The 16th March marks five years that I have been contributing here at PA Pundits International.
What got me started here in the first place is interesting in itself. I had been connected to the Internet since 2003, a basic dial up connection, but it wasn’t until after the advent of Broadband connection here in Australia that I actually started to be able to really look around at the information that was ‘out there’. That was in 2005, and in March of that year, we purchased a newer car than our old one that had served us so well for 16 years. I wanted to keep that car in as pristine a condition as I could, and after some prompting, I found a site that could help me. I asked questions there, and I used the screen name of TonyfromOz. During the early process of learning how to keep our car looking great, I was contacted by a friend who lives in Stockton California, and we started emailing each other on a regular daily basis. Our interests were similar in nearly every respect. He would send me links to articles he thought would interest me, and my views expanded with those emailed links. I was still in the tentative stage of looking around, and I would rarely, if ever, leave comments in some of the areas at sites that enabled comments to be submitted, sort of like an expansion on the old letters to the editor format used by the hard copy newspapers, only in this case, an instant comment. That friend is now one of my best friends, and we still keep in touch with regular emails every day, sometimes many emails each day.
One of the links he sent to me was to an article at this site from an early contributor T Lee Humphrey, and in that article, Lee mentioned the War in Afghanistan. The article struck a chord with me, and I actually decided to leave a comment in reply to his article. The site administrator contacted me by email and asked if he could use that comment as a Post of its own at the site.
That Post is still as relevant today as it was then, because now, five years later, we are still in Afghanistan, and still in a relatively similar situation. That original Post of mine is at the following link.
Also, in that original email, the site administrator asked if I might be interested in becoming a regular contributor. Other than leaving the very occasional comment at any site, I had no idea if I could contribute on a regular basis. I had an idea that I could perhaps contribute something about the impact of what the Kyoto Protocol might have on the generation of electrical power from the traditional sources we rely upon now as a staple of life. Those power sources are in the main large scale coal fired power, and the problem that the Kyoto Protocol was addressing was in respect of the reduction of emissions of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and coal fired power is the largest source of those emissions.
This electrical power theme was in fact the trade that I had been in during my 25 years as a member of the Royal Australian Air Force, so I did have a background in that area. However, my perception was that this would be a really dry and probably boring subject, but, now asked to contribute Posts on a regular basis, I thought that maybe I could do something like, coming from a knowledge base I was comfortable with. So, I told the site administrator that I would try to do something for him in the form of a series of Posts about the ramifications of Kyoto with respect to electrical power generation.
I expected that this series would be about 6 or so Posts in length, and after that, well, that would have been it I guessed. So, using the Internet as a source for the information I needed, I would construct my Posts in my Word Processing Program, and when completed, I would email them off to Ed, and he would post them at the site.
What I did find was that the more I looked, the more there was to write about. That original series, Kyoto – A Perspective ended up being more than 50 Posts in the original series, and then a number of additional Posts as well. During the process, Ed the site administrator, mentioned that rather than going through a number of steps, it would be easier for me to just write the Post straight at the site, so he gave me login facilities, and I would then just write the Post at the site and then schedule it when it was completed. He also asked that I add a personal profile to add to the site here and that Profile is at this link, and that includes the explanation for the screen name I use TonyfromOz.
That process of itself was again another learning curve as I tried to do everything correctly, but at every step, Ed assisted me, with everything I needed to know. Next came the addition of images, and on and on, as each new part of the blogging process slowly came to me.
Once that series finished, I thought that was it for me, as I had covered so much. I was at a loose end as to what to do next, and after some general interest Posts, I decided to just keep going with the subject I knew best. Contrary to my thinking that I had said it all, I had only just started to scratch the surface. The more I looked the more I found. What I did find was that people were totally uninformed when it came to the generation of electrical power, and there was now an almost exponential move towards the use of renewable power, especially from the two versions that had become flavour of the month, Wind Power and Solar Power. The thinking was that these two forms of power could just seamlessly replace coal fired power, something that it just patently cannot do at all. What I did next was concentrate on those versions of renewable power, learning as much as I could, and then writing about it. So, I just kept doing what I was best at, writing about electrical power in its many forms.
Along the way, I have added other things that I write about also. Foremost among them is my regular Sunday Music Post, where I select a music video and then write some information about the song and the artist or band.
One of things that has given me the most satisfaction is the series I have here at this site on the Australian author Arthur Upfield. That series is almost 60 separate Posts and it took me 6 Months to compile. I already had most of it written down and saved in my word processing program, so Posting it here was a matter of transcribing it across, and as simple as that sounds, I had to structure it so it was in the shorter format of individual Posts while the original was a series of seven huge documents. So, while it was basically transcription, I also had the opportunity to add to what I had and also to do more research along the way. It is a source of happiness for me that this series is now here where everyone has access to it. I don’t claim that it’s the definitive work on Upfield, but it would go close to being that. That series can be accessed at the Arthur W Upfield Home Page, which has an introduction, and links to every Post in that series and reviews of each of the 29 of those famous Bony novels.
I have live blogged elections both here in Australia, and also in the U.S. giving results as they happen.
Ed, the site administrator, also asked if I might take over the Editing role as well, something that I find enjoyable, and as part of that I have added Posts from an Australian perspective with regular daily Posts from Andrew Bolt here in Australia, as well as the regular daily Posts at our site. I suspect that while the position of editor sounds like something big, my impression is that it is a relatively minor thing really, as site administration would be more time consuming than that of editor.
Our site has had a (very minor) name change as the word International was added to the title, and while some people may think that is slightly pretentious in nature, one look at the contributing authors here shows you that we are indeed an International Blog, and that is confirmed by the map of daily visits to our site, and they are, quite literally, from every corner of the Globe. The ratio ranges from 40% to 60% from the USA and the balance Worldwide. We are also quite a large Blog in the scheme of things, and while not one of the Majors, we are only one place back from that.
I now regularly contribute at a major Australian Blog site, the JoNova site. I regularly comment at that site, and I have even been given the honour of writing a number of Guest Posts there as well.
One question I am regularly asked is why I don’t start up my own Blog under my own name. My answer, every time, is that I don’t need to do that, as I already contribute at a Blog that is a very large one, perhaps larger by a factor of hundreds more than any Blog that would be under my own name, and besides, all the information I have is already here at this site, so I have never felt the need to do something like that at all.
So, have I ever had a Post that has troubled me. There has been one of them. Early on in my original Kyoto series, I found a piece of information that was absolutely startling in its nature. I went looking for information to confirm, and after considerable visits to a number of sites, that information proved correct. Knowing that and then writing about it for a Post here was another thing again. That one Post gave me the most angst, and it was a difficult thing for me to actually hit the Publish button. That Post was originally published in December of 2008. The information is just so difficult to believe that I needed to explain it very carefully, and then to link to an impeccable site that backed up what I was saying. That post is at the following link.
You can see why it was a difficult thing to Post, because it just sounds so ridiculous, that a heavy substance like a lump of coal can produce a gas that weighs almost three times more than that lump of coal. It is however an absolute fact. To this day I still get funny looks when I say that, because people just don’t know, and cannot believe it. I’ve been called an outright liar for saying it, and hasn’t that backfired on those who have said that to me.
That one post, now more than 4 years old has had literally thousands of direct visits, so much so that it is one of our highest rating all time Posts at our site. For the last two years it is one of the top three rating Posts on a daily basis, and receives regularly 30 direct visits a day. So, while the Post gave me the most angst, it’s one of the Posts that I am most proud of, to be able to give that information to so many people.
While I have been a contributor at this site for five years now, that time has just flown by. Some members of my family wonder why I bother, but besides giving information that not many people are aware of, along the way, I have learned so very much. Now, whenever I am asked something, I have somewhere to go where I can direct them to that information.
So, what has surprised me the most?
I started blogging on a technical subject about the generation of electrical power, something that on the surface seems so dry and probably even boring. What never ceases to amaze me is that the average person out there actually is interested in something like this, and furthermore, they have a thirst for that information. They want to know about it.
My task here at this blog is to write about that information in a way that the average person can understand it.
While my name is now attached as the author of around 950 Posts over those 5 years, most of those have been on this core subject of electrical power generation, and in fact, there is always going to be more to write about on that subject.
Some people might look upon blogging as work, or even a hobby.
For me, it is an absolute pleasure. I just love doing it.
Q and A:
Here are my questions:
Q1: What has been the major lesson you have you learned over the past five years of writing articles and publishing my commentaries and others?
Alan, thanks for the best wishes and your questions. At the start, I had a reasonable handle on the Political situation in the U.S. and what really did surprise me was that I knew more about that political situation than a lot of Americans. I already knew how similar the political Party closeness really was with respect to Australia and the U.S. but right from the start, I had to explain that similarity, because here in Australia, the main Party from the conservative side of the political divide is called The Liberal Party of Australia, (formed in 1945) and that word liberal means the opposite in the U.S. and is used to signify those who lean to the left side of politics. The Liberal Party here are almost a mirror image of the Republicans in the U.S. and while you have The Democrats from the left of politics, here in Australia we have the Australian Labor Party, and again, your Democrats and our Labor are also mirror images.
However, the main thing I have learned in these days of the almost instant availability of information is that there are now so many sources to go for that information, and the main lesson for me is not to rely on just one of those sources. Before I write anything of my own, I visit a number of links and get a more whole and rounded picture of the same story, because each source says something that might reflect the writer’s own opinion. I also have sources that I trust and some I don’t particularly trust. Oddly, while their information is slanted in most cases, I still use Wikipedia, but only as a starting point. From there, I can then chase up information from further sources, and again, what helps here is the use of a variety of wording for those search engine searches, because different wording (of the same original thing you are seeking) throws up different links, and at times, I even scroll though pages of links to find some of that information.
Q2: Have you seen any trends emerge?
What has surprised me is there actually is a thirst out there for information, more so now than five years ago. People really do want to be informed on some subjects that might be perceived as outside their level of understanding, and, in the same breath that I say this, there seems to be more people readily willing to believe as Gospel what they are told, without bothering to check for themselves. That is evident in this Climate Change debate, which morphed from Global Warming. Five years ago, a greater percentage of people believed in it than do now. This is not because the debate has faltered, because it fact those pushing this so called closed debate have become more strident. Less people believe it now because contrary to what the situation was five years ago, now, both sides of the debate are in fact getting out there, and people are now becoming more informed about it, and are looking for the information themselves, rather than believing what they are told, in the main from people with separate agendas, using that Climate Change debate to implement those agendas.
Another trend I’ve noticed is that people are now less likely to believe what they read in the Media about any subject, and will source their information from a larger number of areas, again, making them more informed.
Also, while seemingly the same as always, I have found over these five years that those in power from the left side of politics want more and more control in their own hands, almost having the blind belief that only they can tell you how to live your life, and only they know best what is good for you.
Again Alan, thanks for your kind wishes. I always look forward to reading your daily Posts, and I missed them while you were off air in November as a result of Sandy, and we mentioned that specifically at this link. Yours is a voice we all need to look to.
Congratulations on five years! Time flies when you’re having fun.
I sincerely appreciate your work in helping spread the word on my rantings..
The most interesting thing I can remember in the last five years was your response to my post on the “Australian Flight Review”
Remember when I sent several chapters from the beginning of my book and you posted them as normal articles. Finally I sent you a note saying “I’m writing a book, Tony”.
Again, my best to you and I hope whatever years I have left can be in working with you.
Warmest regards, Marlin
Marlin, thanks for the best wishes and the questions too. Man, all you guys have given me a lot to do with these questions, and again, something like this I also like doing.
Q1: How many web sites do you read every day to write your articles and in what priority?
The biggest aid I have here is thanks to my Sister. She’s a computer expert, and being at the forefront of anything related to computers, she directed me to use Firefox as a browser around 6 years back now just before I started out here. I usually open up a number of tabs and just navigate from one to the next. First thing in the morning I catch up on the news. I have 5 sites I use here, one local, one State, two National, and one International, and I cruise through them for an hour or so, after catching up on the overnight emails. Then I’ll visit a couple of the other blogs I regularly comment at, one mainly, the JoNova site I mentioned above, where I have also had a few Guest Posts. There’s usually some follow ups there that I need to address.
As to the daily Posts, I have a good system for that as well, and again I open up a number of tabs. I have 6 or so Primary sites, around the same number of Secondaries, and the occasional other sites as well. I’ll open up the Primaries first and then cruise through all their Posts that are new. From that I’ll select the Posts for the following day, usually one from each site to give me four or five Posts a day. That selection process might take an hour, hour and a half. After the selection I then pick the best four or five, and start the process of Posting them at our site. That usually takes around 2 hours. Some are formatted so they can copy straight across, and others need to be copied via my word processor. Then load the images into each Post, and size them correctly. That takes me through to the late afternoon/early evening. Then, last thing before I retire for the night, I’ll do a quick last check to see what else might be new, or if anything else needs to be addressed.
Here’s where our site has a distinct advantage over other sites. I can actually do all of this during my daylight period here in Australia, while that same time in the U.S. is during the night, so while you guys are all asleep, I’m readying the Posts for the following day, so they are always there first thing in the morning. That time difference is something that I now know exactly. Every time I look at a clock, besides knowing the time here, I also know the time in the U.S. for all 4 zones. The only time I’m caught out is on the cusp of Daylight Saving in the U.S. and that only entails a day or so to adjust.
For any Posts of my own, being the editor, I have the luxury of planning when they are published, so I can spread out the research time over two or three days, and nearly every one of those Posts takes a fair bit of research, as I like the information to have as much relevant detail as required.
In between all this, I fit around the daily things I do here, the mowing, the gardening, and the shopping trips, and visits with family. That old adage about having more time on your hands when you retire is a bit of a fallacy for me, as sometimes, there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
Q2: How did you learn to write so good? Did you go to school for it?
The writing process is something that comes with actually doing it. I come from a background of 25 years in the Air Force. They started with computers in the late 70′s, mainly maintenance following and parts procurement. When I was Posted back to the School of Technical Trade Training with the Air Force as a Trades Instructor/teacher, this was at the time when Personal Computers were just coming in. They were a great help with lesson plans and curriculum development etc so, from the mid/late 80′s I was working on PC’s with word processing programs, in those days, the early WordPerfect2.1 Program. So, that’s how I started writing, even in an educational format.
At my next Base, they had a weekly small format (half Tabloid style) newspaper produced on the Base. I played Cricket, (the game they play in Heaven) for 25 years, and by now, while an older player, I was more into coaching etc. I approached this small On Base newspaper and asked them if I could contribute a weekly article on the Cricket matches played as part of the On Base Competition. What started as a small article soon saw me filling the whole back page Sports section. I was also approached to contribute Cricket report articles for the National Monthly Air Force magazine a tabloid sized glossy that came out once a Month, and I contributed three or four articles for that published Nationally within the Air Force.
As to writing, most of the formative stuff I did was actually into my word processor with that Bony series, and that ended up as a Monster folio with a series of very large documents compiled over a number of years, as I read each novel, and then compiled the review, and my thoughts from those novels by Upfield.
When you check back to where I originally started here, you’ll see some of those early Posts are somewhat amateurish, so if (and that’s a pretty big if) I am considered as a good writer, then that has only come from actually doing it.
Q3: How many authors have you rejected that you felt wouldn’t meet the standards for PA Pundits?
Everybody has something to say, and blogs are perfect for that. I can’t say I have rejected anyone, but in the same breath, not many have approached me and asked to contribute.
Q4: How do you decide what tags should go with each article?
Tags are just key words, and I’ve found that the fewer tags you have the better. I try and find the tags that most accurately fit what the article is about.
Q5: How can you set up the program so that viewers can easily do a search?
Again, this is the one really big thing I have learned since starting blogging. How to do a search. Try and find the key phrase you want to search for, and then go looking. What I have found is that even doing this, you still may not find what you are looking for, so just alter the phrase and look again, and you’ll end up with a whole lot more links. Also, don’t just look at the entries on the first page of links. Sometimes I’ll get down to pages more than 5 when I go looking for what I need. Then, also try other search engines as well, even some of the smaller ones. The information you’re looking for is out there. All you have to do is find the right phrase for your search. Oddly, the Post I mentioned above about how much CO2 is produced from coal, well, there are number of phrases in that that are relevant. As an experiment, we have a Search area at the top left of our main Home Page. Type in there any number of relevant phrases and you’ll get sometimes many pages of references, and you’ll have to go looking for the Post. However type in 2.86 (only that number) and the first mentioned Post is the exact one you are chasing up.
Congratulations on your 5 yr. anniversary. It doesn’t seem that you’ve been with us that long. —– Annie.
Thanks Annie. Funny, the older you get, the shorter the time seems.
Q1: (I was going to ask this some time ago but never got around to it) last summer I watched an episode of Dirty Jobs Down Under. And I could not believe what I heard, I’m sorry I can’t remember the towns name but tt has the highest amount of poisonous snakes in Australia, but what really got me was that the snakes caught in peoples home, in their pools, etc. could NOT be killed (native species) but had to be released in the same area. Is this really true?
I understand protecting native species but isn’t this going a bit to far?
Come to think of it, it reminds me of an a Dirty Job episode in California where animals (skunks, opossums and the like) had to be released on the property on which they were caught. Any Idea which Government (US or OZ) got the idea from the other?
That video made most of the news releases for TV here in Australia. It was actually for one of the inner suburbs of Brisbane, the State Capital for the State I live in, Queensland. The many floods we have had in the last few years have led to an explosion in the number of snakes finding their way into suburban areas, and snake catchers have had steady work for the last few years now, catching snakes in homes. All snakes are protected here in Australia, and keep in mind Australia has 9 of the ten most venomous snakes on Planet Earth. Any snake that the catchers capture has to be released back into the wild. As much as you see stories like this, it’s not an everyday occurrence, but yes, these catchers have regular work. Huh! Rather them than me.
Q2: How do you stay so Conservative and positive in such a liberal country?
That’s often puzzled me at times. I have always voted for the Conservative side of Politics, right from the first time I voted in 1972, and that was for Eric Robinson in my local seat (for the electorate of McPherson) for MP, and Neville Bonner for the Senate. It’s got me into arguments with some of my family, and friends, but, strategically, I can always change the subject before it gets too heated, What I can’t figure, and I’ll relate this to what I write about mainly in the area of renewable power especially. I am considered as an expert in this area now, and no matter how many times I shoot down those from the Left who are gung ho with renewables, they will still support them because their side of politics supports that. It makes me smile more than anything, because they think that it is MY support of the Conservative side of politics that is the only reason I don’t believe renewables are the way of the future. I’ve done five years of research now on this subject, and I can literally shoot down any argument, and do that on the spot, instantly, without need for reference to find out, and yet, the response, almost every time, is that I base that on politics only, when I have proved beyond doubt that it is they who base their decision on politics only. As to staying positive, here in Australia, we have an approaching federal election in September, when the current Government, Labor, (from the left) gets thrown out. I have never been anything other than positive when it comes to politics. There’s no point getting downhearted about that. Life’s too important for that.
Q3: The 17th is St. Patrick day in the US we have parades dye rivers green eat corn beef and cabbage (which I understand is not an Irish dish) Irish soda bread, and other Irish or green themed dishes. I understand that the English don’t celebrate it. Do Australians do anything special on this day?
In fact, right now, Saturday afternoon my time, as I am writing this, there has been major marches in every Capital city here in Oz for St. Patrick’s day. All celebrations here are traditionally held on the closest Saturday to the actual day itself. The Irish Bars do a roaring trade mostly in Guinness, and (yuk) even dyed green. I recently finished a wonderful novel about Irish history, Edward Rutherfurd’s Ireland Awakening, which was a follow on from his first novel on that subject, Dublin. Both novels trace the history of Ireland and give remarkable insight into the so called problem in Ireland. Did you know that the famous Irish potato famine had its genesis in the U.S. I can heartily recommend both novels.
Congratulations on sticking it out for so long.
I am a proud Progressive.
You write very well and I don’t always feel the same way as you do on many subjects.
Thanks Ditzy. when it comes to friendship, whichever political direction my friends follow is the furthest thing from my mind when it comes down to basing a friendship.
Q1: Is there any US TV shows that are popular there?
Most of the U.S. sitcoms are popular here, and I can’t think of one of them that I watch. Most of the Crime/Law series are popular as well. Think that whatever is popular in the U.S. is popular here as well. There is one anomaly I can’t figure out though. I like NCIS, (the original but not the spin-off from LA) and any search I can find shows me that it is one of the most popular shows in the U.S. and yet here in Australia, it hardly rates at all. In my opinion, the single U.S. TV program program/series I liked best was without any fraction of doubt The West Wing. Cooking programs are all the rage here in Oz at the moment.
Q2: Are most in your country committed to reverse Global Warming?
When you think Climate Change/Global Warming, we are even more gung ho here than you are in the U.S. I still consider this to one one of the biggest hoaxes ever foisted on humanity. Right now, the debate is being used for one thing only. Politics. Everything to do with it is political in nature only, and seriously, if the problem was as bad as is being told to us by the media, you would think they would do something about it, and yet all we get, still, is talk about how bad the problem is. Anything being done about it is minor in nature.
Q3: Why is such a good looking, intelligent man, like yourself not a Progressive?
Hey thanks, but seriously, intelligent, hmm! A stretch there. Good looking. Not any more, and come to think not really in the first place. Progressive. Sorry. Never.
Congrats on 5 tough, grueling and glorious years!
I hope you have many more great years with our blog.
I tried to send you a cake via email but it didn’t work.
We have to get Marlin to invent something that could quickly beam things to each other. LOL
All the best,
Ed, thanks, and you most of all deserve the biggest vote of thanks from me. Without your constant instruction, and more importantly, patience, I would still have little idea how to do what it is I now do so easily.
Q1: Re: Loss of Personal Freedom. Off the top of your head, How much freedom have you lost since the time Oz was established as an independent nation?
How does that compare to the USA, with the individual freedoms and rights originally given to us by our Constitution and Bill of Rights?
Australia, discovered 1770, settled as a Penal Colony in 1788, and Federation was in 1901. We are still a part of the British Commonwealth, and even after 2 Referendums asking Australians if they wanted to become a Republic, both times Australia has decided, by resounding margins to stay as part of that Commonwealth. Even now, any referendum asking the same thing would fail, and fail easily. Mainly by virtue of distance, Australia has its own freedom from that supposed Rule from England, who virtually wields no influence over us whatsoever. We are our own people, and fiercely so. We have our place on the World Stage. At the top corner of our Flag is a smaller version of the British Flag. Twice that has also gone to referendum to remove that Union Jack, and twice that has failed also. We are Australia. We know we are Australians, and we are proud to be Australians.
True, Government, especially of the Left seeks to have more control over our freedom. I have the same opinion now, as I have always had. There is no place on Planet Earth I would rather be than here in Australia. I am as free as I want to be.
Q2: What is the largest voting age group in Oz compared to the USA and how do they vote.
Okay, now here’s where any American reader will scratch their head in wonder. Voting here in Australia is compulsory for everyone over the age of 18, and while you sit there in amazement, it works perfectly, and has for so long now. Rather than explain the whole process here I will direct you to a Post of mine about exactly this subject, and again, this highlights something Marlin mentioned above, search engine phrases to look for. Even though I have the link supplied here to that Post, go to the search facility at the top left of our main Home Page and type in whatever you like there that you think will take you to the relevant Post and eventually you will find it. However, type in the phrase Electoral Process, and it is the first Post that shows up.
With respect to compulsory voting, it works, and it works exceedingly well, every time, and everyone is happy with it.
Q3: Our visitors are fairly evenly divided between USA and the world. How would you compare the differences in comments on your articles (From full agreement to complete disagreement)?
Most are actually in favour of what I write, and I think that mainly stems from just putting the facts there for people to read. I do find that people have this belief of what they are fed from sectional media interests, and they are surprised when they read what I have to say, because I strive to show the facts, and then back that up with careful explanation, and then links to confirmation of those facts. Luckily, now having been doing this for 5 years, I have a huge store of information, and when I visit other sites, I link into my own Posts here at this site. Because that information is already there, I can instantly reply to any question without having to tell them that I’ll get back to them later, and people find that refreshing, that information is so readily available.
Q4: Are your friends and relatives supportive of your endeavors, neutral or apathetic?
Neutral would best describe it. They wonder why I bother, and they scratch their heads that I do it for free, and they can’t understand it when I say that I like doing it. I do it because I want to do it, and it gives me pleasure doing it.
Q5: May we send you our worst, spend-thrift politicians, FREE of charge?
They would find themselves right at home here, under the current Labor Government, just on a smaller scale.
Pat sends her best wishes. She wanted to get a question to you but she isn’t feeling well. Maybe she can put it on the comments page.
In her last email to me she stated: Much of Tony’s articles (about Oz) sound like US politics. —ed
Thanks, Ed. Pat is 100% correct. Exactly the same only on a smaller scale.
Thanks to all of you, and in closing, I’ll tell you an interesting little anecdote, and I want you to keep in mind that is from an Australian.
It’s often said that everyone remembers where they were when JFK was assassinated, and you may think that only applies to Americans, so I have two related things on that.
I was 12 at the time. It was a Saturday morning around 10AM local time when I heard about it. I played Junior Grade Tennis at the Queens Park Tennis complex in Southport, Queensland here in Australia. There were 8 courts, and there would have been around 70 to 80 of us Juniors spread over the 8 tennis courts, teams of four, 2 boys and 2 girls, and we would play Doubles every Saturday morning all year round. This Saturday morning our team was on the Number One Court, directly below the main stand and administration centre where our Coach and administrator, Mr Flaxman, would sit in his office and watch as we all played. Just after 10AM, he came out and called for us all to stop playing, well those closest to where we could hear him anyway. I was with my doubles partner, Lenore, and we were directly below him. He told us that President Kennedy had just been killed. We were all rightly shocked at this, and the four of us playing at the time walked to the net as a small group. Three of us asked the first question that came into our heads, as 12 year old Australian children ….. “Who’s President Kennedy?”
I asked Mr Flaxman later, and he explained it to the group of us who he was, and what this meant. That one point in time was the first thing I ever learned about the U.S. and started my interest in the U.S. but that is how I remember exactly where I was when it happened, and I know it was a Friday afternoon Central time in the U.S. but it was Saturday morning here at that time, as the news filtered through.
Now, fast forward to 2007.
Sometimes, children come and ask their grandparents especially about information for the older members of their extended families, and more often than not, it’s too late for those older people, as they have lost reference or images.
So, rather than wait for the call, I decided to make a photo album for our young grand daughter still only 9 years old, so she had something tangible to take with her through her life. This was a labour of love for me and took me literally Months to compile. I had to compile the images my good lady wife had, scan the images, work on them in an image program, resize them, and then have copies made of those images for this new album. Then I had to compile some text identifying each image of the four people in her life, and extended family members in those images, young Savannah herself, her Mother and her two grandparents, me and my wife, images from every age throughout all their lives. The project swelled and swelled, and ended up as a huge album of almost 250 images, and a family tree of two pages covering six generations.
While doing the text for all the images, I came across an image (shown here at right) of our daughter, from my wife’s first marriage, young Savannah’s Mother. It was an image of our daughter as a six week old baby laying on a bed. I asked my wife if she could remember anything about this image and she told me this was taken by her Mother at her home, and this was the first visit to her Mother’s home after the birth of her baby daughter. I asked her when it was, and after some thought she mentioned that she had no real idea other than it was on a Saturday morning, but the one thing she did remember was that as her Mother came into the room with the camera to take the photo of the baby on the bed, she mentioned that President Kennedy had just been killed.
That gave me an exact time, and I wrote the text for the image reflecting that this was at 10AM Saturday morning on the 23rd November 1963.
When I gave the completed album to our 9 year old grand daughter on her birthday, she was interested in the album, but I knew that as time went on, it would become more important to her. More fascinated with the album was Savannah’s mother, the baby in that image, and she pored over the album for days, literally. The next time we visited, she asked me in particular about that one image, and knowing that I compiled the album, and I was still a boy in Queensland and did not even know her Mother, now my wife, how I could be so certain as to the time and day that image of her as a baby was taken. I then told her about how I knew with certainty.
See how things you think are not related one to the other are linked together.
Now, it’s six years later, and every time we visit, I see that album in pride of place in 14 year old Savannah’s room. Her mother, our daughter tells us she loves it, refers to it often, and is just so happy to have it. Later in life, it will become very important to her, because by then it will be too late for us to do something like that for her.
That’ s what is important in life. Family.
We come full circle now, right back to the very beginning, because none of this would have been possible, had it not been for my good friend in Stockton California, who sent me the original link to this site, and had it not been for him, none of this would have happened. He has this wonderful saying that I also now use as well.
Life is good.