the flitch.
And yet at the same time People don’t mind if you only tip them a dime,
Because it’s very funny
But somehow if you’re rich enough you can get away with spending water like money
While if you’re not rich you can spend in one evening your salary for the year
And everybody will just stand around and jeer.
If you are rich you don’t have to think twice about buying a judge or a horse,
Or a lower instead of an upper, or a new suit, or a divorce,
And you never have to say When,
And you can sleep every morning until nine or ten,
All of which
Explains why I should like very, very much to be very, very rich.

Reflection on the Fallibility of Nemesis
He who is ridden by a conscience
Worries about a lot of nonscience;
He without benefit of scruples
His fun and income soon quadruples.

This excerpt from “Bankers Are Just Like Anybody Else Except Richer” may sound prescient:

This is a song to celebrate banks,
Because they are full of money and you go into them and all
you hear is clinks and clanks,
Or maybe a sound like the wind in the trees on the hills,
Which is the rustling of the thousand dollar bills.
Most bankers dwell in marble halls,
Which they get to dwell in because they encourage deposits
and discourage withdrawals,
And particularly because they all observe one rule which woe
betides the banker who fails to heed it,
Which is you must never lend any money to anybody unless
they don’t need it.

And even more pointed:

The Terrible People
People who have what they want are very fond of telling people who haven’t what they want that they really don’t want it,
And I wish I could afford to gather all such people into a gloomy castle on the Danube and hire half a dozen capable Draculas to haunt it.
I don’t mind their having a lot of money, and I don’t care how they employ it,
But I do think that they damn well ought to admit they enjoy it.
But no, they insist on being stealthy
About the pleasures of being wealthy,
And the possession of a handsome annuity
Makes them think that to say how hard it is to make both ends meet is their bounden duity.
You cannot conceive of an occasion
Which will find them without some suitable evasion.
Yes indeed, with arguments they are very fecund;
Their first point is that money isn’t everything, and that they have no money anyhow is their second.
Some people’s money is merited,
And other people’s is inherited,
But wherever it comes from,
They talk about it as if it were something you got pink gums from.
Perhaps indeed the possession of wealth is constantly distressing,
But I should be quite willing to assume every curse of wealth if I could at the same time assume every blessing.
The only incurable troubles of the rich are the troubles that money can’t cure,
Which is a kind of trouble that is even more troublesome if you are poor.
Certainly there are lots of things in life that money won’t buy, but it’s very funny —
Have you ever tried to buy them without money?

Other Notes on Nash

Nash made the city of Baltimore his home, and he was a tremendous fan of the Baltimore Colts. In 1968 he wrote a feature for Life Magazine on his beloved team. One of the poems in the feature memorialized a game forcing a play-off against the Green Bay Packers.

Is there a Baltimore fan alive
who’s forgotten Tom Matte in ’65?
The Colts by crippling injuries vexed,
Unitas first and Cuozzo next–
What would become of the pass attack?
Then Matte stepped in at quarterback.
He beat the Rams in a great display,
He did – and he damn near beat Green Bay.
Ask him today to plunge or block,
Tom’s the man who can roll or rock.
In Tokyo, they say karate
In Baltimore, they call it Matte.

When the first class stamp honoring the poet’s centennial was presented in 2002, the ceremony at his Baltimore home included members of the Colts team.

Ironically, I was reminded of him a while back when remarking in a comment about pelicans. Two different people responded with slightly different versions of this poem, which they attributed to Nash:

A wonderful bird is a pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week;
But I’m damned if I see how the helican.

However, the attribution has been muddied over time. According to this article, Nash was not the author. In fact, it states that the poem was written around 1910 by Dixon Lanire Merritt, editor of Nashville’s paper The Tennessean.

Regardless, Ogden Nash is an American poet to celebrate. His views and writings on the twentieth century still resonate today, and his humor and style stand the test of time.

Do you have favorite poems or memories of Ogden Nash to share?