Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Thom Hall Rest in Peace

Today I was very sorry to hear my physics teacher from High School passed away. http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/seattletimes/obituary.aspx?n=thomas-f-hall&pid=132218206

We had so much fun with him. We used to call him coach. One day a substitute came to class and we asked, "where's coach?"
Answer: What does he coach?
I still remember snorkeling at Golden Gardens with him. Obviously it was freezing (Puget Sound is not quite as warm as Venice Beach) but we warmed up with some fish and chips. Thom Hall was a very thoughtful teacher and friend who taught physics and life.He started my interest in physics and my father later supplemented it. May he Rest in Peace.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Highs and the Lows

This summer as I strove to reach some high ground in my environs in the DC area, I had a discussion with my son about the humiliation of his resident state, Florida. The highest point in Florida is 345 feet above sea level based on my source http://geology.com/state-high-points.shtml. I told my son that I had been there and of course did not suffer nose bleed. I did try to comfort my son by pointing out that Florida might come in last in elevation, but it competes for first place on beaches. Florida beaches are amazing. My first introduction to Florida Beaches was Panama City, FL. There I was 4 hours away in Columbus, GA and my mind wandered there as the sergeants at Ft Benning, GA used to talk about their trips there. I remember taking my wife and daughter there and having a great time. There was an amusement park, Petticoat Junction (now defunct) that was fun. Of course, the beach was a great place to catch waves and I would jog along the beach while the family would catch rays. We would enjoy a good restaurant and it was enjoyable to listen to some good Country music(it wasn't my first choice growing up in Seattle) and the Casey Kasem counting down the top hits. The week did not seem like such a grind.

Back to the heights after that digression--In Seattle I looked most of the time up to Mt Rainier a 14,000 foot mountain (unless the fog obscured it which unfortunately it did many a day) I could see the Cascades rising to 10,000 feet to the east and the Olympics to the west also rising to 8,000 feet. Well naturally I got used to the mountains and I yearn for them.
There I was jogging in New Jersey in the late 70s on Arney's Mountain Road. I looked around, no longer on the mountain road and I was perplexed how I missed the mountain. I discovered that I had indeed reached the summit of Arney's mountain at about 285 feet. (Later on our all night road marches wherein we would lead the new troops in Basic Training we would summit Taylor's Mountain at 300 feet)
Anyway with this background, I needed to go at least to Shenandoah National Park this summer to get some elevation. I noted that the highest point on the road (which I passed over) and the highest point in the park (which I climbed in the past) are only about 4000 feet.
I have been to better high points than that, such as the highest point in West Virginia and Tennessee which is humorous since walking up a trail on Mt Charleston, NV takes you higher than these high points (10 grand feet). I ascended these high points with my last wife and unfortunately things went downhill after that.
Ironically, one discussion of mountains was with my daughter on the way the sea level this summer at Ocean City. My daughter is very fond of Miley Cyrus song about mountains and I tried to explain that climbing a mountain has a double meaning--to overcome obstacles.
Thankfully my daughter has not made the life journey that I have had that has taken me figuratively to the heights of Mount Everest (hard to breathe with no oxygen or excitement)actually flying a helicopter or plane looking down below and the lows of the Dead Sea--my dad and I did travel along the lowest point in the US-Death Valley (see the Last Ride)
So I have settled back home to near sea level so I will strive to elevate myself in the near future!!