MileHiCon52 – Virtual – A Success!

MileHiCon52 (Logo © 2020, MileHiCon. Used with permission.)

MileHiCon52 (Logo © 2020, MileHiCon. Used with permission.)

The first-ever virtual MileHiCon52 (MHC52) successfully debuted this past weekend!

I’ve heard from my wife and others about how poorly other virtual “gatherings” have gone off this year, but as I mentioned to others, MHC52 is packed with technological experts and they were eminently skilled in what they do. As one said in a post-conference “Orchids and Onions” session, to regroup and take stock, they were all overachievers.

And they were!

There were minor issues, and I don’t know all of them, but the major issue was the MHC52 site’s server crashing Friday. That, however, was not a MHC52 issue…it was the server company’s issue. For some reason, the server crashed, and those I listened in on didn’t seem to know or pass on why it did. But it did and was down all day.

Luckily, they had Discord in place, as well as all the live-streaming panels being fed into Twitch.

Every one of the tech folks involved in this humongous project were called upon to work their magic to keep things going, and they ALL performed stellarly. I was supremely impressed with everything, and the more I found out about what was going on in the background, the more impressed I became! All of the MHC staff (all volunteers) went above and beyond.

But it’s just not the staff, but all the attendees (those who came to have fun at the con) and participants (those who participated in the con’s panels and events for the attendees…but who also came to have fun) were terrific as well. As far as I know, no one made any stinks and all rolled with the punches. It was quite heartwarming to see that no one seemed to break down and “fly off at the handle.” Everyone wanted this to be successful, and when there were questions or concerns or issues, they all calmly contacted the MHC52 staff, and the staff quickly and calmly responded to their queries.

It felt so damned good to see people actually working TOGETHER.

#Together

THANK YOU to all of the MHC52 staff and attendees and participants! You were all impressive! I can’t say enough good about you all.

But one I really have to single out is Meg Ward, the MHC52 Programming Director. And I’m only singling her out because I had to directly interact with her early on, pummeling her with tons of questions. Unlike many of you, I was not previously familiar with Zoom prior to MHC52. I retired just as the Zoom use spiked. I’ve used other telecon systems, but not Zoom, so yeah, I…had issues. But I also had issues in other areas getting registered and even got confused as to what website was actually being used (there were two versions).

And “Discord“?! WTH was a “Discord?”

But in any event she was extremely patient and pointed me in the right direction for each of my concerns. Thank you—again!—Meg!

MileHiCon52 Details

The con itself was a blast…insofar as one can have fun in a virtual environment (i.e., staring at a compute screen all day) and not have that human contact. And, yes, it was brought up time and again how much the human contact was missed, everyone from attendees on up the MHC52 staff food chain brought it up. Virtual hugs had to do.

As I previously mentioned I was only in two sessions, a pre-recorded reading from ERO, Sunday premiere at 10 MT, and an Versions of Afterlife panel, Sunday, 2:30 – 3:30 MT. According to Meg, there were about 60 watching (some 47 – 57 or so viewers attended the virtual sessions) in on the five of us as we discussed our thoughts on an afterlife. That’s a pretty danged-good crowd! Our panel ran in degrees from one who [seemingly] didn’t believe in an afterlife to…well, me. Who does—and incorporates it heavily in my novels. Otherwise, I attended as many virtual sessions as possible, including a Kaffeeclatsch with John Stith, Sunday at 11:30 – 12:30 MT.

I caught the following virtual sessions:

  • Hour with Steve Resnic Tem
  • “Ethics and Art”
  • “Real Combat: Fantasy v. Real Fighting”
  • “Mars Exploration Update”
  • “Artistic References”
  • “Amazon/KDU, and Other Publishing Platforms”
  • “Was in “Aliens, But Make Them Believable” for a little while, then went to…
  • “SFF&H in Theater”
  • “My Favorite Writing Tools”
  • John Stith’s Kaffeeklatsch
  • “Editing For Yourself and Others”
  • Ed Bryant, Jr. Memorial Panel”—only for about 20 minutes, since my “Versions of Afterlife” Panel was coming up at 2:30
  • “Computers, AI, and (Deserved?) Paranoia”
  • “Orchids and Onions” Sessions with MHC Convention Committee

There is lots to say about each of the above panels, but it’d just be too long a post. We were told most of the panels will all be posted in a YouTube account soon. Here is the YouTube link for MHC52. The MHC staff might be done uploading all the content by the 28th or so.

But of note, I liked the concern about ethics in art…and how artists are trying to be ethical in how they create their art (release forms, being up front, honest, etc., in using people as subjects)…and how users of their art really need to understand that they should all not be “swiping” art off the Internet for free for their own use or blog posts if it’s not specifically stated as free-for-public use; that they can be prosecuted.

How would you like it if you created something, like a book or movie, and it was pirated and you were not compensated for your efforts, while criminals did make money of your efforts or others used your work without at least proper attribution? Well, even if you don’t care, it’s not right. Not ethical. Illegal, even.

Some of us are bothered by this, and there are laws about it. I also mentioned that people still have to be careful even if art is stated to be free, because last I read online, two or three years ago, thieves sometimes steal art, tag it as their own (of course using fake names), then sell it on legit sites and elsewhere! Then the end user acts in good faith, getting it, paying for it, but they can still be prosecuted, no matter if they claim ignorance.

Another panel I liked was the Mars update. It was neat seeing images taken the day before the panel! I tell ya, the Mars terrain looks a LOT like Earth in many places!

I’m also looking forward to the complete compendium to Ed Bryant’s work. I knew Ed, was in a critique group with him and John Stith. He was such a terrific guy. Very down-to-Earth. Intelligent. Funny. Excellent writer. We always spent some time chatting with each other when we ran into each other at cons.

Overall, MHC52 was an incredible success! It had been well executed, well managed, and well attended (over 400 folks were on the MHC52 site, if I heard correctly, which is about 1/3 of the norm, in-person attendance).

MileHiCon53?

As to next year’s MHC53, no decision has yet been made if it’ll be virtual or in-person. It’s just too soon to know. But there is definitely consideration being given to a hybrid version (partly virtual), at the very least.

Previous MileHiCon Posts

Posted in Fantasy, Fun, Leisure, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Space, Spooky, Technology, To Be Human, UFOs | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

HarpoonLand – An Indie Short Film

This short film (under 13 minutes) is from my brother, Greg Dorchak, who is (among other things) an indie film producer of Class Clown Pictures, and a friend of his, Nic Beery, of Beery Films.

In Greg’s words:

Below is a short film me and my buddy, Nic Beery, made together this summer. Nic and I worked at Busch Gardens way back in the day; we originally wrote this to be filmed at a real amusement park and were going to shoot it in March, when Covid shut us down. So we reworked it, I shot my piece in Austin, he shot the rest in NC.

HarpoonLand

Beery Films & Class Clown Pictures are proud to announce the global release their new short film, HarpoonLand.

Our story takes place during the summer of 2020, where we meet four friends that work at HarpoonLand — a local water park — as costume characters. During their weekly video chat, the three younger performers have fun yanking the chain of the much older performer, who has been at the theme park so long no one knows his real name — to them, he’s just, “Bert the Tuna.” But who will get the last laugh?

Take a much needed 13-minute escape and find out: Join HarpoonLand’s virtual backstage world and “Come Catch Sumthin’!” HarpoonLand is free to watch.

Backstory

In the summers of 1981 and 1982, Greg Dorchak (Bert the Tuna, co-writer) and Nic Beery (Director, co-writer) worked as costume characters at Busch Gardens, The Olde Country in Williamsburg, VA. Still friends — and both filmmakers — all these years later they mined their teenage summer adventures for fodder.

Also featuring other Busch Gardens alum Le Ann Etheridge and Michael Webb (Good time country band members), who wrote and performed the closing credit music, HarpoonLand, is full of love for those days of long ago.

Cast

Cast includes Jill Cromwell (Kelly), Jessica Flemming (Maya), and Presyce Baez (Pre). Cameo by Carmen Zayas (Jessie) and narration by Michael Luce (SiriusXM, WAGE-AM 1200 alum with Nic).

Additional music

Additional music by Joe Rogers (original member of the underground Teen punk band, The Zits, which is presently experiencing a vinyl resurgence and worldwide popularity), Grahame Davies (Nat Geo Channel, The Crowd Scene, who’s perfectly crafted albums span 30 tantalizing years), and Doug Largent (Who, with his Organ Trio, has conquered every posh performance space on the east coast).

HarpoonLand was made using COVID-19 safety protocols established by the Association for Independent Producers.

Filmed

Filmed in Hillsborough, NC and Austin, TX. Music produced in Atlanta, GA, Washington, DC, and Carrboro, NC.

Beyond our passion for indie filmmaking and staying creative during this time, our goal is simple, to bring a laugh to you, when we all could use one.

Enjoy HarpoonLand and feel free to share on all social media platforms.

Grab a Slim Jim, Twizzler, or Red Bull, dim the lights to movie-theater mode, and take a trip to HarpoonLand!

You’ll have a whale of a time!

Posted in Comedy, Memories, To Be Human | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

MileHiCon52 – Virtual – October 23-24-25, 2020

MileHiCon52 (Logo © 2020, MileHiCon. Used with permission.)

MileHiCon52 (Logo © 2020, MileHiCon. Used with permission.)

I am “attending” this year’s virtual version of MHC52 this weekend.

(Because of you-know-what.)

I’m only in two sessions, one live the other a recorded video of me reading from ERO.

I’ve forgotten how long I’ve been going to MHC (maybe since 2013?), but MHC has been around since 1969. I’ve had a blast every time I’ve gone. It’s a fun gathering of people who just wanna have fun getting lost in the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror (SF/F/H) world through discussions, movies, activities, and interaction with authors, artists, et cetera, including like-minded peoples. I’m sure we’re all gonna miss the interaction this year…as we all are with, well…everyfreakingthing.

Enter: Zoom!

This year it’s all put together virtually. Unlike most who already have an intimate relationship with Zoom, I do not; I retired the end of June, just as Zoom was hitting the fan. I’ve done limited video teleconferencing, mainly Facetime, so this will be new to me. So…pardon any flubs I may perform.

My MHC52 Schedule

Sunday, October 25, 10:00 – 11:00 MTAliens Pre-recorded panel

Gallifrey (Pre-recorded Panels)

This is a pre-recorded video of each of several of us reading from our works, where we’ve incorporated aliens. In my video, only the second video I’ve ever done of myself, I’m reading from several sections of ERO to show how I’ve incorporated “aliens” into my work. I’ve used them from MIB to, well, your “standard” extraterrestrials…but also in a way that I’ve not really seen done before, as an ET. I was inspired from my reading of the Seth Material and Whitley Strieber’s Communion books. I don’t give anything away in my readings.

Additional readers: Van Aaron Hughes, R. Gary Raham

Sunday, October 25, at 2:30 to 3:30 MTVersions of the Afterlife livestream

Neverland virtual room, Programming 1

I am in a live-streaming panel that will discuss versions of the afterlife we’ve seen done well and/or not so well (in our humble opinions), and how these views have been influenced by popular and shifting beliefs across time.

The streamed panels are to be in the three main, virtual rooms:

Moderator: Rose Beetum

Additional Panelists: Emily Mah, Jeanne Stein, and Steve Wahl

Links to Access Programs and Schedules:

MHC52 can be reached at this link.

The schedule and their descriptions may be reached at this link.

Previous MileHiCon Posts

 

Posted in Fantasy, Fun, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Spooky, To Be Human, UFOs, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Cell and Wireless Phone Harm—The Current Research

For some odd reason I cannot post the actual video, so you have to select the upper right menu icon, then select video #2, “The Truth about mobile phone and wireless radiation.” This is the subject of my post. It’s a video my brother, Chris, who’s in the health and wellness field, sent me about the dangers of cell phones. These are things I’d mentioned to many when cell phones first came out: that having that kind of radiation emitting from an object held close to the body for extended periods of time cannot be a good thing. Electromagnetic radiation does stuff to things…good (sunlight) and bad (nuclear explosions)…so, of course is stands to reason that holding up a radiation-emitting source next to your brain, your eyes, your gonads is going to…somehow…affect you.

And, yes, we are constantly bombarded by various forms of ambient radiation, not to mention all those danged satellites radiating stuff back down toward Earth…and yes, it is a matter of degree.

Well, here is that specific research that details those “degrees” and which has since been performed…in other countries. The UK, Brazil, and Australia, for example. Not the US…well, not in any meaningful way as these other countries, as in not yanking research funding when it shows damning results (e.g., Dr. Gandhi’s [sp?] research, DoD and Motorola sponsored, 1996, mentioned in this video). There is plenty of more recent squelched research you can find by even a cursory Internet search.

From "The truth about mobile phone and wireless radiation" Speech, Dr. Devra Davis

From “The truth about mobile phone and wireless radiation” Speech, Dr. Devra Davis

Cell phones and microwaves ovens use very similar frequencies…but microwaves use more power. For cell phones, they use pulsed wave signals that changes the power density that penetrates our bodies. One of the highest power emanations is when the phone rings. Other increases in power emanations are during the perpetual service “handshakes” that occur every time we leave one transmit/receive source for another. There are many variables involved, so I highly recommend y’all watch this video.

BTW, on the iPhone, do the following:

Select Settings > Legal & Regulatory > RF Exposure

Read what’s there. This informs about Specific Absorption Rates, or SAR. But it’s hidden waaay down in “Settings.”

So take them out of your bras and pockets and use air-tube headsets or speaker phones. Use Airplane Mode when not in use. Hold it farther away from you when using it. Just try to be more mindful of how and how often you are using these things.

Another reason for keeping my landline.

**********************

If you like what you read, please share—and join in my journey!

Thank You!

Posted in Technology, To Be Human | Tagged , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Friday Road Trip — October 2, 2020

Friday Road Trip, Oct 2, 2020

Friday Road Trip, Oct 2, 2020

This past Friday, my wife and I did a seven-hour road trip.Our mission was to do some leaf peeping. But before that, we wanted to make one, specific stop.

We headed out west of town on Highway 24. We wanted to stop at Lake George, because we wanted to get some shots of the “Bicycle Fence” up there. This fence is part of the Gilley Family Travel Port Campground and Mini Storage.

Why have a hundred or so bikes (and some heavy equipment) lashed to a fence out in the middle of nowhere? I dunno. But it’s quite the thing. And we’re talking about it, aren’t we?

So we pulled over and took some shots:

Here’s a shot of the length of the fence:

Lake George "Bike Fence" (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Lake George “Bike Fence” (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Here’s one of a metal monster we did out best to stay away from, even though something hadn’t nearly been so lucky as us:

Lake George "Bike Fence" Monster (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Lake George “Bike Fence” Monster (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Here are some images of the surrounding Lake George area, looking west. The “Bike Fence” is off to the left in the second image down.

Lake George, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Lake George, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Lake George, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Lake George, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Lake George is about an hour away, depending on how fast one drives and how much traffic one encounters. This is a road where drivers get crazy with speed and passing. In fact the whole length of Hwy 24 from Colorado Springs to Breckenridge or Buena Vista is like that. No one knows how to go less than 70 mph. But who can blame them: it’s wide open.

After Lake George, we went up to Wilkerson Pass (9,502 ft), which is just above South Park, but the Wilkerson Pass Rest Area was already closed off for the season. So we headed a little farther up and over the pass and down Highway 24 and turned off into a large pull-out facing South Park. We hung out here for a spell, just enjoying the view:

Wilkerson Pass, Colorado. (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Wilkerson Pass, Colorado. (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Wilkerson Pass, Colorado. (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Wilkerson Pass, Colorado. (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Wilkerson Pass, Colorado. (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Wilkerson Pass, Colorado. (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Wilkerson Pass, Colorado. (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Wilkerson Pass, Colorado. (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Wilkerson Pass, Colorado. (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Wilkerson Pass, Colorado. (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

South Park, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

South Park, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

South Park, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

South Park, Colorado(© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Wilkerson Pass, Colorado. (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Wilkerson Pass, Colorado. (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Wilkerson Pass, Colorado. (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Wilkerson Pass, Colorado. (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

South Park, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

South Park, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

South Park, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

South Park, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

After Wilkerson Pass we continued on Hwy 24 through Hartsel and on to Buena Vista, where we revisited some sites we used to regularly visit, like a Drive-in theater and a hot springs. Some of the trees were starting to show, while others looked spent. As we had lunch, we realized how much time we used to spend up here:

Buena Vista, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Buena Vista, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Buena Vista, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Buena Vista, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Buena Vista, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Buena Vista, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Buena Vista, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Buena Vista, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

After lunch we turned around and head on down to Salida, on Hwy 291. We so rarely go to Salida. Then once we drove through Salida, we connected to Highway 50 and drove along the Arkansas River for many miles, up to The Royal Gorge, which spans 1,053 feet above and across the Arkansas River. We’ve been to and across the Royal Gorge bridge many times over the years, the most recent of which was last October, when we took my 80-year-old mom there.

As we drove through the tiny towns of Howard, Coaldale, Cotopaxi, and Texas Creek, we pulled over a couple of times to take some pictures. I love rock formations, am fascinated by their patterns, so tried to take some shots that showed the upheaval patterns:

Highway 50 Alongside The Arkansas River, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Highway 50 Alongside The Arkansas River, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Highway 50 Alongside The Arkansas River, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Highway 50 Alongside The Arkansas River, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Highway 50 Alongside The Arkansas River, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Highway 50 Alongside The Arkansas River, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Highway 50 Alongside The Arkansas River, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Highway 50 Alongside The Arkansas River, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Highway 50 Alongside The Arkansas River, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Highway 50 Alongside The Arkansas River, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Highway 50 Alongside The Arkansas River, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Highway 50 Alongside The Arkansas River, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

We drove through Canon City, then on to Penrose, where we left Hwy 50 for Colorado Route 115, to Colorado Springs. In Penrose, we stopped off at one of our favorite stands. While sitting there, I was quite taken by the sun hitting a bird bath just behind me:

Coffee Shop in Penrose, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Coffee Shop in Penrose, Colorado (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Along the way, we also caught some turning leaves up close:

Rest Area Off Highway 50, Along The Arkansas River (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Rest Area Off Highway 50, Along The Arkansas River (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Rest Area Off Highway 50, Along The Arkansas River (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

Rest Area Off Highway 50, Along The Arkansas River (© F. P. Dorchak 2020)

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The Hazy Days

Living here in Colorado, we don’t really get many humid hazy days, and now we’re getting smoke from all the fires. And some good…lengthy…lazy breezes tossing along the treetops. So it’s hard to not think about my time along the California coasts. Then I’ll be driving around and The Red Hot Chili Peppers’ll be playing. Or Van Halen. But lately, almost all the time I’m hearing the Chili Peppers.

It really messes with your head.

Makes it hard to not think I’m back in California. I’m constantly double-checking.

I’ve spent a fair amount of time in California many years ago, initially in the 80s, in the Air Force for some OJT, then later, in the early to mid 2000s for the job. I used to visit one of my brothers in Northern California and some friends in Aptos. And I drove around a lot on my own. Even while staying in Milpitas or San Jose, especially going to the gym at oh-dark-thirty, it was cool to see so much fog all over the place—at streetlight height. All the windows and the top open in the car I’m driving.

Soaking in the atmosphere…the breezes…the scents…the Zen of California, coastal and otherwise. I can truly see why so many people love[d] California, especially in the 80’s.

So, sitting out on the back deck, driving through the west side of town, or walking/hiking through Garden of the Gods…it…just…gets to me.

Messes with my head.

And I feel like I’m back in California.

Posted in Memories, Metaphysical, Nature, To Be Human | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Have I Found My Home—“New Weird”?

Do The Dead Dream? New Weird Fiction.

Do The Dead Dream? New Weird Fiction.

In working my Mountain of Authors video, I, once again, searched for a defining genre of my work…and think I may have found it!

New Weird.

Yes, this seems to be the most descriptive—and coolest!—of definitions I have yet found!

Though proper descriptions of this genre seem to battle each other, one of the more-consistent definitions that I found was this:

People buy New Weird because they want cutting edge speculative fiction with a literary slant. It’s kind of like slipstream with a side of weirdness.

THIS describes me—I mean my work. My writing. Except I don’t consider myself at all any kind of “slipstream,” the rest of the definition seems to fit.

I write Twilight Zone-like weirdness, Black Mirror-like craziness. I frequently mix genres, including:

  • Romance (I have been called “ghoulishly romantic”)
  • Supernatural
  • Speculative
  • Historical
  • Science fiction
  • Fantasy
  • Paranormal
  • Metaphysical (aka “visionary”)

Yes, this seems to best define my work. I try to write with a literary slant. I do, as some definitions say, “break down the barriers between fantasy, science fiction, and supernatural horror.”

Another article, from 2017, has this to say about New Weird:

The New Weird produces mostly urban fantasy with a moral point and, at its best, it combines the virtues of visionary fiction and horror fiction, political satire, literary fiction and even historical fiction.”

Yes, this really seems to quantify my work. I do all those things to one degree or another. So, unless a literary professional can definitively say that is NOT what I”m writing….

And I simply LOVE the title: New Weird!

So, there you have it, agents, editors, publishers, and book stores: F. P Dorchak writes New Weird.

Posted in Books, Fantasy, Metaphysical, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Short Story, Spooky, To Be Human, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

New USS Thresher (SSN 593) Memorial – Potsdam, New York

Steven George Cayey, TM2 (SS) Navy Bell (Bell Plaque and Woodwork by Frank P. Dorchak, Jr.)

Steven George Cayey, TM2 (SS) Navy Bell (Bell Plaque and Woodwork by Frank P. Dorchak, Jr.)

My dad, Frank P. Dorchak, Jr., was a Radioman First Class in submarines (“RM1 (SS)”). He served aboard multiple boats (subs are also called “boats”), but on one occasion, had been assigned to the USS Thresher (SSN 593), which was lost at sea in April 1963. He was supposed to have been on that boat: Lieutenant Commander Pat M. Garner, the Thresher‘s Executive Officer, had talked to my dad, told him he was losing a radioman in six months and asked him if he’d like to come on over. My dad said heck, yes, but, long story short, when Dad received his actual orders, they were for another boat, not the Thresher (he never did find out why that happened, but a crusty Chief Petty Officer at the Bureau of Personnel told him that you go where the Navy sends you!). This is why the Thresher holds a special place for him. And it is for this reason… and that Diane Cayey Anderson had contacted my dad…that he became involved in a memorial for Steven George Cayey, Torpedoman’s Mate, Second Class (“TM2 (SS)”), who was aboard the USS Thresher when it was lost.

The online exhibit is at the Potsdam Public Museum, in Potsdam, NY, at 2 Park Street,  The Civic Center, Potsdam, NY 13676. Telephone: 315.265.6910. Potsdam is about an hour and a half from where I grew up. I used to do sports meets there in high school.

My dad put together the Tom Denton Thresher painting collage and created and donated the engraved Navy bell pictured above (my eighty-four-year-old dad did the plaque and woodwork around the bell). The bell was presented to Steven’s widow, Donna Ross, and was rung in a Tolling-of-Boats ritual that recognizes all the lost American submarines. Following the ceremony, the bell was presented to Steven’s widow and a duplicate was donated to the Potsdam Museum, by Diane Cayey Anderson, Steven’s sister. I’ve been present at one such Tolling-of-Boats ritual, years ago, in Saratoga Springs, when I helped my dad at a submarine veteran’s event. It’s powerfully moving.

Did you know that lost boats are never decommissioned? The Thresher, and all the other 65 lost American boats, are on “eternal patrol.”

Thanks, Dad, for your part in getting this memorial established and for your service in the U.S. Navy.

Posted in Memories, Technology, To Be Human | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Pikes Peak The Smokey….

U.S. Forest Service Pikes Peak Points-of-Interest Map

U.S. Forest Service Pikes Peak Points-of-Interest Map

Friday, August 21st (2020), my wife and I drove up Pikes Peak. Yeah, the famous one that inspired that Katherine Lee Bate’s song (and here is some history on the song). We’ve both been up there before—for me this was at least my third time. I’ve even hiked up it from the trail head once, back in my twenties. Took the Cog Rail Train down. Anyway, I’ve been wanting to get up there again, but with all these fires lighting up all over the west, wasn’t sure about the view, but thought, what the heck, it’d be fun to do anyway.

So, we packed up the vehicle and headed out early.

The drive up was fun and gorgeous, but the haze was building. We left early-ish. About seven-thirty, and it was a good thing, because the later it got, even just an hour later, the more people began hitting the peak with us. We made a couple of stops, one of them at the place shown below (Point “D” on the above map). Unfortunately we saw none…though I have to admit there were two “Big Foot” statues between there and the summit, both of which I didn’t end up talking shots of for one reason of the other, most of which involve “throngs” of people.

Big Foot XING, Pikes Peak Highway (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Big Foot Country - Pikes Peak Mountain (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Big Foot Country – Pikes Peak Mountain (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Then we stopped at Crystal Reservoir. One of the “Big Foots” was there. By the porta-potties. Initially there was no one beside us in the parking lot, but after walking around a little, when I finally went to go take the shot, several vehicles and a line of non-Big Foots (i. e., people) waiting to use the porta-potties interdicted my efforts.

Crystal Reservoir, Pikes Peak Mountain (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Crystal Reservoir, Pikes Peak Mountain (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Crystal Reservoir, Pikes Peak Mountain (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Dang It, How'd I Get In Front of the Camera? (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Dang It, How’d I Get In Front of the Camera? (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Around this time, as we drove up the Pikes Peak Highway, I think it might have been at the Pikes Peak Hill Climb Start Line (see above map, Point “F”), two fire fighter trucks pulled out in front of us, so the rest of the way up (to Glen Cove, actually), we drove behind them. Sometimes they poured on the gas, but they, too, got stuck behind traffic and no one pulled over to let them pass (really, people?!). It was at Glen Cove (Point “K” on the above map) where we had to pull over to take a shuttle that they out-distanced us. It was here (Point “K”) and Devil’s Playground (Point “O” on the above map) that shuttles were mandatory, unless you had special needs. There is so much construction at the summit there is little room to park. For realsies. So, as we waited, I took some additional shots. The one titled, “A Tree,” just grabbed us both. It was a real nice tree.

Glen Cove Parking Lot View (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Glen Cove Parking Lot View (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

A Tree (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

A Tree (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

The ride up in the shuttle was us and another couple and a really talkative driver (in a good way). We were all spaced a row apart and masked up. The driver was new to the area so she didn’t know much about the sites on the drive up. She mainly talked about her move to Colorado (she was quite excited about moving here a couple of months ago), and Laura talked with the couple behind us. About halfway up, though, Laura and the couple spotted a small column of smoke down in the “foothills” of the peak. We later discovered that that was why the fire trucks were in such a danged hurry. As we road up to the summit, we passed them pulled over along a stretch of highway and observing…then again on our way down. They were quite interested in that column of smoke, and we later learned it had been put out by firefighters.

Anyway…once we got to the summit, we walked around, checked out the Summit House, had some Pikes Peak donuts (or rather, I did, wife wasn’t interested), which you have to do when you get up there (it’s the law), cake donuts—and they never disappoint, even after all these years since we were last up there—and took in what we could of the view, which weren’t much, as you can see by the images. At the time there were a bunch of forest fires smoking up the skies. Things have since cleared up, but the fires are still raging. We checked out aspects of the summit construction, and it is a massive undertaking (scheduled to be completed next year, which is 2021, for you people in the future who read this)—nearly the entire summit area is being reworked. It’s pretty incredible. It was also up here that I spotted the other “Big Foot,” inside the current Summit House, but again, so many people were around, with one little child milling around “Big Foot” for a spell, I just wasn’t able to catch a photo and wasn’t in the mood to ask people/tiny child to buzz off (I’m not a fan of crowds, if you haven’t guessed). Whatever. We all know what “Big Foot” looks like.

Top A Da World, Ma! Pikes Peak Summit (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Top A Da World, Ma! Pikes Peak Summit (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Summit House, Pikes Peak. 14,115 Feet To You And Me. (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Summit House, Pikes Peak. 14,115 Feet To You And Me. (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Summit of Pikes Peak. You Seen One Mountaintop, You've Seen Em All. (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Summit of Pikes Peak. You Seen One Mountaintop, You’ve Seen Em All. (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Pikes Peak Summit Construction (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Pikes Peak Summit Construction (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

 

More Pikes Peak Summit Construction (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

More Pikes Peak Summit Construction (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Pikes Peak Summit Rock. And Haze. Lots of Haze. (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Pikes Peak Summit Rock. And Haze. Lots of Haze. (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Pikes Peak Summit View (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Pikes Peak Summit View (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Normally you can see into Kansas on clear days. Or New York. Not this day.

We took took the shuttle back down, it was just the two of us, and this driver was far more knowledgeable and gave us the rundown as he took us back to our Glen Cove parking lot. Once we got back to and into our car, we took in one more area of interest: where expert skiers ski on the Peak, and the location of the old ski resort that existed on Pikes Peak back in the day (1939-1984). It went out of operation a year before I moved into the state. You can kinda see in the second image below how gnarly the area is. Pret’near vertical, with lotsa rocks. Hard rocks. Steep rocks. I was never near that ability. I was a strong “blue” skier who ventured into “blacks” now and then. But no more ski I, especially since my THR. Yes, I fell a lot…and I’m not supposed to do that anymore. Especially on rocks. Have I mentioned “rocks” enough? In the top image directly below you can see the old ski trails. At the base of those, and down to the right of that edge of road there (and not pictured) was the ski resort. The parking lot is still there. The area was being used as a base camp for cars/equipment for those doing the summit construction.

Old Pikes Peak Ski Resort. (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Old Pikes Peak Ski Resort. (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Devil's Playground Ski Area (Where Small Patch of Snow Is In Distance). (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

Devil’s Playground Ski Area (Where Small Patch of Snow Is In Distance). (© 2020 F. P. Dorchak)

After all that and taking in those last two sights, we finally headed out and on up to Woodland Park for some lunch at The Swiss Chalet. Incredible food.

Now I’m hungry, dammit.

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The In-Between Hours

It’s plus-or-minus five a.m. and I’m sitting outside on our deck in the still-darkness, listening to the roar and crash of waves of wind across silhouetted treetops, like breakers against a beach.*

I love the in-between hours, the dark hours, the times when few are awake and aware…just as I love the bright sunny hours, the warm hours, the hours when life is teaming with birds and sunlight and animals…but I brought out the telescope so that I could show my wife the Orion Nebula before she went off to work. She was wowed. She’s also quite taken with Venus—in fact many things astronomical, since she’s started watching some astronomy shows on Netflix—Mars. But this morning the nebula came into great focus on my little Celestron AstroMaster 90mm refractor. I also took a look at the moon, in all it’s brilliant full-moon glory. Sirius, of Canis Major, was also dancing in all its multi-colored chromatic glory as well, and really took me for a loop. I don’t know if it was my mindset or what, but I’d not noticed it so vividly bright before, almost like a cop’s flashing lights (this is called  chromatic aberration). Both Orion and Sirius are in the southeast sky at this time of the morning, and no, the nebula doesn’t look quite as stunning in my telescope as it does in my link above. First, because of my rather “small” telescope, and second because of what light’s visible through it, versus long exposures, light wavelengths, and all. But you can see the astronomical indelible “smudge” the nebula has made on the Universe.

But after I’d had my fun and pointed these thing out to my wife and she took off, I’d done what I’ve been more of in the habit of doing these early morning hours: sitting on our back deck, catching the last glimpses of straggler stars, and soaking in the atmosphere of the

(…roar and crash of waves of wind…like breakers against a beach…)

winds that breeze across all our backyards and rooftops. Tossing the silhouetted treetops about…as if they were raised hands at a nature concert.* Taking in the the approaching seasonal changes in the air…the cooling temperatures, the turning leaves, the atmospheric shifts and “feel.” I sit there, sipping my beverage and watching the remainders of stars as our sun begins to creep up over the horizon and chase their light away for another few hours. I so love being able to do this every day, now.

And hope the images stay with me throughout the remainder of my day.

*Yes, I am using these phrases in my newest work.

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