26 March 2008

New Computer

Last Saturday, we bought a new HP desktop PC with Windows Vista Home Premium already installed, so I started to set it up on Sunday. But first I copied all my document files from the laptop to an external hard drive; it took over an hour just to copy all my music in the iTunes folder. Loading software went OK except for the Broderbund Print Shop 20, which is no longer supported by Broderbund. So I dug up version 15 and loaded that with no problems. I managed to get my mail working, but only one of the three addresses, so I need to get Cox involved in that process. (We use Mozilla Thunderbird for mail and Mozilla Firefox for Internet access.) The PC came with Norton security, which I un-installed, because we subscribe to McAfee. The surprise came when I opened my iTunes file and found more music than I had on the laptop computer. Somehow or other, some tunes were duplicated, others were there but with no data other than the name of the tune. And when I tried to delete the duplicates, I couldn't. They're still there. Anyone have any ideas?

14 March 2008

An Adventure

The first school trimester at Michigan State College ended in the middle of December (1948), so Bill Cass, one of my 13 roommates, and I decided to hitchhike home. Bill was from Frewsburg, in southwest New York state, and I was from Rochester, so we could travel together to Buffalo before going our separate ways. Because of the cold winter weather, I was wearing a sweater, my ROTC winter coat covered by a top coat, with a scarf wrapped around my neck. As was the custom in those days, neither of us wore a hat.

We started out in East Lansing by riding with a family as far as Port Huron. Our good fortune continued as we were picked up by a trucker who took us to Hamilton, Ontario. It was early evening when he let us off. Shortly thereafter, we were picked up by a hockey player who was going as far as Buffalo. Bill hopped into the front seat and I settled into the back seat and promptly fell asleep, expecting to be awakened in Buffalo. Imagine my surprise when I woke up to a pleasant female voice telling me to wake up for breakfast. More surprise when I opened my eyes to find it was a nurse in the St. Catherine‘s Hospital. And I with my right arm taped to my chest. Bill was in an adjacent bed.

The story, as I found out later, was that the car skidded on some ice and slid into a steel light post, hitting about where my knees were. The ambulance crew thought at first that I was dead because of all the blood - caused by numerous cuts from window glass when my head hit. I suffered a broken collar bone; more severe injury was avoided probably because of all the padding I was wearing. I was asleep, then probably knocked unconscious by the blow, then sound asleep again in the hospital bed. I did have the sensation that I saw the lamp post coming at us, but it’s a very vague impression. The driver had a bump on his forehead and Bill had gravel in his hands as the result of being thrown out of the car when the door was flung open from the momentum.

My parents were notified and came to bring me home, where I went to visit the doctor for further treatment. He checked the x-rays, noting that the bones had shattered at the break, then left the room. I heard the sound from the basement of someone sawing wood, wondering what remodeling he was having done, when he walked back into the room carrying a piece of plywood. He had sawed it into the shape of a T and taped it to both shoulders and across my stomach. “There,” he said, “that should hold it while the bones knit.”

I wore the brace for a bunch of months, including a train trip back to East Lansing to turn in my ROTC uniform and pack up my clothes. Believe me, it’s not very comfortable to wander through life with a piece of plywood taped to one’s back. It eventually came off, and the break did knit, but to this day there’s a bump at the break.

09 March 2008


One of the shots on my home movies is of an engineer who I was working with at Haloid Xerox/Xerox Corporation in 1959 and 60. His name is Onni Niemi and the scene includes his wife and two daughters. He was dark complected; one of his co-workers asked him what his origin was and he said he was a Blackfoot Indian, at which he was asked to take off his shoe and sock and prove it. Well, he didn't, but he did admit to me that he was of Finnish extraction, and was embarrassed by his country's actions supporting the Nazis during World War II.

The reason this comes to mind is the recent news about Patrick Swayze and his fight with cancer. Mr. Swayze is married to a lovely woman named Lisa Niemi. I have often wondered whether or not she is related to Onni and if she might be one of the girls in my movie.

01 March 2008

Love And Marriage

When I was in grammar school, there was a taunt that was used whenever a guy was caught talking to a girl: "First comes love, than comes marriage, then comes Robert with a baby carriage."

In my day, we understood the proper sequence. Anything other than that would result in an illegitimate child, that is, a bastard, or one born "out of wedlock”, which brought shame to the family. Usually, the parents would try to find a place out of town where the child could be born, to be adopted out, thereby avoiding the stigma of a bastard child in the family. Or an abortion could be arranged, again out of town. The girl would attempt to resume a normal life, despite the fact that practically everyone knew of her “predicament”, especially her classmates; after all, guys did like to brag about their conquests.

Somewhere down the line, things got turned around and now it appears that it's just fine and dandy if baby comes before either love or marriage. Of course, problems come right along with that change. In a one-parent house, the child suffers from the lack of two-parent guidance; one of the parents becomes a part-timer, regardless of the good intention to "be there" for her/him. As the child grows up and faces schoolmates, the inevitable questions arise about parents: “Where is your father/mother?”; “Why don’t you have a father/mother?”; “Why doesn’t your father/mother live with you?”; etc. Children can be cruel.