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.

Blogging This Week End …

… may be slightly disjointed. Right now, I’m sipping coffee at an undisclosed location near the Ebenezer Cumberland Presbyterian Church. That church sits on land donated by my great-great-great-grandparents John and Mary Hoge in the 1830’s, and their descendants meet there for a family reunion on the fourth Sunday in May. Today will be spent with my brother, cousins, second cousins, third cousins, … , and their spouses and children.

BTW, I’m now the oldest person born with the name Hoge who attends the reunion.

That’s Not a Bug, It’s a Feature

Joel Kotkin has a piece over at City Journal about the failure of the California high-speed rail project. Reality has finally set in, and the new governor is pulling the plug on the wasteful endeavor which has been emblematic of the state’s elite class’s mismanagement of their fellow citizens’ subjects’ lives.

Some greens and train enthusiasts, such as the deep-blue Los Angeles Times editorial board, have criticized Newsom’s move, and others remain adamant in their support of the plane-to-train trope. But California, which has embarked on its own Green New Deal of sorts, has seen these results:  high energy and housing costs, and the nation’s highest cost-adjusted poverty rate, and a society that increasingly resembles a feudal social order. Attempts to refashion global climate in one state reflects either a peculiarly Californian hubris or a surfeit of revolutionary zeal.

It was the early warning signs of the attempt by rich Progressives who were certain that they knew better to take over California and make it in their own image that led Mrs. Hoge and me to move out of the state in 1990. Being in the upper 5-% of the income spectrum was clearly going to be insufficient to allow for protection from the coming changes. Indeed, it made us prime targets of upper-middle-class “wealth” to be taxed. We joined the first cohort of economic refugees.

California is now becoming a feudal society with rich Progressives and Democrat politicians at the top, a growing class of serfs at the bottom, and a disappearing middle-class. That’s fine for the folks at the top. For now. But it can’t and won’t be stable, and that instability isn’t a bug. It’s a Real World feature resulting from the Laws of Thermodynamics. What can’t go on forever, won’t go on forever.

The Vietnam Service Medal

I received one for my service in Vietnam in 1971-72.

I’m 71 years old and one of the youngest recipients. There are only a few stragglers left who served in that war who aren’t drawing Social Security yet. Other than for service during the two days of Operation Frequent Wind in April, 1975, the last qualifying action for the Vietnam Service Medal took place on 28 January, 1973. It is highly unlikely that anyone who joined the military during or after 1972 would have been legitimately awarded the medal.

A Note to Gillette

In re you new ad—The last time I shaved was the morning of our wedding day.

When Mrs. Hoge and I first met, I had just returned from active duty as an Army Reservist, so my chin whiskers were gone, but my mustache was intact. By the time we met again I had regrown my beard, and it remained intact throughout our courtship. However, she suggested that I shave off everything except my mustache for the wedding.

Our wedding was scheduled for the Saturday after Thanksgiving in the small Indiana town where her grandparents lived. I drove her up from Nashville on the weekend before and went back to Tennessee on Sunday to go to work on Monday. I shaved my beard on Monday. On Wednesday, I drove up to Indiana. Connie greeted me at the door with a big hug and kiss. After a prolonged hug, she stepped back with a quizzical look on her face. After a few seconds, she spoke, and the first words out of her mouth were, “Grow it back after the wedding.”

At Least 1/256 Scot

I’m a descendant of William Hoge and Barbara Hume Hoge who both immigrated from Scotland to America in 1680. They were my great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandparents.

UPDATE—When a couple of my aunts (my mother’s sisters) were doing genealogical research so they could join the DAR, they discovered that they were descended matrilineally from Elizabeth Hoge, the daughter of James Hoge, Sr. (William and Barbara’s grandson) who served in a Pennsylvania militia at Valley Forge.  My father was a descendant of James Hoge, Jr., which means that my parents were fifth cousins and that I’m my own sixth cousin.

A Family Day

Every fourth Sunday in May, the descendants of my great-great-great-grandparents, John and Mary Hoge, get together at the Ebenezer Cumberland Presbyterian Church near Jasper, Tennessee.

Although there are cousins who attend who are in their 90s, I’m now the oldest person named Hoge who attends.

Meanwhile, Back at My Day Job

We’re testing the performance of the widget I’ve been working on for the last couple of years. It’s being operated over a wide temperature range in a vacuum chamber. This particular test cycle will run 24/7 for next couple of weeks. It’s important to demonstrate the reliability of the equipment prior to launch because I don’t make house calls above the atmosphere.

An Anniversary

In the spring of 1968, I was working at WLAC in Nashville. WLAC is a clear channel AM station that covers 28 states and a large swath of the Caribbean islands at night. During the day, the station was programmed for an upper middle-class local audience in Nashville and referred to itself as “News Radio 1510.” At night, it was the number one R&B station in the country and called itself “Blues Radio 1510.” To make the transition from one format to the other, there was a block of programs that ran from 6 to 8 pm. It started with a local newscast and a series of news, sports, and commentary programs from CBS that ran from 6:00 to 6:35. They were followed by taped programs beginning with a financial infomercial followed by a right-wing political broadcast, a religious program, and a southern gospel music program. Then, the R&B DJs (John R, Hoss Allen, and Gene Nobles) hit the air from 8 pm to 4 am.

My news shift ran from 4 to 10:30 pm. From 6 until almost 8, I was usually the only person at the station’s studios other that the guard at the front door. I did the local newscast from the operator’s position in Master Control and ran the console to bring in the CBS programs, play the recorded local commercials, do station breaks, and play the taped programming.

For many years, CBS radio used a cuing system that consisted of brief chirps transmitted during pauses in programs. Those chirps operated display equipment at the network affiliates used to signal what was happening next. In the ’60s, the display was rather crude—an illuminated stepper wheel numbered 0 through 9. One kind of chirp caused the wheel to increment one position upward. Another kind of chirp reset the wheel to 0. At WLAC, the Netalert box was set up in a rack behind the master control operator. We couldn’t see it, but we could just barely hear the device increment. It wasn’t quite loud enough for our mic to pick it up. 5 seconds before a program started, the box would step to a 1 (program cue), and at the end of a program the box would step to 2 (end cue) and then reset to 0. Occasionally, the box would step to 3 for a news bulletin.

So here’s what happened on the evening of 4 April, 1968.

6:28:49 CBS: … Phil Rizzuto, CBS Sports [second netalert chirp, reset chirp]

6:28:50 RECORDED COMMERCIAL: Star Chrysler/Plymouth

6:29:50 LIVE: This is News Radio 1510, WLAC, the broadcasting service of the Life and Casualty Insurance …

6:29:55 CBS: [netalert chrip]

6:29:55 LIVE: …  Company, in Nashville, Tennessee. Stay tuned for the Minority Report from CBS at 6:30.

6:30:00 CBS: Dead air

6:30:15 CBS: [second and third chirps]

6:30:25 CBS: This is Douglas Edwards, CBS News New York. Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King, Jr., has been shot in Memphis, Tennessee.

That night, a 20-year-old white kid working as the newscaster on an R&B station with 2,000,000 listeners learned the importance of getting the story right.

Team Kimberlin Post of the Day

Failing failure gotta fail, and Team Kimberlin’s use of such incompetent PR flacks has been a great source of pointage, laughery, and mockification. For example, consider this post about Blues in the Night from four years ago today.

* * * * *

Back in the late ’60s when I was working the midnight to 6 am shift on an FM station, I sometimes suspected that I only had a dozen or so listeners.  BluesListeners201404030300ZA worrisome thing who’ll leave ya to sing
The blues in the night
Yes, babe, only, only blues in the night …

* * * * *

Speaking of working in radio during the ’60s, tomorrow is an anniversary of one of my most memorable evening on the air. Tune in tomorrow to more details.

A Christmas Story

The troop ship carrying my father back from Europe docked in New York on 21 December, 1945, and my father had his travel orders to return to Tennessee in hand on the 23rd. He and another captain from Tennessee wired their wives and arranged to meet them at the Hermitage Hotel in Nashville on the 24th. And then my father and his buddy found out that all the trains to Nashville were sold out until well after Christmas.

They went out on the street and flagged a cab. They told the cabbie where they wanted to go and why, and he agreed to take them if they’d pay for the gas both ways. During the trip, they talked with the driver, who was too old to have served, about what they had seen and done during the war. In my father’s case, that included the liberation of Dachau. When they arrived at the hotel late on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, my father started to pay the cabbie, but he refused payment. He told my father, “I’m Jewish. Thank you for what you’ve done. Have a Merry Christmas!”

The next year, my father received a Christmas card from the cab driver, and they continued to exchange Christmas cards for many years.


Today is the thirty-eighth anniversary of my marriage to Mrs. Hoge and the first anniversary of my becoming a widower. I’ve held off writing about some of my experiences related to Connie’s illness and death for this past year, but now I want to tell the Gentle Readers some of that history.

In October, 2014, Connie was helping some friends plant trees. After that day of hard work, she complained of back pain and thought she had pulled a muscle. In late November, the pain was still bothering her, so I finally got her to see the doctors at the student health clinic at the University of Maryland. (She was working on a Masters in Landscape Architecture.) After a couple of visits, they finally sent her for an x-ray and, after seeing the x-ray, referred her to an orthopedist. The orthopedist sent her for an MRI, and after seeing the MRI, said, “You need to see your oncologist.”

Connie responded, “I don’t have an oncologist.”

The orthopedist asked, “You know you have cancer, don’t you?”

No. She didn’t.

By the week between Christmas and New Years Day, it was determined that her T4 vertebra was almost completely gone and T5 was involved with the cancer too. By the first week of 2015, we knew it was stage four breast cancer that had metastasized, but there was no indication of cancer showing in her mammogram. In February, Connie had surgery to stabilize her back, and she recovered enough to begin a course of radiation and chemotherapy in March. By July, she was in remission, but the prognosis was not good. The particular form of breast cancer she had was usually aggressive, and we were told that it was certainly lurking somewhere in her body.

Connie went back to school and continued work on her Masters. She also reengaged with her other activities such as the Forestry Board.

The picture at the top of this post was taken on 7 November, 2016. Seven days later, Connie took a sudden turn for the worse. She was disoriented, so our son William took her the emergency room. She was admitted to the hospital because her blood calcium level was out of control. During that stay in the hospital, it was determined that there was nothing further that could be done to treat her cancer which had spread to her liver, so we brought her home for hospice care.

During those last eight days, William and I had help tending to Connie’s needs from one of her friends from her college days at Indiana University in the ’70s (she came from Ohio) and Connie’s brother and half-sisters (who came from Chicago and New York). Over two hundred people came to visit. In fact, I had very little time alone with her until our anniversary on Thanksgiving. She was very weak. After about 7 am she could no longer speak, but we sat holding hands through the day. Around dusk, she went to sleep. Just after 6 pm, she stopped breathing and her heart stopped.

Throughout her illness, Connie had excellent medical support from her treatment team at Carroll County Hospital Center and the University of Maryland Hospital. She was screened for various studies, but her cancer was already at stage four when she was diagnosed, so the only appropriate studies were for genetic screening. She also had the support of the medical professionals in our extended families, including two pathologists (one of whom is a breast cancer survivor), an oncologist, and a pain management nurse.

It’s been a year, and I’m still not used to being without Connie. OTOH, the separation is temporary. One of the things we share is a firm belief that

this perishable body must become imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality. But when this perishable body will have become imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then what is written will happen: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

I’ll just have to wait.

This and That

It’s a busy day in the lab today doing some critical testing on a power supply for a subsystem of the instrument we’re building for the next Landsat mission. That Real World activity will prevent me from completing the new Johnny Atsign episode.

But before I disappear into the lab, I want to take note of a couple of anniversaries. Five years ago yesterday, I received a SWATting threat. One of the statutes of limitation on that crime has now run out.

One a happier note, my first date with Mrs. Hoge was forty years ago today.

Light My Fire

John Hinderaker has a piece over at PowerLine about the Doors’ Light My Fire which was released 50 years ago. He includes a link to

the seven-minute version of “Light My Fire” the way the band wanted it played, with keyboard and guitar solos intact. I heard it this way countless times after the 2:45 radio version had faded from the scene …

I fondly remember the album version. I was working as a DJ that summer, and it was one of the few songs that I could get away with playing that was longer than three minutes. It was long enough to allow me to leave the control room, go down the hall to the men’s room, and make it back in time to play the next commercial or next song.

And then Alice’s Restaurant was released …