Genealogy, Extended Family, and Thanksgiving Gatherings


My parents grew up in a small town in Tennesse.  A few years after they married, one of my father’s cousins (actually, a first cousin once removed) married my mother’s sister. Their children are my first cousins on my mother’s side and second cousins once removed on my father’s.

Are you following me so far?

Both my father’s and my mother’s families arrived in the colonies prior the Revolution.  A few years ago, one of my aunts on my mother’s side decided that she’d like to join the Daughters of the American Revolution. When she went looking for a Revolutionary War ancestor, she found that she (and my mother, of course) were descended from my father’s great-great-great-great-grandfather who had been in the Pennsylvania militia at Valley Forge. My father and my mother were fifth cousins.  That means those first cousins of mine are also fifth cousins twice removed on my mother’s side and fifth cousins once removed on my father’s side.

It also means that I’m my mother’s fifth cousin once removed and my own sixth cousin.

And none of the family has ever lived in West Virginia.

Alas, we are no longer holding the gatherings of four or five generations of the family for a potluck on the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend. This year’s Thanksgiving dinner will just be for my son and me, not enough people to justify doing a whole turkey on the grill. We’ll have a venison roast prepared using one of the recipes Mrs. Hoge left for us.

I look forward to a larger gathering next year.

Team Kimberlin Post of the Day


What are the odds? There’s that six degrees of separation thing about how many level of contacts separate any two people, but how likely is it that any two people a connected via only one degree of separation?

Before I started writing about Brett Kimberlin, I had a vague recollection of him as the federal prisoner who had claimed to be Dan Quayle’s dope dealer. It wasn’t long after I started writing about him that I found the number of degrees of separation between us was one. It turned out that I had connections to several people who had known Kimberlin while he was in Indiana. (Mrs. Hoge went to school at IU in Bloomington, and while she never met Kimberlin, she had several friends knew him.) This post, An Interesting Coincidence re #BrettKimberlin, is from eight years ago today.

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We didn’t pick up yesterday’s mail until we were coming in from church this morning. Mrs. Hoge handed me a package that turned out to contain a copy of Citizen K: The Deeply Weird American Journey of Brett Kimberlin. A friend finally got me a personal copy via a used book seller.

The book has one of those clear plastic protective jackets that you find on library book, and, sure enough, it’s stamped as being a discarded book from a library. The Monroe County Public Library. In Bloomington, Indiana.

Bloomington is where TDPK was selling drugs when he was a teenager. It’s where the activities that led to his first conviction (for perjury) took place. Bloomington is turning out to be a real source of information. Perhaps some more follow up with personal contacts is in order.

* * * * *

Those follow up contacts have been excellent sources of information. I wasn’t able to publish much of that information directly because of privacy concerns, but it often pointed to which rock to turn over next.

But back to my recollection of Kimberlin falsely claiming to have sold dope to Dan Quayle. That lie didn’t work either in 1988 or 1992, and it was debunked in Citizen K which was a biography authorized by Kimberlin. More recently, his band of hackers failed to tip the election toward Hillary protect our election in 2016, and his anti-Trump efforts don’t seem to be getting much traction this year. (itstime2020 dot org is still stuck below #14,000,000 for its global popularity ranking.)

Remembering


Today would have been Mrs. Hoge’s 66th birthday. One of my favorite memories of our time together is of her 24th birthday. It was the first of her birthdays that we celebrated together.

Connie and I met at the Audio Engineering Society Convention in New York in 1977. We kept in touch over the next few months. In the summer of ’78, I had decided to move back home to Nashville, and Connie, who had just finished her B.A. in Audio Production at Indiana University, was also planning to move there as well. As part of tying up loose ends, she was finishing up an album project for a local Bloomington band, and asked me to help with the sessions. I had some free time between leaving one job and starting the next, so I spent a couple of weeks in Indiana working on the sessions. (The picture on the left is from a feature article about her from the IU campus newspaper.)

While I was there, I took Connie out to dinner for her birthday at one of the fancier restaurants in Bloomington. Instead of a birthday cake, she asked that we order Baked Alaska for desert. When it was served, Connie was delighted. She took real pleasure in the taste and smell of the dish and the feel of the simultaneous hot and cold. There was something marvelously attractive about her in that moment, and it was then that I realized she was the one I wanted to make my life with.

It took almost another full year of courtship to convince her to say, “Yes,” and a few more months to say, “I do,” and then we shared a wonderful 37 years together.

Well, I’m Glad That’s Done


The Real Wold has been imposing itself on my life more than usual this week. I’m a member of a team designing (and eventually building and testing) a widget that will be part of a robot mission for NASA. Today, a Preliminary Design Review was conducted on our progress. I was one of out team’s presenters at the review. Over the past week, I put in about 60 hours of work with the team getting our presentation together, and that took a lot of time out of my other activities, including blogging.

BTW, we passed the review.

I’m gonna go get a good night’s sleep.

The Day It Finally Bothered Me


Being required to stay at home for the past month has resulted in occasional inconvenience, but hasn’t been truly bothersome. Attending church and other Zoom meetings over the phone had been my biggest annoyance. (Zoom isn’t installed on any of my devices because of security issues. I connect to those meetings with a landline phone.) My son happened to pick up toilet paper, paper towels, and other household staples at Costco a few days before things went nuts, and the stores where we shop have generally restocked well after the initial disruption. Working from home has actually been more productive because I’ve had fewer interruptions and meetings via Microsoft Teams usually have run more efficiently than face-to-face meetings. Doing The Other Podcast from Studio B here at Stately Hoge Manor is easier in some ways and more challenging in others than schlepping gear to an undisclosed location each week.

But yesterday, something about the shutdown finally truly bothered me.

Yesterday was Arbor Day.

My late wife Connie was deeply involved in issues related to natural resources, especially trees. She served as the President of our county’s Forestry Board and was a member of the Governor’s Advisory Council of Forest Sustainability. The photo on the left shows Connie in a hollow sycamore tree. It was taken while she was with a group of Forestry Board people measuring trees to determine the largest of various species in the county.

Connie died on Thanksgiving Day, 2016. On Arbor Day, 2017, a group of friends planted a sycamore tree in her honor in a county park. The Gentle Reader should not be surprised to learn that I go by the park from time to time to see how her tree is doing. Yesterday, was the first Arbor Day that I missed going. The park is closed.

Mental Illness on the Left


Steve Hayward has a post over at PowerLine that takes a look at some of the correlations found in the raw data in the Pew Research Center’s latest American Trends Panel Survey. The top line conclusion is that Liberals are more than twice as likely as conservatives to be found to have a mental health condition. The work is by Zach Goldberg, a Ph.D. student.

One interesting graph in the PowerLine piece shows the percentage of respondents reporting having been diagnosed with depression, borderline personality disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia across the political spectrum. For very liberals the self-reported number is 32 %. For very conservatives it’s 11.8 %. The difference is so wide that the lowest value in the confidence interval range for very liberals is well above the highest value in the possible range for very conservatives.

I followed the link to Goldberg’s work at Thread Reader, and found more interesting material. One graph that stood out to me shows the average scores on the Big 5 personality battery made by white liberals who did and did not self-report a previous mental health diagnosis. Note that the while the scores on the Yes side are more skewed from average, they are still well within one standard deviation of average.Here are my scores on the Big 5 personality battery. (Note that the vertical scale is twice that of the graph above.)
It seems that my personality is mostly the opposite of a mentally ill liberal. I’m below average on neuroticism and agreeableness (I’m hard to get along with, but that doesn’t really bother me), and I’m above average in extroversion and conscientiousness (I’m pushy about getting things done). The only main personality trait I share with liberals is openness to new ideas, but most of them aren’t as open as I am.

Hmmmmm.

No wonder I have trouble getting along with these people.

Interesting Cook Books


Over at Instapundit, Helen Smith has an Amazon link to a book titled How to Cook a Wolf. (BTW, that link should provide credit to Instapundit if you buy the book.)

That title reminded me of the first gift I bought for Mrs. Hoge. We met in New York, and for our third date we went walking around midtown Manhattan together. One of the places we stopped was a Barnes & Noble store. We found this book on the remaindered table. She thought it looked interesting, and I bought it for her.

Being Prepared


My podcasting partner Stacy McCain has a post up with his take on overreaction to the Wuhan virus pandemic. He points out that some of us Boomers are better prepared (mentally, at least) to deal with evaluating how we should handle risk, and that we bring a different perspective from many younger folks, especially younger media people.

That’s true, but it’s also true that underreactiong to the risk can be dangerous. Indeed, it’s smart to avoid any unnecessary risks.

I possess two qualifiers for being at increased risk of complications if I contract the virus. I’m 72 years old, and while it’s been 16 years since the last one, I’ve had three heart attacks. The NASA facility where I normally work has gone to mandatory telework, but I began working from home as soon as telework became an option. I shop at odd hours or online to avoid crowds, and I take other reasonable precautions.

More important, I was prepared to be able to take those steps well before the pandemic hit. Experience with illness and minor natural disasters led me to put in place the resources i would need to operate at home under odd circumstances.

Stacy opens his post with a discussion of the Boy Scout Motto—Be Prepared, and he writes about a couple of points of the Scout Law—A Scout is Cheerful and A Scout is Brave. I’ll add a comment based on the Scout Slogan—Do a Good Turn Daily. Part of my preparation has included setting aside resources to be able to help others. We’re going to have to help each other through this mess.

I Spent the Early Part of the Morning Shopping


I woke up early this morning, and instead of rolling over and going back to sleep until the alarm, I got up and went shopping at the neighborhood Safeway. At that time of day, the store is essentially empty, and the overnight crew is busy restocking shelves. They were almost done by the time I go there. It was interesting to see what had been picked clean and what was still seemed to be at the usual stocking levels. Bread, milk, toilet paper, processed meats, certain canned goods, and certain frozen foods were either almost or completely gone. The rice and kosher foods were depleted, but still in stock. Fresh produce was abundant. There were plenty of paper goods other than toilet paper.

I also stopped by a Trader Joe’s a bit later in the morning. The store was more crowded than usual, but almost everything was in stock. In fact, the milk section was absolutely full when I picked up a gallon of skim milk.

When Mrs. Hoge and I lived in California, we began keeping a stash of non-perishable food as part of our earthquake preparedness, and we continued to maintain that stash when we moved to the east coast. We have hurricanes here. While we’ve cycled food into and out of that stash (stuff won’t keep forever), we never had to use it because of a natural disaster. I don’t know if I’ll have to dip into it during the current disruption, but it’s there.

Meanwhile, my podcasting partner Stacy McCain has offered some useful observations on what the various levels of government are doing to address the Wuhan virus pandemic. At the end of his piece he notes that “I’ve got 28 rolls of toilet paper, and the means to defend my family against any marauding bandits.” It turns out that my son made a run to Costco just before all this broke, and one of the items on his shopping list was toilet paper. We don’t have 28 rolls, but we have more than a month’s supply. And we’re well armed.

μολὼν λαβέ

Meeting People at CPAC


Among the first new people I met at CPAC this year was someone who grew up in my hometown (Nashville). We would have gone to the same high school but I’m a couple of decades older. I also met someone who grew up in one of the towns where Mrs. Hoge and I had lived in California. In fact, when she was in middle school, she lived on the next street over and about two blocks down from us.

It’s a small world after all.

Slow Blogging the Week


My blog output this past week has been below normal because I’ve been dealing with a rather nasty case of acid reflux. During the first half of the week, I only got about 2 hours of sleep each night. Finally, I found a proton pump inhibitor that got the problem under control, and I’ve been catching up on sleep.

I hope to get back up to speed over the weekend, and I intend to participate in The Other Podcast on Saturday.

Christmas Traditions


I was talking with a newlywed couple while waiting for the Christmas Eve service to begin at church last night, and I asked them how they were enjoying their first Christmas together and what it was like trying to merge their two families’ Christmas traditions. So far this year, I’ve been able to enjoy most of mine.

One is ham. Not just any kind, but a proper country ham. While I didn’t buy a whole ham this year, my son William and I went out for supper after church last night to a Waffle House, and I ordered a slice.

Another is lox and bagels for breakfast, a tradition that Mrs. Hoge and I started with our first Christmas together.

And warm socks. About 20 years ago, William asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and I replied, “Warm socks.” Every year since, he’s given me a pair. This year I received two pairs. Their designs are related to a pair of characters from a SF story I enjoy.

And finally, a nap. I think I’ll go take one.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

 

Team Kimberlin Post of the Day


This episode of Blogsmoke first ran four years ago today.

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BlogsmokeSOUND: MODEM CONNECTING FADES UP TO FULL MIKE—SINGLE SHOT—RICHOCHET

MUSIC: UP AND UNDER—RECORDED—CUT 1

ANNOUNCER: (VOICE OVER MUSIC) Around Twitter Town and in the territory of the net—there’s just one way to handle the harassers and the stalkers—and that’s with an Internet Sheriff and the smell of “BLOGSMOKE”!

MUSIC: THEME HITS: FULL BROAD SWEEP AND UNDER—RECORDED—CUT 2

ANNOUNCER: “BLOGSMOKE” starring W. J. J. Hoge. The story of the trolling that moved into the young Internet—and the story of a man who moved against it. (MUSIC: OUT)

JOHN: I’m that man, John Hoge, Internet Sheriff—the first man they look for and the last they want to meet. It’s a chancy job—and it makes a man watchful … and a little lonely.

MUSIC: MAIN TITLE—RECORDED—CUT 3 Continue reading

A Genuine Person


Back in the early ’70’s, I was working in the music industry in Nashville. One of places I worked was small studio that a musician had set up in his garage. It was equipped with hand-me-down gear retired from other studios. The console was a pastiche of vacuum tube and early transistor modules in a rather tall wood enclosure. I sounded great, but I could just barely see over it when sitting down.

As I was setting up for a demo session one evening (A demo is a simple recording of a song used to pitch it to singers for them to record.), the songwriter walked into the control room. She wasn’t very tall, and seated at the console, all I could see of her was that she was a cute brunette with a short haircut. It wasn’t until she came around the console and stood next to me that I realized she was Dolly Parton.

I very much enjoyed that session. In an industry where too many stars and wannabe stars are legends in their own minds, Dolly Parton was a nice person, a pleasure to work with. And sensible.

I was reminded of her good sense when I read a post by Suzanne Venker titled Of Course Dolly’s Not a Feminist. She Loves Men. (The periods are in the title.). The post is based on an NPR podcast called Dolly Parton’s America, and the apparent inability of the podcast’s host to understand why Dolly Parton isn’t a feminist.

In Dolly Parton’s America, Parton proves in spades that there’s a much more positive and compassionate attitude to have toward men, women and relationships. But if you want to adopt it, you can’t simultaneously pay homage to a group that assumes the worst of half the population. And you can’t take life so seriously.

But you can work hard and use your talent. And be a pleasure to work with.

I’m So Old …


… I remember when people (including my wife and me) moved to California because it was a place full of opportunities for growth. I also remember watching those opportunities slip away as the state became more tightly regulated. Eventually, Mrs. Hoge and I slipped away as well.

Of course, there’s nothing particularly special about California’s politicians and bureaucrats other than the size of the bureaucracy. They function with a typical level of incompetence. It’s no surprise to me that a state with significant energy resources is facing power blackouts because it has mismanaged its forests and energy production and distribution systems.

If you live in a well-managed state and you’d like a preview of a tightly regulated economy looks like, look at California. If you’re a one-percenter or the right kind of bureaucratic professional, you may like it. Otherwise, …

Afterthought— I used the term one-percenter in the paragraph above. That can refer to either an outlaw motorcycle gang member or a member of the wealthy elite. Either meaning works in that sentence.

Standards of Living


Bookworm has a post up about a couple of topics. The first part deals with the similarities between 21st-century China and the 16th-century Aztec Empire. It’s well worth reading, but second part about the difference between blue state and red state economies hit home with me.

I was born and raised in Tennessee. During the early part of my career, I lived and worked all over the world, but I returned home to settle down. Then, a career opportunity took me to California. I spent most of a decade there until another opportunity took me to Maryland. I’ve been in Maryland for almost 30 years. I’m in my 70s, and as I plan for retirement over the next few years, going back home to Tennessee seems to make more sense than staying here.

Bookworm writes—

If I’m on a fixed income (which you should assume I am, so donations to the blog are always welcome), I’m a much wealthier person in Tennessee than I am in California. Here in Tennessee, my apartment costs 1/5 of what it would in California, my gasoline costs 1/2 of what it would in California, and my utility bills are 1/3 what they are in California. Produce is more expensive here, but I can only eat so many apples. In addition, the roads throughout Tennessee are better maintained than those in California, the people are delightful, and Nature’s fecundity is glorious. I’m no longer living in an elite Blue community, but I feel I’m getting a lot of bang for my buck.

Just so.

I have a few more interesting things to do before I retire, but the call to go home keeps getting stronger.

The Last Three Years


In February, 2016, I went back to work from my second retirement. Since then, I’ve spent most of my time at Goddard Space Flight Center working on the power system for the TIRS-2 instrument.

Video Credit: NASA

Now that TIRS-2 has shipped for integration on to the Landsat-9 satellite, I’m off on new projects, the main one being a robotic mission capable doing on-orbit refueling and repairs.

Before my first retirement, I worked on power and thermal control systems for a couple of x-ray astronomy missions, GPS receivers and radio beacons for use in orbit, and instruments for testing the effects of radiation on electronic equipment, Between my two retirements, I worked with the GOES-R weather satellite program. There’s always something interesting to do at Goddard

We Don’t Get to Choose Our Ancestors


One thing that Barack Obama, Kamala Harris, Mitch McConnell, and I have in common is that we are all the descendants of slaveholders. Of course, slavery in the United States (and Jamaica in Kamala Harris’ case) was outlawed over 150 years ago. None of us ever had any contact with our slaveholding ancestors. IIRC, we’re talking about connections no closer than great-great-parents for Obama, Harris, and McConnell. In my case, the last owner of slaves among my ancestors was my great grandfather who inherited them when he was an infant. They were emancipated when he was three years old, so he never knowingly was a slaveholder in any real sense. He died ten years before I was born.

The four of us disagree about many things, but I’m sure that all of us oppose slavery.

We all have enough to be called to account for in our own lives without the added burden of our ancestors’ sins.