Smoke Gets in Your Eyes

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This post was supposed to be “Of Slugs IV” in my little series within my series on classroom and education events. However, …


We are sort of celebrating this morning because the AQI1Air Quality Index is down to unhealthy. It rained during the night, but the smell of smoke is still in the air.

Remember the song “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” a show tune written by American composer Jerome Kern and lyricist Otto Harbach for the 1933 musical Roberta. The song was sung in the Broadway show by Tamara Drasin. But most of my generation remember the Platters release in November 1958.

What do you know about William Robinson Jr.? Er… Smokey Robinson!

Remember Lit’l Smokies? The adds said, “No Artificial Ingredients.” Good sales pitch, I think, but what is an artificial ingredient2Yes I know the definition? An ad for another product touts, “Made from real ingredients!”

Consider the reality of artificial flavors. Artificial reality? Artificial Reality is the first of book series by Myron W. Krueger about interactive immersive environments. The phrase ‘artificial reality’ brings to mind virtual and augmented reality. (Reality: the world or the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.

I had the idea that one would find more time than ever to finish multiple writing projects. There was a time when I did or had to work under the ‘time is money’ concept. Being an octogenarian with a fixed income3Fixed does not always mean not enough for the petition ‘give us our daily bread’ in the Lord’s Prayer! means that concept is long in the past.

Someone said, “the past is over – get over it.” I’ve said that phrase a few times while reminiscing events over which I had some control. Thankfully, I’ve taken that advice.

My contribution to

tells about results of following advice.


How far off an original thought can one get in less than 1000 words when there is more than enough time to stay on track? Like someone said, and I paraphrase, “Give me a week and I’ll give you ten-thousand words; give me two weeks and I can make it five-thousand.”


Next post4I think
Of Slugs IV”


Last line in Iniquities of the Fathers: A Story of Illusions and Deceptions – That evening he wrote and mailed long letters to Lillie Grand, Deb Johnson, and Sam Murphy.

Of Slugs III

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Definitions for slug used in the junior high school stories here.
any of numerous chiefly terrestrial pulmonate gastropods (order Stylommatophora) that are found in most parts of the world where there is a reasonable supply of moisture and are closely related to the land snails but are long and wormlike and have only a rudimentary shell often buried in the mantle or entirely absent.
The junior high school where these things happened won’t be mentioned, but as I implied before, but for different reasons, many teaching days at the junior high were as gut wrenching as teaching Top Secret procedures in the Army Security Agency.


It was near the end of first lunch and those students were transitioning to class while second lunch students were leaving class. The shop classroom was separated from the main building by a driveway and parking lot, so from my office window, I had a good view of the transition routes.

One of the students in my class was called Pudge by nearly everyone, including his father and most teachers at school. He seemed to accept the nickname, but I couldn’t get into that. I used his given name Paul.1Both the nickname and given name used here are to make real ID difficult.

I saw a crowd gathering and heard shouting near the main building entry. My experience told me, “fight!”

I don’t remember the taunting phrases I heard as I got to the randomly spaced circle of students, but ‘Pudge’ was included in some of the shouts. I orally separated the surrounding students and Paul was alone on the sidewalk. I asked, “what’s going on?”

Before he could answer, a girl said, “Pudge just grossed everyone out by eating a slug.”

I turned to Paul. He pointed to several snickering boys and said, “they gave me $5.00 to do it!”

I took him to the school nurse, and he spent the rest of the day in her office under her supervision. He didn’t get sick. Every now and then, I heard, “hey Pudge, you want to make some extra money?” And several times someone wrote Escargot on the menu posted in the lunchroom.

I don’t think he did it again.


I am saving ‘taking a hit2slug in the classroom’ for Of Slugs IV.


Several years ago I read an interesting book about life in the classroom – Learn Me Good by John Pearson. Then I read the sequel Learn Me Gooder. Like he did with those two, I’ve embellished a little and used composite characters. My however is, each event actually happened.


From Nescient Decoy: “The decoys appear to be calm and moving only with the wind-ripples,” he said, “so the flying birds watch them instead of what’s in the shooting blind before landing where they perceive it to be safe. Did you notice how the birds circled the pond before landing?” As I remember, I hadn’t noticed.

Hunkering Down within Hunkering Down

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This post was supposed to be “Of Slugs III” in my little series within my series on classroom and education events. However, this region is in the middle of an interruption of an interruption of life as we would have it, thus Hunkering Down within Hunkering Down.

Please do not, DO NOT, take this as a plea for sympathy or a woe is me (us) statement. All too many around us are suffering as we only hunker down within a hunker down.


Those of us who live in this region know fire in the forests isn’t unusual this time of the year. But high wind, not normal for this time of the year, came upon us. Wind and fire in the same area is very bad or worse. California has its Santa Anna winds quite often, but the same phenomenon in the Pacific Northwest is almost as rare as a salmon eating a sea lion.

We got the high wind warning and battened down the hatches. The wind came to the urban, suburban, and the forest areas. Even where there was no fire, trees went down, and power went out. Some trees falling over power lines started new fires. Dry timber fire, even when there is little wind, can move at speeds not often believed by those who haven’t experienced it. Pushed at 40 mph and higher winds, nothing stops or slows it except cessation of the wind. Tremendous human effort cannot slow it. Continuous rain is better, but in the PNW that comes later in the year.

Three evacuation levels associated with uncontrollable fire – one, get set; two, get ready; and three, go now. Many leave their homes at level two, because fire does not honor man’s boundaries on the map.

Most have heard the expression, where there is smoke there is fire. The opposite is also true, where there is fire there is smoke. The volume of smoke generated by hundreds of thousands of acres of burning timber was blown west and as satellite maps showed even miles into the Pacific. Air quality level went from good to hazardous in minutes.

Cloth face coverings already used for Covid-19 by most are as helpful for blocking wood smoke as none at all. Research shows 90% of wood smoke particles are less than one micron in diameter – bacteria averages 2 microns – talcum powder 10 microns. Short of gas masks, N95 masks are the most efficient at keeping microns from the lungs. But they and face shields do nothing for eye comfort or damage.

Campers know even a whiff of campfire smoke causes discomfort and coughing. Consider the thickest campfire smoke you’ve experienced surrounding you by 100 miles and two or three miles above you. No one can socially distance from smoke.

So, the wind stopped or nearly so. Fire advances became driven only or mostly by their own weather generation and smoke from the slowed fire advance went up for the prevailing jet stream to distribute.

So, the wind stopped or nearly so. Those micron size smoke particles blocked from rising and joining the jet stream by low level atmospheric inversion did two things. They continued to float in the air or settle to the surface.

Either way this has been far less fun for us safe from the fires than hunkering down for Covid-19 reasons. However, we know our having to hunker down a few days to stay out of the poor to hazardous air quality will end with a wind shift and some rain. Covid-19 hunkering down becomes less restrictive as we learn more, but it is still hunkering down.

Only God knows how long that will last.

We are thankful that family and friends are not in fire level 3, go now, evacuation situation, but some are in level 2 and level 1.

Remember the eruption of Mt. St. Helens? Sort of the same thing. And here we are still!
This rant is over!


Next post1I think
Of Slugs III”

Of Slugs II

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Slug defined for this story:
the ferrite1iron core of a variable inductance coil 2slug tuned inductor used to change the frequency response of electronic equipment.
As I mentioned before, my teaching experience actually started when I was in the Army. Frankly the first day I stood in front of a class was mentally horrifying and gastronomically disturbing. I was a staff sergeant with the academic administrative authority to recommend flunking a bird colonel aide to a base commander, a GS-13 embassy civilian, a political appointee, or some whose status and rank was purposely kept from me.


Several months into my teaching assignment at Vint Hill Farms Station, VA, I gave technical background lesson for those who would operate or supervise operation of specialized signal intercept electronics. Dedicated radio receivers were part of the instrument array used to demonstrate and give practice for operation in the field3in that case Vietnam. The technical background was not training to maintain the equipment.

I arrived early for my presentation of the day and found a Lt. Colonel hovered over the equipment set with the cover removed from the radio. We’d removed the covers to dissipate heat more efficiently. He said,4This isn’t a direct quote, but as I remember it. “Morning Benson. I was just getting caught up on what you told us yesterday. I noticed that several of the screws were loose and tightened them.”5Nearly the same thing happened when I was in Chitose, but it wasn’t a classroom incident.

Well, those screws to which he referred were the tuning slugs for the radio related to the instrument set. It would take at least an hour and perhaps more to retune it, but his being a Lt. Colonel, I said nothing about what one of us maintenance persons would have to do.

I faked it. “I’m in early to change out the radio for routine calibration sir. It’s easier to do on the bench than bring the test equipment out here.”6Again not a direct quote, but as I remember. I replaced the receiver and retuned it later.

Maintenance people got a good laugh when I told about the incident, and we decided all equipment would be secured in the maintenance shop or supervised at all times.


Next –
Of Slugs III will be about the interesting experience of taking a hit7slug in my junior high school classroom and a tale8not tail of an escargot in the junior high school.


From Echoes of Nam: Absence from war is not the same as peace of the soul: “I appreciate your9Hacker Lee Goor time and commitment to tell our story. It has helped a little for me to understand that for the rest of my life I’ll probably go to sleep wondering which twin he will be in the morning. For the three of us, Annie Brax”

Of Slugs I

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Slug can be defined in several ways:
the gravitational unit of mass in the foot-pound-second system to which a pound force can impart an acceleration of one foot per second per second and which is equal to the mass of an object weighing 32 pounds
any of numerous chiefly terrestrial pulmonate gastropods (order Stylommatophora) that are found in most parts of the world where there is a reasonable supply of moisture and are closely related to the land snails but are long and wormlike and have only a rudimentary shell often buried in the mantle or entirely absent
a heavy blow especially with the fist
the ferrite1iron core of a variable inductance coil 2slug tuned inductor used to change the frequency response of electronic equipment
a counterfeit coin that is used to make illegal purchases from a coin-operated device
Three of the above are related to stories from my classrooms. A classroom story about an Army Lt. Colonel and slug tuned coils will be in “Of Slugs II.”


From:
Echoes of Nam: Absence from war is not the same as peace of the soul: “I appreciate your time and commitment to tell our story. It has helped a little for me to understand that for the rest of my life I’ll probably go to sleep wondering which twin he will be in the morning. For the three of us, Annie Brax”

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“Good, Very Good, Best” is my contribution to Chicken Soup for the Soul.


High school was difficult for me in the mid-1950s. My high school counselor told me that college wasn’t in my future. I would graduate in the middle of my class. And we were poor—my widowed mother often stretched a half-pound of hamburger to feed seven kids. He concluded our pre-graduation meeting with, “Benson, I believe the military would be a good fit for you.”

I did well in the Army, and my electronics training was a foundation for later things. The counselor’s advice was good, but it wasn’t the best advice I’ve ever heard.

My work in the Army qualified me for a manufacturing job with a small company in Minnesota. It was a low-paying position, but any job to support my wife and three kids during a Midwest winter was a good job.

The agency I’d been with in the Army recruited me to return to Virginia for an unposted civilian job. The government salary wasn’t significantly higher, but health benefits and other perks gave me the incentive to accept the offer. However, I still needed a part-time job to support my family once we settled in.

So, I worked evenings and some weekends as a clerk at one of the stores in a rapidly expanding drugstore chain. After less than a year, I was recruited into the company’s management program. Compensation in the training program was equal to government employment, so with the expectation of advancement, I changed jobs. Leadership skills I’d learned in the Army were a personal asset in my new occupation.

The day I was promoted from trainee to assistant manager, my district manager said, “You’re moving up faster than most, but remember this—while climbing the ladder of success, you might have to climb back down someday. In other words, always treat those you supervise with respect and fairness.” His advice was very good, but still not the best advice I’ve ever heard.

We were spending a summer afternoon with friends from church, and our conversation turned to our work and the future. Our friends were preparing to move back to their home state, where they were both certified to teach. My friend Lyle asked about my own work and what might be ahead for me.

I told Lyle that my previous boss, who had recruited and promoted me to manager, was moving up to the corporate office. He told me I was on the fast track for supervising one of the new districts. The increased pay and responsibility seemed like a good incentive to accept the position, but I lamented that the working hours and traveling time would increase.

When Lyle asked what I’d really like to do, I told him, “Teach.” I explained that my favorite job had been teaching operation and field maintenance of communications equipment to U.S. embassy personnel when I was in the Army.

He asked if I had a teaching degree, and I told him I had taken only a few college classes. When he suggested that I could enroll and maybe transfer my previously earned credits, I said, “I’m nearly thirty-three, with house payments and a family to support. Do you know how old I’d be if I went to college now?”

He countered, “How old will you be if you don’t go?”  That was the best advice I’ve ever heard.

Three years later, I graduated with a teaching degree and started a satisfying thirty-five-year career as an education professional. I retired from teaching with an advanced degree, and now I can afford hamburger.

My high school counselor’s good advice was helpful. My district manager’s very good advice was practical. But the best advice I’ve ever heard, my friend’s question, was life-changing