Moon Over Mankind – WIF Space

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Fascinating Facts

About

Our Moon

Ever since man looked up at the stars, he has been fascinated by the big round white hunk of rock that hangs in the sky above us. The Moon has featured in religious beliefs and in the lore of countless cultures and societies. Due to human curiosity, we set out to understand the Moon further, and what we have learned is sometimes even more interesting than the legends themselves. Join us below as we explore our Moon and revel in its glory.

10. Helium 3

mining-helium-3

Many people, upon hearing that countries still plan to return to the Moon, often wonder why. Some people don’t really think much of a big hunk of dull rock that isn’t even made of cheese. However, the Moon has something much more valuable than stale Gouda underneath the surface. Enter Helium 3, a lightweight isotope that could single-handedly fix our energy problems. Helium 3 can be used in nuclear fusion sans the radioactivity, making it a way safer process. This isotope has already been tested, and has been found to be incredibly efficient. While mining it would be extremely expensive, the costs would be well worth the gain. Imagine a future with safe, affordable, clean energy for the entire world.

9. Water

Bullialdus-RGB

These days, scientists are on a roll finding all kinds of cool new things, and the Moon has been no exception. While many people would suggest all kinds of strange things that could be on the Moon, such as extraterrestrial beings or maybe all of those socks that you lose in the washing machine, what scientists actually found is much more surprising. Using remote imaging, scientists scanned the crater Bullialdus near the equator of the Moon, and found water molecules locked in the rocks deep below the surface. Found beneath the surface, it is referred to as magmatic water and is thought by scientists to have originated due to solar wind that impacted on the surface of the Moon.

8. Preserved Footprints

moon-footprint

As you know, our Moon doesn’t really have much in the way of an atmosphere, but what you may not realize is that this has some very interesting implications. Namely, things don’t erode very easily, so the footprints left by US astronauts in the ’60s and ’70s are still preserved, and should be for a long time. This unique situation has given a brand new thing for people to worry about, and US lawmakers spent time that they were getting paid for in an attempt to legislate the issue. You see, some people are worried that, with commercial organizations getting into space flight and other countries working towards landing on the Moon, that we needed to make sure no one messes with our historical imprint. For this reason, lawmakers tried to pass a bill making the Moon landing site a national park. This failed, though NASA has asked people to at least attempt to respect the original lunar landing site, should they somehow end up there.

7. Spaceship Moon Theory

secret-moon-base

It’s a God! It’s a huge hunk of cheese in the sky! It’s … an alien spaceship? The Moon has been the victim of many strange origin stories over the years. Many have been convinced that the Moon is some sort of God that needs to be worshiped, and some people actually think it is made of cheese. However, perhaps the oddest theory is that the Moon is the remains of an alien spaceship left orbiting earth. The theory starts with the supposition that aliens have been seen on the surface of the Moon. At one point, the United States even experimented with remote viewing, although they decided it was pure rubbish.

But it gets weirder. Those who subscribe to the theory claim that the Moon’s deposits of rocks such as chromium, titanium and zirconium were actually because they were strong building materials for the alien’s enormous spaceship. Those who believe this claim that the Moon’s surface is actually armor plating and was used to protect from meteorite impacts, although they believe the Moon has been abandoned for some time.

6. Moonquakes

moonquake

Over forty years ago while visiting the Moon, astronauts left seismometers that sent data back to the scientists waiting on good old terra firma for results. These seismometers were left active for over a decade and now many years later a professor from Notre Dame and his team set to work once again looking at the data.

What they found is that the Moon has earthquakes or “moonquakes” as it were. Apparently there are several different kinds of quakes that can happen on the Moon. The first are hundreds of miles below the surface, some are simply vibrations set off by meteorites striking the surface. Still others are simply due to thermal expansion. and then there are the shallow moonquakes, the ones that, according to the scientists, we need to watch out for. These are only tens of miles below the surface and can reach a 5.5 on the Richter scale. However, quakes on the Moon have some features that differ from ours and make them more intense. Many of these shallow moonquakes went on for a good ten minutes, and the researcher in charge said the Moon was “ringing like a bell”. Learning more about these quakes is very important if any country is ever to set up a base on the Moon.

5. The Man in the Moon

man-in-the-moon

Long ago before all of our precious modern technology, man looked up at the Moon and wondered about it. For one thing, what was that strange outline that looked like a man on its surface? Wanting to explain the strange shape, people made up many different stories about the Man in the Moon. While these stories have different variations they usually feature a man who was banished to the Moon as punishment for working on the Sabbath and some versions include a woman who was punished with him for a similar crime. However, some legends suggest the man was actually Cain, exiled to our lonely Moon as punishment because his offering was not pleasing to God.

4. Moon Base

Lunar-base

Suggesting that NASA will build a base on the Moon has turned into almost something of a joke in the United States. NASA keeps talking about it and people keep making plans or claiming it is going to happen, and it just never quite gets off the ground. However, while the United States may have been the first to land on the Moon, they may not be the first to establish a permanent base. Supposedly, the Russians plan to head to the Moon with some cosmonauts in 2025, and hope to have a base established a few years later, but they have the countries of Japan, China, and India close on their heels. China especially has ambitious plans of their own and has come up with advanced concepts for their own plans to establish a fully-working base on the Moon by the year 2050.

3. Blue Moon

blue-moon

You’ve probably at some point in your life heard the expression “once in a Blue Moon” and thus know it means something that doesn’t happen very often. However, interestingly there is some confusion as to how not often a Blue Moon actually occurs. Some people are under the impression that it is when two Full Moons happen in the same exact month, but this isn’t accurate. Essentially, a Blue Moon is when a particular season has four Full Moons instead of only three.

Much more interesting though, is that under certain circumstances the Moon can truly appear blue to the naked eye. According to scientists, volcanic eruptions can cause huge plumes of ash to spread out over the atmosphere and scatter red light particles. Particularly strong eruptions such as the volcano Krakatoa caused people to see blue Moons and lavender suns for literally years. According to some people as recently as the 1980’s, after the Mt. St. Helen’s eruption a Blue Moon was visible in some parts of the world.

2. Outer Space Treaty

space-treaty

We mentioned earlier that one lawmaker tried to have the lunar landing site made into a national park, but it turns out that there is a really good reason why his legislation failed. It may not be obvious to those outside the US at first, but the Moon is not actually our property. The Moon orbits the Earth, and is not claimed in particular by any one group of people.

This presents a unique problem when it comes to colonizing, mining from, or even landing on the Moon. Many years back, during the Cold War, some people were afraid the Moon might end up a serious point of contention, perhaps even used as a military base or a place to launch missiles. After much diplomatic back-and-forth, a treaty was finally agreed upon that essentially makes the Moon international territory, from which no one is allowed to conduct any military operations.

1. Dark Side of the Moon

dark-side-of-the-moon

You’ve probably heard the phrase “dark side of the Moon” before; after all, it was one of Pink Floyd’s most well known albums. What you might not realize though, is that the phrase actually doesn’t make any sense. You see, the Moon is mysterious and has a whole secret life we know nothing about, and by that we mean there is a half of the Moon we never see. However, while the Moon only shows one side to us, it still shows both sides to the Sun, and the “dark side” gets plenty of light. Interestingly, if you take this the other way around, it means that if you looked at the Earth from the surface of the Moon, you would end up with the same effect. The Earth would continue to show you the same side, and remain in the same place in the sky every single day.


Moon Over Mankind –

WIF Space

Blastoffs, Landings, Moonwalks and You – WIF Space Travel

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Unusual Aspects

of NASA’s

Apollo Missions

In July 1969 – five decades ago, and just eight years after President Kennedy challenged the United States to land a man on the moon – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin accomplished the task to international fanfare. They were of course just the tip of the sword. The lunar landings were a massive accomplishment, supported by an international network of communication stations and strategically located ships. It had required advances in the preparation of food and the disposal of waste; the exact determination of contingencies beyond the ken or caring of most of humanity. It was a scientifically determined exercise which required, at the end, the courage of three men strapped atop what was essentially an enormous bomb. At the time, only a few unmanned vehicles had been dispatched to the moon, and more than a few had failed spectacularly.

Scientists, engineers, mathematicians, cooks, tailors, technicians, administrators, politicians, and virtually every discipline known to humanity had contributed to the effort, striving to consider in advance every potential contingency and have in place the means to deal successfully with whatever event may arise. Fifty years later much of their efforts can be viewed as nearly quaint, particularly when one compares the computing power of one’s smartphone with that of the Lunar Excursion Module, which carried Armstrong and Aldrin to the surface of the moon and returned them to rendezvous with their colleague, Michael Collins, in lunar orbit. As with all of humanity’s great leaps forward, there are many aspects little remembered, but which were a part of the event and the community which accomplished it. Here are just a few.

10. NASA took steps to protect the Earth from moon germs, but they weren’t foolproof

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the only two men of Apollo 11 to walk on the moon, but upon their return to the mission’s Command Module they were reunited with fellow astronaut Michael Collins. Thus it was determined by whomever determined such things that all three astronauts could have been exposed to unknown microorganisms while on their journey, and that it was a wise precaution to isolate the three astronauts from the rest of the human race upon their return to earth, at least for a short time. Accordingly NASA constructed a Mobile Quarantine Facility (MQF) to house the three upon their return, and it was waiting for them aboard USS Hornet. It was, essentially, an Airstream trailer which had been properly modified. Since they had made contact with other humans as part of exiting the spacecraft floating merrily in the Pacific, those potentially contaminated worthies joined them in the trailer.

Within the confines of the Airstream – which was actually built by Airstream – the three astronauts were seen via television chatting with American president Richard Nixon. What the public did not see was that the astronauts, and those recovery personnel isolated with them, were doing what many vacationers did when temporarily residing in their Airstreams. They were enjoying martinis. Perhaps it was the alcohol which stymied lunar pathogens, or perhaps it was a bit of over-caution on the part of NASA officials, but after three weeks the quarantined men were allowed to return to the life of the living, having exhibited no ill effects caused by moon germs (Not all the time was spent in the Airstream. They were transferred to a larger isolation facility after being flown to Houston). After Apollo 14 (the Apollo 13 astronauts were not quarantined, having never reached the moon) isolating the astronauts upon return was deemed to be unnecessary.

9. A piece from the Wright Brothers’ airplane was carried to the moon by Neil Armstrong

Humanity first achieved powered heavier than air flight in December 1903, when Wilbur and Orville Wright launched their Flyer into the air at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Less than 66 years later the first men walked upon the surface of the moon. Millions of people who were alive when the first flight was accomplished were still alive to see men on the moon. Neil Armstrong, like the Wrights, was an Ohioan, and it was his decision to take to the moon with him a tribute to the men who had not only achieved the first flight, but had developed the principles of control which still determine the ability to fly. To do so he enlisted the help of the Museum of the United States Air Force, also located in Ohio, and obtained pieces of the Wright Flyer, one of muslin fabric from the left wing of the aircraft, the other a piece of wood from the left propeller.

Armstrong took advantage of an authorized piece of equipment carried by the astronauts known as the PPK – NASA speak for the Personal Preference Kit. Basically it was a purse, made of Teflon coated fabric, and roughly the size of a standard lunch box. The space travelers were limited to five pounds or less of personal items, which they were allowed to carry to the moon and back. Although no one knows for certain what else Armstrong took with him to the moon (there has been speculation that personal items which had belonged to his late daughter were carried) the pieces of the Flyer which went to the moon were brought back with him. Both the swatch of fabric and the piece of wood are in the possession of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington today, having been, like a man, taken to the moon and returned safely to earth by the end of the decade, as President Kennedy had challenged.

8. The Apollo Program missions were a massive undertaking in terms of workers

It is difficult to accurately estimate the number of people who directly supported the Apollo program and its accomplishment of landing Americans on the moon. Earlier programs, from which some workers had already retired, were essential to the success of Apollo, though they are not usually counted. By the time of the launch of Apollo 11 in July 1969, NASA had already been subjected to cutbacks in other programs. The United States military also provided active duty personnel, particularly the US Navy, whose ships provided the recovery vessels for retrieving returning astronauts and their spacecraft. Other military organizations used the Apollo missions (and other space missions) to hone their missile tracking skills as part of their continuous training towards stymieing the Soviets during the ongoing Cold War. So a true number is somewhat difficult to pin down when counting those who made Apollo a success.

At least 400,000 men and women were directly involved in the successful landing on the moon. Whether this number considers those who were tangentially involved – such as those who prepared the recipe for a space dinner – is debated. Regardless, the effort was truly a national one, involving contractors and subcontractors from virtually every American state. President Kennedy had exhorted “this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal” and the nation responded in a manner not seen since the industrial buildup during the Second World War, and unfortunately, not seen since. Each Apollo space mission, including all of the components of the boosters and the Apollo system itself, comprised over 5.5 million individual parts, any of which could have led to a catastrophic failure and the loss of the lives of the three men which rode the system into space.

7. Astronauts returning from the moon signed customs forms asserting items to declare

When Apollo 11 returned from the moon – in the form of the three astronauts and the Command Module, the rest of the equipment remained in space or on the moon – the astronauts were treated to the trappings common to heroes in American tradition. They were visited by the President of the United States. They were interviewed by the press, radio, and television. They were given ticker tape parades and the keys to the city by American towns. Streets were renamed in their honor. Later so were schools, parks, museums, highways, and other sites. But before enjoying any of the perks derived from their mission, they were subjected to the bureaucratic nonsense which is all too often part of modern life (after their period of isolation in the Airstream, that is).

The first men to return from the moon returned to US territory via the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet. From there they were flown, ensconced in their Airstream, to Honolulu, then Houston, where they entered the more spacious isolation facility. While in Honolulu they filed forms claiming that they were re-entering the United States with items to declare to customs. The items were dust and rocks collected from the lunar surface. They also had to state, as all international travelers do, their travel itinerary, and they described it as being from Cape Kennedy to Honolulu, with a stopover on the moon. All three astronauts signed the form, declaring it to be “complete, exact, and true” as if they could have possibly deviated, having just completed what was the most closely monitored trip of all time.

6. The Apollo 11 astronauts were among the most closely watched television personnel in history

Apollo 11 provided some of the most dramatic television scenes in history, presented by the astronauts themselves as they continued on their journey, and emphasized by network personnel hosting the broadcasts. Walter Cronkite – an unabashed fan of the American space program – spent hours explaining events as the mission wound on, and his competitors at the other networks did the same. Regularly scheduled television broadcasts were bumped to allow events from space to be viewed by the American public (who were paying for them through their taxes) as well as by the rest of the world. When Neil Armstrong stepped down the ladder of the Lunar Excursion Module, named Eagle by the astronauts, it was seen live on television. So were his early steps on the moon, undoubtedly the most dramatic footage yet created.

It should be no surprise then, to learn that a broadcast prepared by NASA and the astronauts engaged on a space mission should be the recipient of an Emmy award. But it went to the astronauts of an earlier Apollo mission, Apollo 7 in October 1968. Apollo 7 never left earth orbit as the astronauts went on an eleven day mission which tested the components of the program’s Command Module. Astronauts Wally Schirra, Donn Eisele, and Walter Cunningham were awarded a special Emmy award that year for their nightly broadcasts of what came to be known as the “Wally, Walt, and Donn Show,” during which they demonstrated eating in space and other daily evolutions. Later Schirra revealed that he had wanted to televise astronauts using the relief tube to answer the call of nature while in orbit, but his bosses in Houston demurred.

5. When astronauts needed clothes that moved with them, a bra manufacturer came to the rescue

As early as 1962 NASA was evaluating and testing spacesuits to be worn by the Apollo astronauts, cognizant of the fact that unlike suits to be worn only within the confines of a space capsule, the Apollo astronauts would require better range of motion and comfort. Of particular concern were the suits to be worn by the astronauts on the surface of the moon. Two companies led the bidding process to produce the Apollo suits, International Latex Corporation and Hamilton Standard. Hamilton tried to muscle ILC out of the process, but Hamilton’s spacesuits failed to make the grade required by NASA, with a great deal of the criticism coming from the astronauts themselves (the astronauts were heavily involved in all aspects of crew comfort and safety throughout the manned space program). ILC became the lead developer and manufacturer of space suits, a position it retains in the 21st century.

ILC is better known by its current name, Playtex. In 1962 it was a subsidiary of Playtex, known primarily as a manufacturer of two types of women’s undergarments, brassieres and girdles. Although girdles are all but unknown in current women’s fashions, in 1962 they were still considered a foundation (ahem) of the lingerie industry. The suit produced for the Apollo astronauts weighed just over 100 pounds minus the astronaut, and when the latter and his support pack were included the total was around 500 pounds, depending of course on the weight of the astronaut. It is a little known fact that at the same time the women’s lib movement was beginning to exhort their sisters to burn their bras, a suit designed and made by a bra manufacturer was preventing astronauts from being burned up in space. By the way, as of 2019, Playtex no longer manufactures girdles, preferring to concentrate on something called shaping wear.

4. Some of the astronauts carried contraband to the moon

America’s astronauts had an established history of smuggling unauthorized objects into space with them, to the everlasting frustration of their earthbound bosses. John Young once flew into space (Gemini 3) taking along a corned beef sandwich, mostly as a joke on his traveling companion, Gus Grissom. Both astronauts took bites from the sandwich before concerns over errant crumbs forced Young to return it to his pocket. The incident drew debate in the House of Representatives and other political posturing and drew Young a reprimand, though according to Young it was neither the first nor the last sandwich to be smuggled into space by astronauts less than enthralled with the NASA prepared official cuisine available. Alan Shephard took smuggling contraband a step further. He took along a golf club on his journey to the moon.

Specifically, he took the head of a six iron, specially modified by an accomplice (a Houston golf pro named Jack Harden) to fit an authorized piece of equipment to serve as a shaft. In the manner of golfers everywhere, Shephard also smuggled along golf balls with great secrecy, enabling him to play while his spouse thought him at work. While on the lunar surface, Shephard took out club and balls, and became the only man to hit a golf ball (thus far) while standing on the moon. According to Shephard, he shanked the first shot. On his mulligan he hit the ball “flush and it went at least 200 yards”, nice distance for a one-handed shot while wrapped in an over one-hundred pound Playtex space suit. The United States Golf Association Museum in New Jersey has the modified six iron, donated to it by Shephard at the suggestion of Bing Crosby. The balls still lie on the surface of the moon. Shephard never revealed to the world what brand they are.

3. Communion has been taken, but not served, on the surface of the moon

The second man to set foot on the surface of the moon was Edwin E. Aldrin, known to his fellow astronauts as Buzz. Aldrin was, in addition to being a veteran combat pilot (he flew 66 missions in Korea, shooting down two enemy planes), the first astronaut to hold a PhD (Astronautics, from Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and a veteran of walking in space, an Elder at Webster Presbyterian Church. While on the surface of the moon and while awaiting his commander’s first steps on the lunar surface, Aldrin took communion, an event witnessed by a respectful Neil Armstrong, who did not participate. Aldrin took communion in the form of both water and wine, with the foreknowledge of mission controllers on the ground. The event was kept from the media at the time, since NASA was already involved in a lawsuit regarding the astronauts having read from the Bible during the mission of Apollo 8 on Christmas Eve, 1968, an event broadcast to the earth on television.

Aldrin used a communion kit which had been presented to him by the pastor of his church. He poured the communion wine into a vessel and reported on the qualities it displayed in the severely lower gravity as a matter of scientific observation. Many years later (in 2009) Aldrin reflected that had he the opportunity to repeat his act, he would not do so, since the rite was a Christian one and thus not reflective of the mission’s self-stated intent to be for “all mankind.” There are other examples of astronauts taking part in religious rites while deployed in space, particularly on the space shuttle missions and while serving aboard the International Space Station, but Aldrin’s communion is the only such act to have been performed on the surface of the moon.

2. Humanity has left tons of trash and refuse on the surface of the moon

For the most part, the moon and Las Vegas have in common that what happens there stays there. There have been six manned moon missions, all completed by the United States. Twelve men, all Americans, have trod upon the lunar source. No man has ever gone back. Nearly all of the equipment taken to the moon by the missions was left behind. In return for the soil samples and rocks which Americans took from the lunar surface, left behind have been cameras, flags, shovels and other small tools, the bases of the six lunar modules, lunar rover excursion vehicles (yes, there are abandoned cars on the moon), and a host of other detritus. At least one bird feather remains there (falcon) and a hammer. The two items were used in an experiment mirroring those of Galileo, and then left to lay.

The Apollo missions aren’t the only source of man-made detritus on the moon, many unmanned space missions which reached the moon are of course still there, some of them Soviet property, making America not the only earthbound nation to litter the moon. Most estimates are that there are upwards of 400,000 tons of earth-made trash lying around,waiting for the next lunar explorer to encounter. In fact there is so much trash on the moon that missions to recover some of it have been proposed, as a means of studying the long term impacts of radiation and the lunar environment on man-made materials. The NASA History Program Office maintains an inventory of items known to have been abandoned or lost on the moon, visible online. Among the items listed is a Gold Olive Branch (sic) and just a bit lower on the same page, a Defecation Collection Device.

1. Armstrong and Aldrin both claimed that they could smell the lunar surface

Beginning with Armstrong and Aldrin, and confirmed by subsequent lunar explorers (unanimously) the surface of the moon had, or has, a unique but readily noticeable smell. First noticed by the Apollo 11 astronauts at the end of their first stroll around Tranquility Base (as they named the landing site in July 1969), it remained a subject of discussion among the small fraternity of men who have seen the earth while standing on the moon. The astronauts all noticed the smell upon re-pressurizing the cabin of the lunar module, allowing them to remove their helmets. Dust and other residue present on their boots, suits, and gloves gave off the smell, which several likened to gunpowder. Spent gunpowder. An interesting phenomena is that the smell is not detected emanating from lunar samples examined back on earth. It was only present in the lunar module, shortly after completion of re-pressurization.

While all of the astronauts who walked on the moon agreed on the existence of the smell and its similarity to the odor of gunpowder, none have ever agreed to explanations of what the smell was, or why it was not replicated when examining samples on earth. But the smell was bothersome at the time, as some scientists believed that lunar dust collected by the astronauts could spontaneously combust when exposed to oxygen, a worry not lost on Armstrong and Aldrin. Armstrong collected a handful of dust while on the moon, depositing it in a pocket rather than a sample bag, and placed it on a flat surface while the LEM was re-pressurized for the first time, ready to act should the sample begin to smolder. It did not, and the two astronauts returned to earth. The strange smell of the moon is a mystery which began, rather than ended, with man’s first trip to the moon.


Blastoffs, Landings, Moonwalks and You –

WIF Space Travel

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #116

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #116

…I am going to give those people a “welcome home” they will never forget…

Inspiring words, among other accounts, pass by the desk of the President of the United States. These are his people, the people of Herbert Love’s world and he could not be more proud. So moved is he that he breaks from his long-held tradition and leaves his handicapped Ida in the care of Major Walter Reed. The imitable and nearly invisible V.P. Garret Hobart (a lame duck by most accounts) is entrusted with Washington D.C.

I am going to give those people a “welcome home” they will never forget.”

Time to Remember-001And so he does, while rushing off to the state capitol of Florida, with most of the Washington press corps tagging along. “The gratitude of this nation will not be a mime’s cheer.” William McKinley is not just a decent man. He is forward looking in his direction, yet he seldom ignores the needs and the desires of the few. This is an important quality for a country that is expanding nearly as fast as its rapidly improving sectors of communication and travel.

In less than two months there will be a presidential election of 1900, so this trip to Florida may do wonders for McKinley’s patchy Southern support. Herb Love does not have a widely public personae, so his best friend cannot garner him support, only Love’s little slice of the Panhandle and not much more below the Mason-Dixon Line.

But this September of disaster and the related stories of heroism and triumph over adversity, may well translate into popular votes in November.

Speaking of popular, the Republican nominating committee and attending convention had decided that the office of vice-president needed upgrading. They choose Spanish-American War hero and current governor of New York state Theodore Roosevelt, to replace the ignoble Hobart, who was merely a crony of first term financier, Marcus Hanna. So it’s out with old and in with that “damned cowboy”. In political circles, that is a term of endearment.

Enough of back-door politics though.

There has not been a preponderance of “full dinner pails” in the South since the Civil War, though steady progress can be seen.  But in the wake of the hurricane, whose fury should have been given a name that progress has been set back.

As it turns out, it is not too late to cash in on the workings of the Love complement, as reported by Harv Pearson and spread nationwide by everyone’s source for news: large sheets of thin paper with black ink printing on it; singular to each city, bound by unwritten rules of fairness and confidentiality. Because of the efforts of hurricane heroes and revealing reporters, the sitting President should receive a beaucoup bump in popularity. Luck and timing is a politician’s greatest ally.


Alpha Omega M.D.

welcomehome

Episode #116


page 106

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #111

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #111

…I have family in Dayton, Ohio and a couple of cousins  messing around down in North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur…

The Wright's-001

They make their way over, not around endless fingers of lowland, occasionally gaining open water, finally expansive open water, with grassy land a hundred or more yards to the starboard.

For no apparent reason, they suddenly knife inland, down a narrow path of water and a gauntlet of tall marsh grasses. Just as suddenly, up pops the Mighty, Mighty Mississippi.

“Pilot Town!” Catfish Al points and yells to a pile of twisted wood that used to be a village.River Queen-001

“The River Queen!” John Ferrell blurts.

They also spy the listing boat, longing to be freed from the soggy silt, washed into the river from farmland upstream. Shipping has resumed on the river, but they can only get so close, without risking going aground themselves.

Without a word, Catfish Al circles around to the higher port side of the vessel, then navigating to the starboard. They are greeted by the crew.

”Who are you? What is that craft? Where did you come from?” Each has their own query.

“Me, Albert Wright – and he, the father of the newly marrieds.”

“My name is John Ferrell and I am here for James and Abigail. There may be another bad storm coming in from the north.”

“At least it won’t be a typhoon.” Captain Longfellow is thankful for that. “We were wondering why the balloons stopped coming.”

“We can ferry you to one those ships sailing upstream.” He points to an example, a ship flying the flag of Brazil or Argentina or some South American country.

Freighter

”We’ve been helplessly watching those boats for hours, didn’t imagine a nifty skiff like this to come along.” He looks sideways at Al’s invention.

John is anxious to see the kids, but cannot help quizzing the inventor of the clever craft, “Albert Wright… Wright… Your name sounds familiar.”

  “I have family in Dayton, Ohio and a couple of cousins messing around down in North Carolina, Orville and Wilbur.

“No, I was thinking of the Wrights over there in Mobile.”

 “Nope, no relatives in Alabama that I know of.”

  “How did you get the nickname, Catfish?”

  “I guess I don’t look like an Albert…?”

“Father!” James and Abbey look down the side of the River Queen.

The crew lowers a rope ladder.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #111


page 102

High Sea Hijinks – WIF Haunted Travel

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Ghost Ships

That Still

Haunt the Seas

Ghost ships, or phantom ships, make up a big part of the seafaring lore that has been passed down by sailors and fisherman throughout the years. The ships are said to be spectral apparitions that materialize on the horizon before quickly disappearing, and they are believed to be a sign of bad things to come. The term is also used to describe abandoned vessels that are found adrift with no crew or passengers, often under frightening and mysterious circumstances. Whether real stories of these derelict ships or legends about phantom craft trawling the seas, the following are the ten most famous ghost ships that continue to provoke speculation and mystery in the nautical world.

10. The Caleuche

Image result for The Caleuche

One of the most well known legends of the Chilota mythology of southern Chile describes the Caleuche, a ghost ship that appears every night near the island of Chiloe. According to local legend, the ship is a kind of conscious being that sails the waters around the area, carrying with it the spirits of all the people who have drowned at sea. When spotted, the Caleuche is said to be strikingly beautiful and bright, and is always accompanied by the sounds of party music and people laughing.  After appearing for a few moments, the ship is then said to disappear or submerge itself under the water. According to Chilota mythology, the spirits of the drowned are summoned to the ship by the Sirena Chilota, the Pincoya, and the Picoy, three Chilota “water spirits” who resemble mermaids. Once aboard the phantom ship, the drowned are said to be able to resume their life as it was before they died.

9. The SS Valencia

SS Valencia in 1904.

SS Valencia in 1904.

The SS Valencia was steamer ship that sank off the coast of Vancouver, British Columbia in 1906. The ship had encountered bad weather near Cape Mendocino, and after drifting off course, struck a reef and began taking on water. The crew quickly began lowering lifeboats holding the ship’s 108 passengers into the water, but several of these capsized, and one simply disappeared. The Valencia eventually sank, and only 37 of the roughly 180 people on board survived. Five months later, a fisherman claimed he had found a life raft with 8 skeletons in it in a nearby cave. A search was launched, but it found nothing. Thanks to its dramatic end, the Valencia eventually became the source of numerous ghost ship stories. Sailors would often claim they could see the specter of the steamer drifting near the reef in Pachena Point, and to this day the ship is the source of frequent wild theories and ghost ship sightings. In a bizarre twist, 27 years after the sinking of the Valencia, one of its life rafts was found floating peacefully in nearby Barkley Sound. The “ghost raft” was said to be in remarkable condition, and even still had most of its original coat of paint.

8. The Ourang Medan

Image result for Ourang Medan

The story of the Ourang Medan begins in 1947, when two American ships received a distress call while navigating the Strait of Malacca, off the coast of Malaysia. The caller identified himself as a member of the crew of the Ourang Medan, a Dutch vessel, and supposedly claimed that the ship’s captain and crew were all dead or dying. The messages became jumbled and bizarre before trailing off and ending with the words: “I die.” The ships quickly raced to the scene to help. When they arrived, they found that the Ourang Medan was undamaged, but that the entire crew—even the ship’s dog— was dead, their bodies and faces locked in terrified poses and expressions, and many pointing at something that was not there.  Before the rescuers could investigate further, the ship mysteriously caught on fire, and they had to evacuate. Soon after, the Ourang Medan is said to have exploded and then sank. While the details and the overall veracity of the Ourang Medan story are still widely debated, there have been a number of theories proposed about what might have caused the death of the crew. The most popular of these is that the ship was illegally transporting nitroglycerin or some kind of illegal nerve agent, which was not properly secured and seeped out into the air. Others, meanwhile, have claimed the ship was a victim of a UFO attack or some other kind of paranormal event.

7. The Carroll A. Deering

Carroll A. Deering as seen from the Cape Lookout lightship on January 28, 1921. (US Coast Guard) This image is a work of a United States Coast Guard employee, taken or made during the course of an employee's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

Carroll A. Deering as seen from the Cape Lookout lightship on January 28, 1921. (US Coast Guard) This image is a work of a United States Coast Guard employee, taken or made during the course of an employee’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

Perhaps the most famous ghost ship of the Eastern Seaboard is the Carroll A. Deering, a schooner that ran aground near Cape Hatteras, North Carolina in 1921. The ship had just returned from a commercial voyage to deliver coal in South America, and had last been spotted just south of Hatteras by a lightship near Cape Lookout. It ran aground in the notorious Diamond Shoals, an area famous for causing shipwrecks, and sat there for several days before any help was able to reach it. When they did arrive, the Coast Guard found that the ship was completely abandoned. The navigation equipment and logbook were missing, as were the two lifeboats, but otherwise there were no signs of any kind of foul play.

A massive investigation by the U.S. government followed, which discovered that several other ships had disappeared under mysterious circumstances around the same time. Several theories were eventually put forth, the most popular being that the ship fell victim to pirates or rum-runners. Others suggested that mutiny might have been the cause, as the Deering’s first mate was known to bear some animosity toward its Captain, but no definitive proof has even been discovered. The mystery surrounding the ghost ship has encouraged wild speculation, and many have argued that paranormal activity might have been responsible, citing the ship’s passage through the infamous Bermuda triangle as proof that some kind of otherworldly phenomena might be to blame.

6. The Baychimo

Cargoship Baychimo somewhere in Canada.

Cargo ship Baychimo somewhere in Canada.

One of the most amazing cases of a real-life ghost ship concerns the Baychimo, a cargo steamer that was abandoned and left to drift the seas near Alaska for nearly forty years. The ship was owned by the Hudson Bay Company, and was launched in the early 1920s and used to trade pelts and furs with the Inuit in northern Canada. But in 1931, the Baychimo became trapped in pack ice near Alaska, and after many attempts to break it free, its crew were eventually airlifted out of the area to safety. After a heavy blizzard, the ship managed to break free of the ice, but it was badly damaged and was abandoned by the Hudson Bay Company, who assumed it would not last the winter.

Amazingly, the Baychimo managed to stay afloat, and for the next 38 years, it remained adrift in the waters off Alaska. The ship became something of a local legend, and was frequently sighted aimlessly floating near the frozen ice packs by Eskimos and other vessels. It was boarded several times, but weather conditions always made salvaging it nearly impossible. The Baychimo was last sighted in 1969, again frozen in the ice off of Alaska, but it has since disappeared. The ship is believed to have sunk in the intervening years, but recently a number of expeditions have been launched in search of now nearly 80-year-old ghost ship.

5. The Octavius

Although it is now considered more legend than anything, the story of the Octavius remains one of the most famous of all ghost ship stories. The tale dates back to 1775, when it is said that a whaling ship called the Herald stumbled across the Octavius floating aimlessly off the coast of Greenland. Crewmembers from the Herald boarded the Octavius, where they discovered the bodies of the crew and passengers all frozen solid by the arctic cold. Most notably, the crew found the ship’s captain still sitting at his desk, midway through finishing a log entry from 1762, which meant the Octavius had been adrift for 13 years. According to the legend, it was eventually discovered that the captain had gambled on making a quick return to England from the Orient via the Northwest Passage, but that the ship had become trapped in the ice. If true, this would mean the Octavius had completed its passage to the Atlantic as a ghost ship, its crew and captain long dead from exposure to the elements.

4. The Joyita

The Joyita was a fishing and charter boat that was found abandoned in the South Pacific in 1955. The ship, along with its 25 passengers and crew, were en route to the Tokelau Islands when something happened, and it was not until hours later that the Joyita was reported overdue and a rescue attempt launched. A massive air search was undertaken, but it failed to find the missing ship, and it was not until five weeks later that a merchant ship stumbled upon the Joyita drifting some 600 miles off its original course. There was no sign of any of the passengers, crew, cargo, or life rafts, and the ship was damaged and listing quite badly to one side. Further inspection by authorities found that the ship’s radio was tuned to the universal distress signal, and a search of the deck uncovered a doctor’s bag and several bloody bandages. None of the crew or passengers was ever seen again, and the mystery of what happened has never been revealed. The most popular theory is that pirates killed the passengers and threw their bodies overboard, but other claims have included everything from mutiny and kidnapping to insurance fraud.

3. The Lady Lovibond

The UK has a long tradition of legends about ghost ships, and of these the Lady Lovibond is perhaps the most famous. As the story goes, the Lady Lovibond’s captain, Simon Peel, had just gotten married, and decided to take his ship out on a cruise to celebrate. He brought his new bride along—going against a longstanding seafaring belief that bringing a woman on board a boat is bad luck—and set sail on Feb. 13, 1748. Unfortunately for Peel, his first mate was also in love with his new wife, and after watching the celebrations, the man became overwhelmed with rage and jealousy and intentionally steered the boat into the deadly Goodwind Sands, a sand bar notorious for causing ship wrecks.

The Lady Lovibond sank, killing all those aboard. As the legend goes, ever since the wreck the Lady Lovibond can be seen sailing the waters around Kent every 50 years.  It was sighted in 1798 by a few different ship captains, as well as in 1848 and 1898, when it supposedly appeared to be so real that some boats, thinking it a vessel in distress, actually sent out life rafts to help it. The Lady Lovibond was again seen in 1948, and while there were no confirmed sightings on its most recent anniversary in 1998, it continues to be one of the most well-known ghost ship legends in Europe.

2. The Mary Celeste

Brigantine Amazon entering Marseilles in November 1861. In 1868 she was renamed Mary Celeste. She was found drifting with nobody aboard in November 1872, and is the source of many maritime "ghost ship" legends.

Brigantine Amazon entering Marseilles in November 1861. In 1868 she was renamed Mary Celeste. She was found drifting with nobody aboard in November 1872, and is the source of many maritime “ghost ship” legends.

Undoubtedly the most famous of all the real-life ghost ships, the Mary Celeste was a merchant ship that was found derelict and adrift in the Atlantic Ocean in 1872. The ship was in a seaworthy condition, with all its sails still up and a full store of food in its cargo hold, but its life boat, captain’s log book and, more importantly, the entire crew, had mysteriously vanished. There was no sign of a struggle, and the personal belongings of the crew and cargo of over 1500 barrels of alcohol were untouched, seemingly ruling out piracy as a possible explanation. In the years since its bizarre discovery, a number of theories have been proposed regarding the possible fate of the Mary Celeste’s crew. These include that those aboard were killed by a waterspout, that the crew mutinied, or even that eating flour contaminated with fungus led all the passengers to hallucinate and go mad. The most probable theory remains that a storm or some kind of technical issue led the crew to prematurely abandon the ship in the lifeboat, and that they later died at sea. Still, the mystery surrounding the Mary Celeste has led to much wild speculation, and others have proposed everything from ghosts to sea monsters and alien abduction as possible explanations.

1. The Flying Dutchman

In maritime folklore, no ghost ship is more famous than the Flying Dutchman, which has inspired numerous paintings, horror stories, films, and even an opera. The ship was first mentioned in the late 1700s in George Barrington’s seafaring book Voyage to Botany Bay, and since then its legend has continued to grow, thanks to numerous sightings of it by fisherman and sailors. As the story goes, the Flying Dutchman was a vessel out of Amsterdam that was captained by a man named Van der Decken. The ship was making its way toward the East Indies when it encountered dangerous weather near the Cape of Good Hope. Determined to make the crossing, Van der Decken supposedly went mad, murdered his first mate, and vowed that he would cross the Cape, “even if God would let me sail to Judgment Day!”

Despite his best efforts, the ship sank in the storm, and as the legend goes, Van der Decken and his ghost ship are now cursed to sail the oceans for all eternity. To this day, the Flying Dutchman continues to be one of the most-sighted of all ghost ships, and people from deep-sea fishermen to the Prince of Wales have all claimed to have spotted it making its never-ending voyage across the oceans.


High Sea Hijinks-

WIF Haunted Travel

Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #104

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #104

…Disaster is about pulling together…

The nation’s capitol is one place where news always travels the fastest. Calvin Falstaff, the Weather Bureau chief, has precious little good news for his boss. Herbert Love receives it in the office of his new friend, President McKinley.

“The strongest hurricane ever known to to make land in North America has hit the Gulf Coast, starting about midway on the Florida Panhandle. It skirted the shoreline, strengthening as it continued west, bore diving into Texas at Galveston.” Falstaff delivers his unwelcome information with grave undertones. Houston is his hometown. “Louisiana was hit Worst Case-001pretty hard to boot.”

“What is the worst case assessment?” The President inquires as to the possible bottom line.

“There may be ten thousand casualties and three times that injured. The entire city may be homeless and to insult to injury, the bridge connecting Galveston to the mainland has been put-out. I have been told it looks like Antietam.” There are plenty fresh memories about the Civil War.

“Damn! Were we not sure that after the low has passed over Cuba that it would simply die out.” This a close to swearing as anyone will ever hear out Herb Love’s mouth, such is the magnitude of a situation where thousands of peoples’ lives are at stake… and they, as a department, provided no warning.

“That afternoon sun of the 7th evaporated probably 10 million tons of moisture and a fast approaching cold front set the stage for a hellish one-two punch,” a scientific postmortem.

Love reacts with the emotion of a private citizen. “I’m heading for home, Bill.”

Disaster is about pulling together.

“Hitch a ride on the relief train,” speaking of an army organized venture and they do not waste time, “but you best hurry, it leaves Union Station on the hour.” McKinley gives his blessing to a critical mission of mercy.

“I am on the way… oh and have my assistant wire my wife about the arrival time. Telephone lines must be down.”

“Give the people of the South a message from me. Tell them that Washington will be behind them all the way.” The man who is campaigning for re-election with a theme of “four more years of a full dinner pail” is currently concerned about the loss of a major Southern seaport, but his heart is always with the people.


Alpha Omega M.D.

“Galveston Before the Storm” by Rene Wiley

Episode #104


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #102

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #102

Chapter Six

A FRESH ONE HUNDRED

…“The line is dead,” John Ferrell laments, in a vain attempt to retrieve some news as to the extent of the storm now passed/past…

Hurricane-001

Torrential rain, straight-line winds, hurtling debris;  Gadsden County  endures ten hours of the worst conditions that this planet can produce, a force so strong that thirty miles of continent cannot subdue it. The “storm of the century” arrives in the last months of the 19th Century’s last year.

John and Martha Ferrell did spend the night huddled in a closet, with Agnes, listening as one by one, south and east side windows blow in, sometimes with a projectile, sometimes by the sheer force of the sustained wind. Their house of stone stands sturdy. Neither they nor it know what has hit them. Daylight will reveal more than they want to see.

One thing they do see, trees previously having hidden it from sight, is the Endlichoffer chalet. They were no doubt brave, but now lay horizontal for their trouble. As a testament to Ziggy’s carpentry skills, his wooden structure passes the earnest test. One can only assume that the morning finds the occupants fine as well.

What the eye can see, the mind can only imagine. The two fastest vehicles for communication, the telegraph and the more recent invention telephone, depend on wires suspended on poles. It is unlikely that those poles are standing, as those with a telephone find out.

“The line is dead,” John laments, in a vain attempt to retrieve some news as to the extent of the storm now passed/past. He was hoping that his friend at the Tallahassee Democrat, the area newspaper, could shed some light on this apparent disaster. Did the damage extend east to Tallahassee proper, or did in fact strike to the west, perhaps threatening the lives of his son and daughter-daughter-in-law, perhaps on their way back from New Orleans.

And to think this was a glancing blow.

“I am going to check on Joseph. He probably stayed in the barn to keep the animals calm. Then I am going to check on Siegfried and Frieda, and finally ride on into town.” John’s plan is sound, the only way they will know what happened.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Episode #102


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