Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Marlene Dietrich

Good morning to you all, and this morning we feature this photograph of Marlene Dietrich. She was an actress famous for her glamor and good looks. She was the highest paid actress of the early 1900's and was performing all the way to the 1970's.

OK, so I made a mistake yesterday. I listed the name as "Blankhead" instead of "Bankhead". I did not do it on purpose, but given it was a picture of the Speaker of the House, and an actress, it is understandable that some of you might have thought I was trying to be funny. Anyway, I apologize for the error. I am pretty confident I have Marlene's name spelled correctly.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Blankheads

Today's picture was taken in 1937, and shows Tallulah Blankhead, who was a famous actress of the day. She was in Washington DC for the opening of her new play, Reflected Glory. She is pictured with her parents. Her father, William B. Blankead was the speaker of the house in the US House of Representatives.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Jean Harlow

Welcome to Actresses of the Early Days of the Silver Screen week on OPOD. Today we have a picture of Jean Harlow. It was taken on Capitol Hill, and she is pictured with Senator Robert Reynolds. I find it interesting how much things have changed since this picture was taken. It is obvious they are just posing the shot for the cameras; however, today I think most politicians would have the good sense to not "paw" on a woman like this in front of the cameras. Second, notice that he is smoking a cigarette indoors, which is pretty much not seen today. The third thing, note how Ms. Harlow is wearing a fur coat . . . definitely a No No today.

Domestic Update:

OK, I finished my first week of the school year. I must say this is the finest group of students I have ever had. They are all polite, serious, and eager to learn. I am really looking forward to the electronics class. The school let me get really nice electronics lab equipment, so I will be able to have practical hands on projects to supplement the theoretical stuff. About half the students in this class are very smart, and are wanting to become electrical or mechanical engineers. The other half are more hands on learners, and are interested in attending a junior college to become either electricians, electronics technologists, or Certified Wind Turbine Technologists. All the students are working very hard, and view the material as something they really want to know. The hard thing about teaching the class is that it requires very strong math skills, and most of the students coming into the class are deficient in their math skills. In order to solve real problems in Electronics, you can not use Real numbers, the problems must be solved using imaginary and complex numbers. The students have almost no expertise in imaginary numbers. So, I have found that I have to teach them the math as we go through the class. What I have found is that the students LEARN the math much better in a class like this, than they do in a math class. They see that they have a problem to solve in a circuit, and in order to solve it they need a new math skill. The circuits put the math into the context of being relevant in the real world.

I have not talked about the greenhouse in a while. The electrician has been working on the wiring on the inside of the greenhouse. He is about done, so hopefully I can get the plumbers back out next week. Then we should pretty much be wrapped up, and I can start getting things planted.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Game On!

Today is contest day . . . I post the picture, you figure out who it is. Today, you must identify the two women in the picture. May the best Sleuth Win!

Friday, August 27, 2010

Andrew Carnegie

Today's picture was taken in 1906, and it shows a group photo with Andrew Carnegie, who is the small man seated in the front row. Andrew Carnegie was one of the richest men of all time. Glancing at the photo, do you recognize anyone else in the picture?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Joseph Kennedy

Today's picture was taken in 1939, and it shows Joseph Kennedy. Certainly there has been a lot of disaster in that family.  

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Howard Hughes

This picture was taken in 1938, and shows a young Howard Hughes. Howard Hughes made much of his fortune in the aerospace industry. In the 60's and 70's he was one of the richest men in the world. He did have some mental disorders that got progressively worse as he got older, and he was in pretty bad shape by the time he died.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

JP Morgan

Today's picture features Mr. JP Morgan, one of the richest men of the early 1900's. He was a banker who made his fortune in high finance, arranging corporate mergers and take overs. In this photo, he appears to be whacking someone with his cane.

Monday, August 23, 2010


Today's picture shows the Rockefellers, John D., and John D. Jr. The picture was taken in 1915. At the time, this was one of the richest families in the world.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Alfred Vanderbilt

Welcome to Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous Week on OPOD. This week we will be looking at pictures of the uber-rich, and perhaps trying to figure out if they are really happier than the rest of us. Today's picture is of Alfred Vanderbilt. The picture was taken in 1907. Alfred was an avid sportsman. He died in 1915, with the sinking of the Lusitania.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mystery Contest

It is Saturday, and that means it is Mystery Person Contest Day. Ready, Set, Go!

Friday, August 20, 2010

South Pole

We wrap of our series of pictures today on the ill-fated Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole. This photo shows the group of five men that did make it to the South Pole. As we learned this week, all of them died on the return journey. 

I also include a picture of Herbert G. Ponting, the photographer for the expedition. He was not part of the five men who made the final leg of the journey to the South Pole, and I believe he lived through the expedition, and made it home safely. Given that the men did have a picture taken at the South Pole, I have to assume that they hauled his camera in to take the picture above. My assumption is that when the camp of the perished men above was found, they recovered the camera, and hence we have the picture.

I would like to welcome all of our new readers today. Yesterday The New Yorker had a nice description of our OPOD site, and we got a lot of new visitors. Hope you all will check back in often. You can see the little article in the New Yorker Here.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Robert F. Scott

Today we feature of picture of Robert F. Scott, captain of the ill fated Terra Nova expedition to the South Pole. As we have seen this week, the party did make it to the South Pole, but all five died on the return journey. Scott and two other died only 11 miles from the supply depot and camp they were desperately trying  to reach. In researching the expedition, it appears it was somewhat poorly planned, and they left little margin for error. 

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Dr Edward Wilson

Good Wednesday Morning to you! Today, we feature this picture of Dr. Edward Wilson, another member of the Terra Nova Antarctic Expedition. Dr. Wilson was one of the five members of the expedition to make the final trek to the South Pole. We have explained already that both Oates and Evans died on the return journey from the pole, leaving three members of the party, one of which was Wilson, trying to safely reach their supply depot. The reaming three were hampered by the fact that they were short of supplies, had fallen behind because of the issues with the two that had already died, and then they hit very bad weather. On March 20, a blizzard prevented them from making any more progress. We learn these details from Captain Scott's diary. His last diary entry was on March 29. It is presumed that the remaining three, including Wilson, died at about this time. They were about 11 miles from the supply depot they were trying to reach.

Domestic Update:
Most of you are aware that my long time Nemesis, the Evil Nate Maas has started his own blog. This desperate individual has now reduced himself to spewing libelous slander at me at that corrupt site, which he calls a blog. He twists facts around to make me look like some sort of paranoid, insecure man. I am officially calling for a world-wide boycott of his site, www.natemaas.com. I notice some of you have already gone over to the dark side, and are actually participating in this attempt to destroy me. Please notice that he started this nonsense right as I had to go back to school, knowing I would be distracted from properly responding. Please realize that my call for a boycott is simply my opening salvo. There will be more, oh yes, there will be more, and he will Rue the Day he challenged me. Oh yes, he will Rue the Day. Game on!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Captain Oates

Today's picture shows Captain Lawrence Edward Grace Oates, of the Terra Nova Antarctic Expedition. He was chosen for the mission because of his financial support for the effort, and his expertise with horses. He was at odds with Captain Scott for most of the expedition, and felt the horses provided for the mission were not suitable. Scott felt Oates was a permanent pessimist. Oates was one of the five men on the expedition to make the last leg of the trek, to the South Pole. 

During the return march from the Pole, Oates grew weak, suffering from frostbite. He was having difficulty keeping pace with the party, yet they refused to leave him behind. He realized that his weakened condition, and inability to maintain the required pace was endangering the entire party. Realizing the predicament, on March 16 he told his companions that "I am just going outside and may be some time". Without even putting his shoes on, he walked out into a blizzard, sacrificing himself for the sake of the remainder of the party.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Edgar Evans

Good Monday Morning to you all. We continue to look at explorers, and in particular, pictures of the 1910 antarctic expedition on the Terra Nova. Today's picture shows Edgar Evans, a Petty Officer on the Expedition. Evans died on the expedition. He had an accident as they were approaching the pole, and cut his hand. He suffered frostbite, and started having difficulty keeping up with the party. He then suffered a head injury. His condition got worse, and he collapsed. The exploration party was forced to leave him behind, as they needed to reach the next supply depot. They came back for him and carried him out, but he died on February 16, 1912.

Well, I had a great summer, but it is back to work this morning. I had a lot of fun on the blog this summer, and hope you did too. I will be sure and get up early, and hope to keep things interesting as I get back into the swing of work.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Terra Nova

We kicked off Explorers Week yesterday with the photograph of Robert Scott. The picture was was taken on the British Antarctic Expedition which ran from 1910 to 1913. Today, we show another picture from that expedition. It shows their ship, the Terra Nova, stuck in the ice near Antarctica. The picture was taken sometime in 1910 or 1911. This expedition was the second to reach the South Pole. Five members of the expedition lost their lives. I find it interesting that the photograph almost looks like an artists drawing. It almost looks too dramatic to be real, but yes, it is a real photograph.

Domestic Update:
Well, we had some great fun yesterday with the Mystery Contest, notwithstanding the Evil Interloper who launched a competing contest, with several of you being sucked in. Note that I do not blame you. There are very powerful forces at play here, and I understand how you could get sucked in. All is forgiven.

Today is the last day of my summer break, and I feel like I have had a very productive summer. I completed the construction of the greenhouse, and now there are just a few finishing touches that hopefully will get done in the next week, if the plumbers and electrician decide to show up. Also, I made lots of progress on the landscaping around the house. As I have mentioned, we built our house on very rough terrain . . . lots of rocks, cactus, brush, and mesquite. Little by little this summer, we cleared the circle in front of the house where I can mow it now. Once you can mow an area, it starts killing the weeds, and the buffalo grass takes over. Also, in the back, we were able to clear the area almost half way to the fence. Of course, it would have been much easier with a tractor, but perhaps the excellent progress that was made with nothing but a grubbing hoe and a wheel barrow will help build the case for a tractor.

I have to say that I am really looking forward to school starting. They have me teaching some new classes, and they should be interesting. Last year many of the students indicated to the administration that they did not feel that they were being properly prepared for college. Perhaps because of some of the horror stories coming back to them from first year college friends. In response to their concerns, the school asked me to come up with a College Preparation class. In the class I will be teaching basic skills that many kids don't have these days . . . How to keep an organized notebook, how to take notes, how to study for exams, how to be effective in scholarship applications, time management, and other organizational skills. Last year, the students actually helped prepare the syllabus for the class. This class will also cover ACT/SAT preparation, where we will do lots of work in improving standardized test scores. The students are excited about the class, because it was their idea.

I will still be teaching Business Computing, Algebra II, and WEB design. In addition, they will be expanding the engineering classes from 4 to 6. Presently, they have me teaching Fundamentals of Wind Turbine Technology, Pneumatics, DC Circuit Design, and AC Circuit Design. They will expand this to include Semiconductor Physics and Digital Circuits. The engineering classes build on each other, so I am not teaching them all at the same time. Some are taught in the first semester, and some in the second semester. If the students go to a junior college, these classes will count for college credit. If they go to a 4-year university, they will not count for college credit, but if they go into engineering, they will go in having seen the material before, and will have the math background needed to succeed in the university classes.

So, it has been a fun and productive summer, and I pretty much met all my goals for the summer. Now I am gearing up for school, and hope it turns out to be a productive and rewarding year.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Contest Day!

OK, sorry for the delay, but the internet tower went out last night, and I just now got my connection back. Let the Games Begin!

Friday, August 13, 2010


Today's picture shows a ship docked in Brooklyn New York. The picture was taken in the late 1800's. It shows lots of detail of the city and people. You can see the Brooklyn Bridge in the background.

I enjoyed all the interesting comments yesterday. Justin apparently is an internet detective and did some research on me . . . to the point of finding my house on Google Earth. From the Satellite image, he noted that I had a security fence, and a gated entrance, and was curious why that was necessary. OK, I will explain. When we were first building the house, we planted a lot of trees. Well, the deer came in and scraped the trees and killed them all. When deer are losing the velvet on their antlers, which happens every year, I guess it itches, and they find trees to scrape their antlers on. This kills the trees. In addition, the deer were eating all our other landscaping. So, we realized that if we were ever to have any luck growing things, we would need to keep the deer out. The second issue is that we wanted to have chickens and peacocks. There are a lot of varmints like raccoons, fox, skunks, and bobcats in the area, so we needed to keep them out as well. The third reason was that I was concerned that being a school teacher, students sometimes will play pranks on teachers with petty vandalism. So, the combination of these issues led to get a security fence built. It is an 8 foot, no-climb fence, with barbed wire on the top. This keeps both the deer and the varmints out. In order to make it easy to get in and out, the gate is automatic, and activated by a little remote control in our cars. It also has a combination keypad on the outside. So, the real reason for the system is to protect the landscaping, and Chickie Town.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Good Thursday morning to you all. Sailing Ship week continues here at OPOD with this picture taken in Algiers, Algeria. The picture was taken in 1899, and shows people disembarking from a ship. If you click on the picture, you can see the detail better. I find it interesting to look at the details of the clothing.

Wow, is it just me or did summer fly by this year. It is hard to believe that I have to go back to work on Monday. Actually, with all the hard work on the greenhouse this summer, going back to a real job is going to be a rest for me. I love summer, but I must admit that this year I am looking forward to the cool weather of fall.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hamburg Germany

Good Wednesday Morning to you all. Today, we feature a photograph showing ships in port in Hamburg, Germany. The photograph was taken in the late 1800's. It is a photochrom print, which was a very early version of color photography. 

I am enjoying these old sailing ships this week, and hope you are too. I notice that yesterday the Evil Nate Maas was able to identify the ship in the picture. I found it interesting that people found this so incredible, that many are beginning to question whether Nate is a real person, or a myth I created to keep the blog more interesting. People felt that NO ONE would be able to identify a random ship from a hundred years ago. It is interesting that it was Nate who proposed on Sunday that I was some sort of Evil Genius. Perhaps it was this very post that made people begin to think that I would create the Legend of the Evil Nate Maas. Now Nate will have to perform even more  magnificent feats in order to prove that he exists. Of course, as he does this, people will just think that my scheme is even more diabolical in producing such a mythical figure. So, the bottom line is I am effectively "Erasing" the Evil Nate Maas from existence. Ha ha ha, my little plan is working marvelously. Be sure to vote in this week's poll.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Sailing Ship

Today's picture was taken in 1902, and shows a magnificent sailing ship. I wish I had more info on the ship, but unfortunately I don't.

Monday, August 9, 2010

The Hartford

Today's picture is of the Hartford, which was Admiral David Farragut's flagship in the Civil War. Farragut was one of the most distinguished naval officers in the Civil War. During the Battle of Mobile Bay, he was leading union ships into confederate waters, which were heavily mined. The crew was becoming timid because of all the mines (called torpedoes at this time). He then issued his famous command, "Damn the Torpedoes, full speed ahead".

I am sure you read Nate's insolence in yesterday's comment. I am thinking about throwing down the gantlet on him. Since dueling is no longer practiced, I will have to think of a suitable challenge before throwing it down. I will no longer tolerate his insolence, and his constant attempts to undermine my authority on this blog. I considered issuing a one day picture embargo, but felt that would be unfair to everyone else. Rest assured, this week I will device a suitable challenge and end this insanity once and for all.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

HMS Victory

Welcome to Old Sailing Ships week here at OPOD. We start with this photochrom photograph of the warship HMS Victory. The Victory was Lord Nelson's flagship, and is most remembered for its role in the 1805 battle of Trafalgar, where the British Royal Navy took on the combined navies of France and Spain. This picture was taken around 1900. The ship is still part of the British Navy, and is sort of a floating museum.

Domestic Update:

At our last domestic update, I had informed you that I was pretty much stuck on getting any more of the Plexiglas covering on the greenhouse. This was because I got to the point that I could not reach the areas necessary to fasten the Plexiglas to the greenhouse. I had indicated that I would rent a sky-track this weekend, to let me get the rest of the pieces on. Well, on Friday I went to the rental place to rent the sky-track. As I am filling out the paperwork, the guy casually asked me what I was going to do with it. I told him that we would be tying a piece of plywood to the forks, and then have a guy lay on the plywood as we elevated him above a construction site so he could lean over the edge and connect Plexiglas to a greenhouse. Then the guy said he could not rent me the sky-track, as it was not intended to be used to position people.

(Note to Self: When renting construction equipment, never tell them what you are really going to use if for)

After some arguing, the guy said he would rent me a Z-boom, as it is intended for positioning people, but No Sky-Track For Me. Well, I did not have any other options, so I told him I would take the Z-boom.

Well, Friday afternoon comes around and they deliver this Bad Boy to my house.

If you have never had the chance to experience a z-boom, I would describe it this way. It is just like a roller coaster, only it has a steering wheel. Well, Larry, the rental delivery guy gets it unloaded at my house. I was sort of expecting they would make me sit through a 30 minute training video, followed by a 45 minute safety video, followed by a recap of the rules and do's and don'ts, but no, Larry just unloads it and has me sign a receipt for delivery. I was expecting him to give me all these rules, like "No Bungee Jumping form the Z-boom", or "No Racing the Z-Boom" or "No Popping Wheelies in the Z-Boom", but no, all he wanted was for me to sign for receipt of delivery. I signed the paperwork, and he did give me a 30 second overview of the 67 control levers, joysticks, switches, and toggles on the control panel. There was one knob on the control panel. On one side was a little picture of a turtle, and on the other side was a picture of a rabbit. He suggested that I leave the knob on the turtle setting.

So Larry drives off, and I can hardly wait to fire that baby up. So, I turn that little knob over to the "rabbit" setting, and start the engine. About this time my daughter comes out, and starts telling me to wait till someone who knows what they are doing comes and shows me how to run it. I told her the guy that delivered it had already trained me, and I start lifting myself up by extending the booms. In about 30 seconds I am 50 feet in the air, and I have not even fully unfolded the lower arms. I will admit that at this point I was getting a little nervous about things, because the controls were very complicated.

You can see in this picture my daughter pleading with me to come down, apparently concerned about the prospect of an early inheritance. Well, I decide to impress her with my Z-boom skill, so do a 360 degree maneuver through the sky. I took pictures all the way around.

In about 10 seconds I had myself over Chickie Town, and took this aerial photo of the area.

I continue on around and then got this picture of the front yard.

After impressing my daughter with my aerobatic skill, I then decide I should drive the Z-boom on over to the construction site. No need to bring myself down, the Z-boom lets you drive it while you are way up there in the air. So, I start driving on over to the greenhouse.

Well, things were going pretty smoothly, but then I hit a little bit of a snag. Note in the picture above the trench between me and the greenhouse. This is the trench that brings the electric line to the greenhouse. The plumbers had not covered this trench up yet. I was pretty sure that I could make it over the trench, especially if I got a good running start at it. Well, at this point my daughter is livid, and is yelling at me to come down. I tell her I can make it over the trench. Then in a move reminiscent of the famous Tiananmen Square incident where the guy stood in front of the Chinese Tank, my daughter goes out and lays down in front of the Z-boom, between me and the trench. Well, from 50 foot up there, I start trying to get her to get out of my way so I can jump the trench. This goes on for about 5 minutes, and she is not willing to budge. Seeing she sort of left me with no options, I agree to come down, and not move to the construction site until the plumbers fill the ditch in. So, I put my attention back on the control panel. I select one of the 17 down levers, and press it to bring myself down. Only problem is that when I pressed the lever, nothing happened. No problem I thought, as perhaps you need to bring the boom down in a specific order, so I choose another switch and try it.  Nothing. I proceed to try every lever, knob, and joystick on the control panel, and none of them respond. So, I am sort of stuck there 50 feet in the air. I then retry all the them without luck. I then press the big red button, and the thing turns off. I am getting a little nervous at this point, as I am not sure it will keep you suspended with the motor off, and sort of had a flash back to that time I was on the see-saw and the other kid hopped off and I cam crashing to the ground. Well, it appeared to be holding me steady up there, but I decide I better turn the motor back on. I start switching switches and turning knobs, but in the excitement, I had sort of forgotten some of my training, and could not get the thing started again. My daughter is still down there, and she is really mad. I yell down at her, "Go in and google 'how to start a z-boom'". She hears me and goes in the house. About 15 minutes later she comes back with a piece of paper, and yells up to me, "Before starting, make sure propeller is fully submersed in salt water". Well, I guess she had not heard me correctly, and had come back with instructions on how to start a Sea-Boom. 

So, I take a few minutes, and try to compose myself. I pull the big red button back up, I wait for the gloplug light to go off, and then I press the operator switch with my toe, and then I hit the start button. Sure enough, the thing fires right up. I then press one of the down levers, and the thing starts bringing me down. I get back on the ground, and decide I better go in and pour myself a tall glass of ice tea.

OK, I finally figured out how I got stuck up there. Before any of the controls will work, you have to put your foot in this little compartment and press a switch. However, if you leave your foot on the button for more than 30 seconds without operating a control, it assumes you have left your foot on the button by accident, or you have forgotten your foot is on it, so it deactivates the controls. To reactivate, you have to take your foot off it, and then put it back on, and then the controls will work. Information was not included in my 30 second training session.

I guess I have sort of gotten off track here, as the purpose of this domestic update was to fill you in on the greenhouse, so lets get back on topic here. So, Friday evening the plumbers come back and cover the ditch up and I am able to get the Z-boom over to the greenhouse. Then, I had made arrangements to get some help to finish the greenhouse plexiglas on Saturday. The Z-boom is pretty expensive, so I wanted to make sure I had help so I could get the job done over the weekend, and avoid another day's rental charge. I contacted the guy that built my house, but he said he was swamped for the next4 months. I told him that if he did not come help me, and I fell off a ladder, my blood would be on his hands. He has seen me on a ladder, and so he agreed he would come and help me for one day.

So when Frank and Steve get out there on Saturday, things actually go very smoothly. The plexiglas went on easily. Part of it was just having the extra sets of hands made it much easier. Also, I learned a lot on putting the earlier pieces on, and had sort of figured out what works and what does not work. Then, of course, the Z-boom made a big difference. I apologize that my underwear is is showing just a little in the picture above. To be honest with you, I have seen a lot worse on the construction site, particularly on days the plumbers are there.

Now, remember how they would not rent me the sky-track because we were going to put a person on it? Look at this picture at how we had to get the top on.

Notice with the Z-boom, Steve had to crawl out of the cage to reach the plexiglas. He would then curl his legs around the lower rail, and sort of hang upside down, like you used to do on monkey bars, in order to reach the plexiglas. Now I ask you, would it have not been simpler and safer if they would have just rented us the skytrack?

Anyway, to make a long story short, the bottom line is that we got all the plexiglas on yesterday, and it all turned out well. Steve and Frank then helped me with various other tasks. The greenhouse structure is pretty much finished, and now I need to get the finishing work done on the electrical and plumbing. Hopefully I will get things wrapped up this week.

I feel this stunning success has moved me ever closer to my goal of becoming a Gentleman Farmer.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Contest Day!

It is Saturday, and it is the day that you have to figure out who the mystery person is. Ready, Set, Go!!!!!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Coal Mine

Today's picture is from 1911, and shows a group of miners deep in a coal mine. Pictured is the cage which takes them in and out of the mine. Notice that the boy on the right in the cage appears to be pretty young. The picture is from the Pennsylvania Coal Company. The mine is shaft #6, near South Pittston, Pennsylvania.

Lots of discussion yesterday on the blog about number of comments, vs. number of visitors. I do monitor the number of visitors and will share some numbers with you. OPOD typically gets between 2,500 and 6,000 page views a day. There are more visitors during the school year, and less in the summer. Most of the visits are by passers by, who end up here from google image searches . . . people looking for some specific picture of something. About 1000 or so people either subscribe to the blog, or "follow" it. There are a couple hundred who actively read it daily, and contribute comments. So, those are the numbers. I have a number of other web sites, and overall get a couple hundred thousand page views a day. I enjoy making WEB sites, so have sites on different topics . . . everything from the Civil War to how to make Hot Tamales.

PICTURE EMBARGO THREAT LEVEL - Green - No imminent threat of picture embargo

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Coal Miner's Son

Good Thursday morning to you all. Is it just me, or did Summer fly by pretty fast this year. It is hard to believe that school will be starting soon. I hope you all have had an enjoyable summer, and have had some fun looking at the old pictures here. Today's picture was taken in 1940, and shows a Coal Miner's Son. The picture was taken in Granger Homesteads, Iowa.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Kempton, West Virginia

This picture was taken in 1939, and shows Kempton, West Virginia. Kempton was a coal mining town. The car in the foreground is a Model T Ford. 

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Company Store

This picture was taken in 1938, and shows the Company Store in the coal mining town of Caples, West Virginia. Company stores extended credit to workers in the mine. The stores typically charged exorbitant prices. Typically it cost more to shop at the Company Store than what the miners earned. This created a form of indentured servitude, in that at any given time, the miners typically owed money to the story.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Coal Town

Today's picture shows Osage, West Virginia, a coal town. The picture was taken in 1938, and shows a train pulling a load of coal through the center of town. This is a great picture of the center of town.

Domestic Update:

It was 107 here yesterday, so progress was a little slow on the greenhouse. We worked on some of the odds and ends things, and got the wet wall pretty much finished. I went out to mow the back yard at about dusk, and it was still 102. Weatherman calls for similar hot weather for the next 5 days.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Coal Miner

Welcome to Coal Miner week here at OPOD. Todays picture shows a coal miner at the end of the day's work. The picture was taken in 1942, at the Montour number 4 mine of the Pittsburgh Coal Company. There is something truly "American" about this picture. I love the way the guy manages a big smile after a hard day of work.

Domestic Update:

I feel that excellent progress was made on project Hydroponic Greenhouse last week. I believe I am getting ever closer to my goal of becoming a gentleman farmer. Most of this week was spent working on the plexiglass covering.

This has turned out to be a very hard part of the project. In fact, my mom has a theory that the greenhouse was designed by Nazi's, probably SS agents, intent on seeking revenge for the allied victory in World War II. You can see that the sheets of plexiglass are very large, and with any breeze at all, the sheets act as large sails, and make it almost impossible to get them into position.

The second problem is that as more sheets go on, it starts getting harder and harder to reach the locations where the aluminum rails that hold the plexiglass in place have to be screwed in. The plexiglass will not support your weight, and you can not lean a ladder on the plexiglass, so it quickly becomes impossible to reach the locations you need to put the screws. We are to the point that we have both ends finished, and some of the large pieces that go over the side and top. At this point, there is no way to add more of the large side sheets without some better way to get it on. I finally decided that the only way to get the rest on is to rent a sky track, which can lift a person up, and position them properly over the work area. I have made arrangements with a rental agency to bring a skylift out later this week. This should allow completion of the plexiglass cover, with a little luck.

While we are waiting on the Sky Track, I will go ahead and finish up much of the odds-and-ends work on the inside. You can see above we have the front door in, and the ventilation fan, which is next to the front door. On the other side, I still need to finish the Wet Wall. The Wet Wall is a large panel of pads that water runs through. The fan on the front pulls air out of the greenhouse, which pulls air into the greenhouse on the opposite side, through the Wet Wall. The Wet Wall cools the air, and this keeps the inside of the greenhouse cool.

We also got all the trenches dug this week. If you remember last week, we brought out a trenching tractor. The rock we live on broke the back end off the tractor after about five minutes. This time we rented a rock saw. The rock saw is slow, but makes easy work of slicing through the rock, and making nice neat, deep trenches. There are lots of trenches needed, as we have to run Natural Gas, Electricity, and Water to the greenhouse.

While we had the rock saw, I went ahead and put trenches out to the Chicken Coop, and Peacock palace, so I can have a water outlet closer to where I need to water the chickies and peacocks. Also, we will have electricity in the chicken coop. This way, I can turn on a heat lamp on really cold nights. The other reason to have electricity in the chicken coop is that during winter, egg production goes down because the days are short. If you turn a light on in the morning before the sun comes up, egg production should remain at peak levels.

Also this week we had the remainder of the equipment delivered to allow completion of the greenshouse. Above you can see the Polaris Hot Water Heater being delivered. The hot water heater will provide the heating element for the radiant floor heating in the greenhouse. I am hopeful that the plumbers will be able to complete the radiant system this week, as we wait on the Sky Track to be delivered.

So, this has turned out to be a lot bigger project than I had anticipated when I started. However, I feel that if I successfully complete this this summer, I will be very close to achieving my goal of becoming a Gentleman Farmer.