Monday, November 24

Quotes worth remembering

Down through our nation's history men have uttered memorable phrases which remain with us throughout our lives, e.g. "Give me liberty or give me death,"  "Walk softly but carry a big stick," "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," "Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country," "I am not a crook," "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall," "It's the economy stupid," "Yes we can." Most of these came from politicians, but others have made memorable contributions as well. Consider this "Notable Quote " from Steve  Martin, actor and comedian, found in The Island Packet, Bluffton, SC, on November 24, 2014: "I love money. I love everything about it. I bought some pretty good stuff. Got me a $300 pair of socks. Got a fur sink. An electric dog polisher. A gasoline-powered turtleneck sweater. And, of course, I bought some dumb stuff too."
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Sunday, November 9

Tearing down the Berlin Wall

On November 9, the world marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.
Part of the wall saved as a memorial.
I was in Berlin twenty-five years ago when the Berlin Wall, erected in 1961 to separate East Berlin from the West, began to crumble (and would eventually come down.) In November 1989, following months of civil unrest in East Germany, the Communist government said people could travel between East and West.

My wife, Mary (died December 29, 2010), and I took advantage of a great price on an American Airlines flight to Germany to enjoy our first overseas trip together. We traveled in both East (Communist controlled) and West Germany, and spent a night in Salzburg, Austria.

We landed in Frankfurt and went on to Munich. While there we visited Dachau, the first concentration camp established by the Nazis. We were deeply sorrowed and affected by the horrific place in history the camp represents. We traveled to Oberammergau and visited some castles. Our next stop was Berchtesgaden but it was late when we arrived and we stayed the night across the border in Salzburg.

We drove the Autobahn toward Berlin through East Germany (getting in and out was an exercise in paperwork and paying fees) and later spent more two hours stuck on the road because of an accident ahead of us. We eventually arrived in West Berlin, the most exciting part of the journey. I visited Kennedy Platz where President Kennedy gave his “Ich bin ein Berliner” speech and talked with a German who had been there on the occasion so many years earlier. I was at Checkpoint Charlie and considered crossing over in the night to sight see but an American military officer recommended waiting for daylight. We took an organized bus tour of East Berlin the next day and found it much subdued in contrast to the lively and vigorous West Berlin.

We went to the Wall, separating Berlin into the Communist zone and the Democratic West, which was being attacked with small hammers and light hand tools by enthusiastic and almost delirious Berliners. (Starting officially in 1990, the government used heavy duty demolition equipment and by 1992 the nine miles of concrete, barbed wire, alarms, lights and buffer zones (killing fields) were gone.) Mary and I joined the throng of Berliners – West and East - and knocked some stones and bricks loose. I gathered a large handful of small pieces of rock and stone. Later, when we were back home, I divided these into five small plastic snack bags, labeled them and gave one to each of our children at Christmas as a memento of an historic moment in their lifetime.

On our final day we went on to Magdeburg, at the time one of the most depressing towns in East Germany, and then to Bonn and Frankfurt for the flight home.

Sunday, October 26

Madrac Farms - A pleasant Saturday Trip

There is always something new to do in life. Over the weekend I made a trip to a pumpkin farm on Ralph Rahn Road in Rincon, Georgia. My wife, Joyce, and her step-daughter, Perry McGuiness,visiting from Minnesota, also made the trip.
I bought tickets for the farm in late September through one of those Groupon e-mails offering dollars off the admission. I originally planned to use them in early October when a couple of my sons were visiting. Time was against us on that occasion.
When I saw the site one thought that occurred was how the owner(s) of the farm were maximizing their investment. In addition to raising crops of corn, sunflowers, and pumpkins for sale, they were using them as backdrops to a fun time and pleasurably experience for adults and children. Especially children. The corn and sunflower crops had already been harvested. Loads of pumpkins were already gone to market but the patch had enough left to remain as the main attraction. The rest of the story can be told best by pictures:

Joyce and Perry

Joyce and the Blogger

Into the maze of the maize.

The Sunflower Patch

Perry in the hay wagon; a converted peanut wagon.

The little ones experienced the ride.

Posing for a picture for the family album. 

Kids enjoy having their face painted.

This is me coming down the slide as Perry cheers me on.

Visitors were invited to pick their own pumpkin.

A sight to enjoy and remember: Madrac's Pumpkin Farm.

Sunday, October 19

Network signal ---- re-visited

I thought I had my Internet router strength/distance problem worked out. (Ref. This blog, "Five bars of strength, Thursday, October 16.)  Apparently not as well as I believed. We have a new all-in-one computer in a room at the other end of the house and could not sustain adequate strength to our network access point. I found some loose change in the cushions of the sofa and bought a Linksys Wi-Fi range extender N300. The setup was simple, took only a few minutes and voila everything fell into place. The signal for the network on the new computer is five by five.

Thursday, October 16

Five bars of strength

Often it is the easiest solution which is the best and the simplest. Today's case in point: For several evenings while trying to watch a Netflix streaming (instant download) film I experienced a stop and go action. This was a recent new phenomenon and frustrating. While watching the film I would only see a portion of the scene and hear the dialogue before the film would have to reload. I incorrectly assumed it was a poor Internet connection, or my Apple internet router was too far away from the living room smart TV. The router is in one room about 50-60 from the TV in the living room. When I checked the strength I had only two of five bars showing signal power. Instinct said to get a
A router signal extender (an example)
router signal extender. I spent about an hour researching an extender for my Apple router. A Google search turned up several people with a similar problem and those who reported solving the issue did so with extenders. Rather than rush off and spend $70  $80, I decided to try using a Chromecast system (a thumb-sized media streaming device that plugs into the HDMI port on your TV) given to me last Christmas by one of my sons. This has an extender built in. While the installation was in progress, I re-read the small manual which came with my Apple router. The manual addressed interference and what could cause it. One of these was metal objects near the router. Between my router and my television set I had a couple of laptop computers and some other small metal objects very close to the router. When I removed these, the five bars of signal strength on my TV Internet connection instantly improved from two bars to five. I worked this for about half an hour and determined I had continuous reception from Netflix without stop and go aggravation. One of the films I had tried to watch last evening came through - as they say - loud and clear.

Thursday, October 9

D-Day Through French Eyes

There is hardly an American alive today who has not seen The Longest Day,” Darrell Zanuck’s 1962 epic film of the invasion of France in June 1944. This star-studded, dramatic film and other movies about World War II center on the actions and activities, usually heroic, of Allied forces on the long march to Berlin to end the Nazi reign in Europe. Recall the moment in Patton when the General, standing in his jeep as it sped down the road, replied to a common soldier’s “Where are you going General? “I’m going to Berlin. I'm going to personally shoot that paper-hanging son of a bitch.” 

Lost in all of these tales of derring-do and allied competence is an intimate picture of what D-Day was like for the ordinary French men and women living, some for decades, on the Normandy peninsula. 

Those who lived in the Normandy countryside where the landings and fighting took place were average every day people. They were farmers and villagers. They had cows to milk, bread to bake, crops to harvest, children to educate, babies to be born, old and sick people to be nursed and buried.
Ms. Roberts
Mary Louise Roberts', professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, second book,  D-Day through French Eyes - Memoirs of Normandy 1944, brings to life the personal stories of some of the French men and women who were the first Europeans to be touched for good or bad by the greatest sea and air armada in history on the night of June 5- 6, 1944. The Allied plan was to conquer the Normandy peninsula in three weeks. It took three months.
The tales of joy, merriment, love, respect, admiration, sorrow, loss and anger are from diaries kept at the time and recollection put down on paper years later. To make an omelet you have to crack eggs, was certainly on the mind of the Normans. From the moments the paras (Allied paratroopers) began dropping from the sky to the early morning shelling from the ships off-shore that destroyed homes, churches, schools, businesses, and killed people and animals, death and destruction were all around.

Roberts says in her introduction to this easily read book, “I have chosen temoignages (testimony)  that revolve around the rich sensory details of D-Day --- the sound of artillery, the first glimpse of an American, the stench of death, and the taste of chocolate. The result is a vision of both hell at the hands of the occupiers and joy at being liberated.” In most instances testimony is prefaced with an explanation and perspective by Roberts to help the reader become enmeshed as if living in the day.

Perhaps for the first time, D-Day through French Eyes offers readers the opportunity to balance the stirring events of those dramatic, impacting days as portrayed by Hollywood, and what it was like to live in the path of D-Day.

Sunday, October 5

October an abundance of birthdays

In the Archibald family, October is always a good month for the Hallmark Greeting Card company and other providers of well wishes and good cheer. My birthday is on the 2nd, my wife, Joyce's, is on the 3rd, my daughter Wynn's day is the 12, my late wife, Mary, was born on the 13, my brother, Walter, was born on the 15 and my son James was born on the 17. And this doesn't even get down to the nieces, nephews and other relatives who came into this world in the 10th month.
Two of my sons and a nephew
On the grounds at Honey Horn museum, Hilton Head

A cake for my daughter, Wynn.
Dining at Old fort Pub, Hilton Head

Joyce and flowers sent by my children.
came to visit and we had a couple of good days together. My daughter Wynn was expected but a child's sickness kept her at home. We missed her and her ill son and it took a bit of doing to resist cutting her cake I had decorated with the insignia of her company, Bee-Sharp, through which she empowers teachers and school administrators. We're sorry she and Cooper didn't make it, but we sent the cake intact.