Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Early Days

Talk about the early days of the space program, it does not get much earlier than this. This is a picture of Robert Goddard towing one of his rockets to a launch site near Roswell, NM. Back in the day, Goddard was considered somewhat of a kook, and few people took him seriously. Today, he is remembered as the father of modern rocketry.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Alan Shepard

Alan Shepard was the first American in space. This is a picture of him on the deck of the carrier USS Lake Champlain after he was recovered from the water following the mission. The flight took place on May 5, 1961. The flight lasted about 15 minutes, was suborbital and achieved an altitude of about 50 miles.

As I look at these pictures, I keep being reminded of the excitement of the early days of the space program. Unfortunately, there are no analogous "Big Deal" projects like that any more. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

John Glenn

Today's picture shows John Glenn at the NASA Mercury Control Center. John was preparing for his space flight, where he would become the first American to orbit the earth. His mission, the Friendship 7, was a success, and the US soon moved into the lead in the space race.

The early astronauts were military test pilots. The early days of the space program were so exciting because of the grand nature of the program, the science and high technology involved, and the Cowboy nature of the astronauts. I am saddened that much of the excitement has been lost from the NASA programs.


I had mentioned earlier that I have a group of really brilliant and hard working students this year. They decided early this year that they would build their own space probe and put it at the edge of space. Near Space is considered to be above 100,000 feet.

I am proud to report that things are on schedule for a January launch. The project has turned out to be much harder than anyone had imagined, but I still feel like they are going to be successful. They have defined success for their program to be: 1) They launch in January, 2) The probe reaches an altitude in excess of 100,000 feet, 3) That they maintain live telemetry from the probe for the entire duration of the flight, and 4) They successfully retreive the probe when it lands.

The part that turns out to be the hardest is maintaining live telemetry contact with the probe during the flight. They are having to overcome numerous technical challenges to make that part work.

Anyway, they are doing great work, and have set up a blog on their effort. If you visit the blog, and like what you see, I am sure they would be encouraged if you clicked the "Like" button on their page, and maybe left them an word of encouragement. So many times we are quick to see the "issues" with the younger generation, so when we have young people undertaking something like this, it is important to encourage them.

There Blog can be seen here:

Also, the local TV news just aired this story on their work:

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Space Walk

It is hard to believe we that manned space flight began over 50 years ago. While the space program has such a high tech feel to it, we must come to grips with the fact that the early days of the space program qualifies now for "Old Picture" status. So, welcome to Space Week here at OPOD.

We start with this picture of the first United States Space Walk. Pictured is Ed White, who achieved the first United States space walk on June 3, 1965. You can see the umbilical cord which is providing life support to his space suit. The small unit in his right hand is a small rocket unit to allow him to maneuver himself to some degree. In the early days of the space program, NASA made a big deal about a future where astronauts would maneuver around outside untethered, in autonomous space suits. The truth is, that space walking, even by space program standards, is very risky, and so you see very little of it. While there were some space suits developed that were capable of untethered operation, you very rarely ever saw an astronaut outside the orbiter without being attached to the arm of the space shuttle, or with an umbilical. 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Beach Scene

We wrap up Recreation Week with this scene on a beach from around 1900. Again, I really like zooming in and looking at all the clothes. The little guy on the left appears to be wearing a bow tie.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Train Ride

Today's picture shows a group of people relaxing with a nice ride on a model train. I really love these old Live Steam model trains. You still see them at amusement parks. Some people do these things as a hobby and have train tracks and a steam train like this on their property. Looking at the picture, it is amazing how many people this little locomotive is pulling.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Day at the Beach

Recreation Week continues with this picture of people enjoying a day at the beach. The picture was taken in New York around 1900. I love the old style bathing suits.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Elephant Rides

Today's picture is from around 1900, and it shows a family taking a leisurely ride on an elephant. I can honestly say that I have never ridden an elephant, but do thing it would be interesting. My interest would not be in an amusement park elephant, but somewhere that elephants are still really used as transportation. I would bet that there are places in India and Africa where elephants are still used for work.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Pony Rides

What better form of recreation could there possibly be for a child than Pony Rides? I wonder what percentage of today's youth has ever been able to experience a bonafide Pony Ride? My guess would be well under 10%. Today's picture was taken around 1900.

Now, as far as yesterday' picture and the topic of Public Swimming Pools. Some appear to take comfort in the fact that there is Chlorine in the water. I am sorry, to me, that does not negate the underlying cesspool nature of the water. You simply have a cesspool with extra ingredients. If you add kool aid to potty water, I am still not drinking it.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Swimming Pool

Recreation Week continues here at OPOD with this fine picture from the 1940's of a public swimming pool. Many find relief from the summer heat at the local pool, but I will have to admit that I have spent the better part of my life avoiding public swimming pools. I like river swimming and recreation, but the swimming pool . . . well, I have fears that it might really be sort of a big cesspool.

Saturday, October 19, 2013


Last week was "chore" week, so this week we are going to look at recreation. Today, we have a picture of a looping roller coaster. Surprisingly, this picture is from 1903, so roller coasters have been around for a long time.

I do enjoy amusement parks, especially if you go on a day that is not so crowded. I like the rides that go up and down, like roller coasters or log rides, but the rides that spin in a circle make me sick. 

I have been to many theme parks, and my favorite is Universal Studios. I am not such a fan of the really big ones like Disney Land and Disney World. I think Six Flags over Texas, in Dallas, is a great theme park.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Milking Cow

We wrap up chores week with this picture of a little kid milking a cow. The picture was taken in 1915, and the boy was 8 years old. I can honestly say that I have never milked a cow, but I have seen it done. Please share your cow milking experiences.

Thursday, October 17, 2013


Today's picture is from 1902 and shows a young woman hanging laundry out to dry. Modern washing machines and clothes dryers are conveniences most of us take for granted. I would bet that most laundry done in the world today is dried in the sun like this.

When I was in Africa, the clothes were washed by hand, and hung in the sun to dry. The challenge was that it rained every single day for three or four hours in the afternoon. So, it was very hard to get your clothes dry. You would get a few hours of sun in the morning, and then when the rains started, you would have to move the clothes, still wet, inside, and hang them around the house. At 100% humidity, the clothes did not dry in the house, but you were just trying to keep them apart so they would not mildew. Then the next day you would put them back out. Finally you would end up with them sort of dry, but definitely still moist. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Polishing Plow

One of the things we don't think much about today is how hard it was to plow in the old days before tractors and automation. It was key for the plow to be just right to minimize friction as it cut through the soil, being pulled by a mule or horses. As such, one of the chores on a farm was to keep the plow polished and greased, which you can see this guy working on.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fetching Water

Today's picture shows a chore from bygone days we hardly even think about any more . . . fetching water. Free flowing clean water is one of the modern conveniences we take for granted. I have visited parts of Africa where people spend half their day gathering and bringing the water that they need to survive.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Slopping Hogs

Today's picture is from 1939, and it shows a man slopping the hogs. This means he is feeding the hogs. I actually had a pig growing up as an FFA project. I found the pig to be very smart . . . probably smarter than most dogs. I wonder why pigs have never become a popular pet? 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Feeding Chickens

Today's picture shows the chore of feeding the chickens. I love this picture, because one of my chores around here is taking care of the chickens. It is actually something I really enjoy. Each chicken has its own unique personality. It is funny to watch them as you can almost always predict what any given chicken is going to do. The chickens are very friendly and sociable animals, require much less work than a dog, and provide wonderful free range eggs.

I have enjoyed reading about your chores, and hope you will continue to share more information about your chores, past and present.


OK, the lovely Mrs. PJM and myself have just passed an important milestone . . . it has been one year since we threw the TV out of the house. So, one year of peace and quiet, with no TV. So, you might ask, did we miss it? To be honest, not at all. There was not that much that we really watched, but I am a little bit of a news junkie, so the TV was always on. Then in the evening, whether we were watching it or not, it was always on.

So, why did we do such a counter-cultural thing as rebel against the norms of society and give the TV the boot? Well, I guess I would explain it this way . . . for my wife and I, it was sort of a matter of conscience. I am not saying where we felt led is the answer for everyone, but it was sure what was on our hearts.

How many of us that are people of faith regularly pray that God would protect our homes, that he would build a hedge of protection around our homes and our families, and that he would provide for our needs? Lets say God hears and answers those prayers. After he builds a hedge of protection around our home, what do we then do. We call the cable guy who comes out, drills a big hole through that hedge, and brings a wire into our home that spews out all manner of filth. So much of the stuff on TV celebrates, promotes, and encourages the things God hates. Even if you watch something as harmless of the cooking shows, you end up being exposed to all manner of vile images in the advertisements. Our cable bill was about $90 a month. Knowing the great need that exists in Africa, we decided that the money could be better spent caring for poor and orphaned children. The $90 is enough to care for three or four children. It feels good going to bed at night knowing that there are little bellies out there going to bed full because we threw the tube out.

So, like I say, I do not expect others to agree with me, but will say we have really enjoyed the year of peace and quiet, and I can not imagine every having a TV in the house again.

Saturday, October 12, 2013


Welcome to Chore Week here at OPOD. How many of you remember having to do "chores" growing up? Chores are daily domestic responsibilities that used to be split up between the children. Chores might include washing dishes, taking out the trash, mowing, feeding the animals, mowing, or even milking the cow. Did you have chores? What were they. It seems to me like most kids these days do hot have chores.

I really like the picture above, from 1900 showing a family doing laundry. The funny thing is, this is the way laundry is still done in many parts of the world. Where my daughter lives in East Africa, no one has a washing machine, all clothes are washed by hand in a tub, and dried on a line.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Bat Masterson

We have been looking at people this week that outlived their times. An excellent example is Bat Masterson pictured above. He was a notorious buffalo hunter, frontier lawman, and gambler. He lived on into the 1920's and ended up being a sports writer for a New York newspaper. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Old Timers - Day 3

Today is Day 3 of Old Timers Week. Like the last two days, I will leave it to the viewers to see if someone can figure out who this is. The theme is about people who outlived their times. Good Luck!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Old Timers

Old Timers Week continues here at OPOD as we look at pictures of people who outlived their times. Today's picture is a good example. I will leave it to the viewer to figure out who the man is. 


Most of you know that in my spare time I teach High School. I really like it, and in fact enjoy it more than any other job I have had. I am constantly amazed at how brilliant these young people are. Last year I had a chance to teach microprocessor programming to a group of Juniors. They really liked  it, but were frustrated with the constraints of the traditional school system with 50 minute class periods. This year, they petitioned the school to be given a unique schedule where they could have a class that would give them the entire afternoon uninterrupted to focus on learning some serious in depth engineering. The school accommodated, and figured out a way to give them what they were asking for, while still staying within state education rules and requirements.  So, I have the chance to have these students in as my class all afternoon. I told them that they got to pick the format and topic of the class, but I would have to agree that it was educationally worthy and challenging. 

They agreed, and they decided that they wanted to make it a Senior Project type class, and in the class they would design and build a space probe, and a lifting platform that would put the probe in space. "Near Space" is the area above our atmosphere, and it is typically designated as above 100,000 feet. They said that their space probe would be controlled by a microprocessor, would measure inside and outside capsule temperature, pressure, elevation, and would include a 9-axis inertial measurement system. The probe would also have GPS features integrated, and would include real time telemetry that would communicate with a ground station throughout the flight. The probe would also take high resolution photographs showing the blackness of space, and the curvature of the earth below.  I said it sounded good to me, and they then prepared a presentation for school administration asking for a budget to fund the space program. The administration was impressed and agreed to give them the money. I have been really impressed with how much progress they have made on this in the last six weeks. With a little luck, they might just pull this off.

In the picture below some of the students are working through some of the math. You can see the microprocessor and some of the components they are using in the electronics on the table.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Old Timers

This week we will be looking at Old Timers. I will define Old Timers to be men who outlived their era, or their times. This will include people who are famous for one period of time, but then lived on to see huge changes. The case in point is today's picture . . . while not officially a Mystery Person Contest, you can have fun trying to guess who it is.

Friday, October 4, 2013

White House Police

Today's picture is from 1937, and it shows a White House police officer. This was after a shooting competition, and this officer had the top score. I am surprised however that in 1937 the officers would not be carrying more significant fire power . . . like maybe a Colt 1911 or a Tommy Gun.

Thursday, October 3, 2013


Law Enforcement Week would not be complete without a picture of some Texas Rangers. This is a pretty amazing photograph, and I love the hats and weaponry. Enjoy!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Traffic Police

This is another picture of a traffic policeman. The neat thing about this one, is he appears to be coordinating pedestrian and horse powered wagons. I love the style of the clothing in the picture.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Traffic Police

Today we have a picture of a Traffic Police Woman. The picture is from 1920. It is interesting to see that she apparently is carrying a side arm.