When you see me at the Fabulous Fiftieth Reunion, I will be hobbling around on crutches; so just to confuse things, I’ll start with a photo of me water skiing on the Great Columbia in 1968, when I stopped by Richland briefly while traveling from Ohio to Hawaii for some schooling.
Since 2001 I have spent two weeks each in Turkey, Greece, Rome, Florence, Venice, Austria, Paris and Norway. Plus three months in Japan (second photo).
The third photo shows my elder brother, Robert; my younger sister, Mary Beth; and me.
I’m happy to be alive and pain-free. I am grateful for family and friends. Every day I have something to look forward to, especially our Golden Anniversary Bomber Reunion!
When I retired in 2005, I asked myself: What do I want to do with the rest of my life? To help answer that question, I asked: What has been the most fun so far? The answer was: Learning stuff in college. So I briefly considered going back to college. Then I asked: What do I want to study? I decided that since my remaining life is short, I should think big. I decided to study the most important issues facing mankind. I decided to predict and where mankind is going in the next decades. In order to predict that, one needs to know the present and the past. So I decided to study history. Because colleges don’t teach that kind of history, I decided to skip school, save the hundred grand in tuition, and buy books instead. So far I have purchased over 1,000 books and 200 DVDs. For any one particular topic, I have purchased up to 40 books and 20 DVDs representing all perspectives on the topic. Amazon.com is essential. In addition, I subscribe to twenty newspapers and journals, also representing all perspectives — far left, left, center, right and far right — Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim – foreign, domestic – winners and losers.
What have I learned so far? The main thing I have learned is that even though the American mass media and academia make a show of presenting wide-ranging fierce debates, in fact their range is severely restricted. One anecdote says it all: In early 2004 an American high school student living in Spain wrote a letter home in which she said (paraphrased), “The Spanish people have an incredibly warped view of America. The Spanish mass media present images of Americans that are totally false, but the gullible Spanish people actually believe them! I try to tell them that Americans are not like that at all. Americans would never do such things.” Three weeks later American media also began to show photographs of Abu Ghraib. The photographs had been shown in Spain, but they had been suppressed in the United States by the Secretary of Defense. Similar stories are numerous. To this day many such stories remain unavailable in American mass media and academia. That’s why I try to obtain information from a wide variety of sources. It’s fun. Every morning I can hardly wait to read more. I am preparing to write a book, even if it’s a pipe dream. I’m just having fun.
As a part of my study program, for a while I actually stopped buying books, I cancelled all my newspaper and journal subscriptions, and I read nothing but the Bible. I read a version of the Bible whose footnotes matched the text in length. I read the entire text, and all of the footnotes, from Genesis to Revelation. It took time, but it was fun. Whether you are a fundamentalist, a liberal, or a nonbeliever, the Book is amazingly relevant and fundamentally insightful to the past, present and future.
In the 1960s big, card-crunching, mainframe computers were just making their appearance. In college I decided to apply this new machine to romance. I organized a computer date night. I issued questionnaires to my college classmates, asking them to describe their personality, and to describe the personality they would like in a date. I punched the cards, fed the cards into the computer, and the computer made the matches. I informed everyone of their “scientifically” selected date. After that it was up to them to contact each other, if they so desired. As it turned out, the evening was a great success. In fact, two of the couples got married! Given the success of the computer program, I sometimes wonder what would have happened if I had patented the program and gone into business. Would I have become the Baby Boomers’ Mark Zuckerberg? Would I be a billionaire by now? Would the RHS Class of ’61 be invited to celebrate its 50th reunion on my 200’ yacht? Yes. But I never considered getting rich. I just wanted to learn stuff. (Then again, if I had become a billionaire, I could learn stuff a lot faster.)
As graduates of RHS, we have some things in common that are almost unique among high school graduates: We all have parents who helped build nuclear weapons. We all participated in “civil defense drills” in which we lay prone with one arm protecting the back of our necks. Although we were frightened nearly to death, we were too young to think deeply about what our national policy concerning the use of nuclear weapons should be. We left that to older people. Now we are too old to think deeply about nuclear weapons. We leave that to younger people. When we were in our prime of life, who among us, if anyone, thought deeply about nuclear weapons policy? As proud Bombers whose logo defiantly remains the mushroom cloud, surely our 50th anniversary is as good a time as any to thank somebody for delivering us from nuclear war. But whom should we thank? Should we thank the hawks, some of whom advocated preemptive nuclear strikes against Russia, China, and Vietnam? Or should we thank the doves, some of whom advocated nuclear disarmament? Or should we just be thankful and have a good time?