Friday, April 12, 2019

KATIE BOUMAN’S NEXT CHALLENGE



To construct a new
algorithm to find Trump's heart?
She found one black hole.

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Friday, March 22, 2019

A DARKER PLACE

A DARKER PLACE

There is no joy in this White House
Like presidencies of the past;
No gala spectacles we see,
Just angry Twitter blasts;
It seems that stars of lesser light
Sometimes will visit there,
But when sports champions show up
Trump feeds them fast-food fare;
The humor’s mean, the quips untrue,
Much hatred, and countless lies,
The Capitol's now a darker place,
What with its Russian ties.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

SOME PHOTOS OF JAMES F. TIDD SR.

A small collection of photos of my Dad, a few of which I couldn't use in his official memorial collage.

REMEMBERING DAD




More than a few times while stopped at a filling station, someone has asked me why I had an unusual grin on my face. And I responded, “Diesel fuel.” Then I would tell them that diesel fumes was the smell I associated with my father. Diesel, sweat, and Old Spice---the aroma of meeting him dockside on the pier as he returned from a naval cruise. I will always fondly associate that smell with my Dad. That is just one of many memories that will stay with me forever. On 20 December 2018, my father, Captain James Francis Tidd Sr., USNret, passed away after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Despite the debilitating mental illness, he was in remarkably good physical health and still had his humor, until he suffered a stroke that hampered his ability to breathe.

My dad was a fortunate man, in his interests, career, loves, and family. He may have suffered some setbacks, but carried on and still got to do most of the things he wanted to in life. Often those setbacks he experienced could be attributed to him doing the right thing, standing firm on his moral reading of a situation. Not many people know it, but he may have saved his submarine and crewmates at least a couple of times, but he paid a career price. He wasn’t afraid to take the tougher road.


Much of who he was and became can be found in his love of Scouting. He loved to canoe, sail, shoot, camp, and especially hike, all activities he was introduced to through Scouting. He cherished earning his Eagle rank, probably more than just about anything he later did. He gave back to Scouting. Most likely it led to his lifetime love of nature. He cherished the Keene Valley and the Appalachian Trail. He looked forward to being outdoors, canoeing in the Everglades or on Keystone Lake, rebuilding from bare ribs his Old Towne canoe (he even made me sand and epoxy); oddly enough he loved America’s Intercoastal waterway; he treasured tramping through many trails, avidly supported movements such as Rails-to-Trails, was always experimenting with ways to reduce backpack weight for long hikes and avidly enjoyed sharing his discoveries. This activity earned him the sobriquet “Gadget Man” on the Appalachian Trail. He enjoyed the beauty of natural America and yearned to see as much of it as he could. Part of the reason he ended up in Tennessee was because he wanted to live in a log cabin in the mountains. One only has to look (and boy did we!) at his many photos of hikes and places he found beautiful. Forget watching sports, or even participating in most games; he wanted to be outside.

Another residual love that started with Scouting was his passion for collecting guns; not for hunting, but for sighting and fixing, target shooting (especially black powder), and discovering the history behind his weapons. He spent a couple years in Boy Scout summer camp teaching shooting, and then four years on the USNA pistol team (mostly working on repairing and sighting the guns). He won a couple stars as his team defeated West Point. When he joined the Hillsborough County Sherrif's Department, he was his class's best shot.

He was fortunate in his careers, which can in some ways also hearken back to Scouting, where he got his first taste for the ocean and a lifetime commitment to service over making money. He found some of the best venues to deliver service: Navy, professional Scouting, law enforcement, and even census work. He tried selling insurance for a while, but hated it. I think service was the bedrock of what he wanted to do with his life. He thrived being part of a group. He loved the U. S. Navy, from his early participation in high school, to enlistment (serving first at Jacksonville Naval Air Station) and then working his way up from the fleet to the one place he was meant to study, at Annapolis. Next to his Eagle pin, his Class Ring meant so much to him, both as a reminder of some of the best days of his life, and occasionally as a weapon to remind us kids that we were misbehaving with a rap to our noggins. Mostly he served aboard submarines, but he was also a qualified surface warfare officer as well. He also spent years in the active reserves.

He was fortunate, so much more than most men of his generation, in having two long, loving, successful marriages to women who supported him and accepted him for who he was. Sure, he tripped up occasionally, but I think (as my Mom, Lydia, often said) he was her best friend, and she would forgive him. Our Mom matched him on the trail and campsite, and I think they had some of their best times hiking in the mountains later in their marriage. One of his favorite replies to people when they asked where he met Mom, was "In an insane asylum." Which was literally true, because Dad went to a dance sponsored by the local mental-health hospital where my mother worked as a nurse. Dad said it was love at first sight. He was fortunate again to then have Sharon as he second wife after Mom died. Sharon had been one of Mom's closest friends. Sharon stood by him as this insidious disease robbed him of his memories, and they enjoyed their life in Tennessee and in their travels. Our family owes a major debt of gratitude to her and love her. I think I should also mention that my sister Beth helped in a major way with Dad over the last year or so. Brad and Bobbie too.

Along those lines I think Dad was fortunate in his children. He didn’t have to bury any of us, nor visit us in jail or rehab, or many of the other terrible things that life can bring. I can’t claim too much for myself really, but I know I have really wonderful siblings, and we can thank Dad in large part for that. Dad wasn’t the warm and fuzzy parent, employing teaching methods he knew best from his military training, but he also grew as a parent over time, especially after Mom was gone (I think).

Dad loved life. He was in some ways an Imp, delighting in playing pranks. Not in a bullyish manner; he wanted his victims to have a little fun, to lighten up. He got along with people. He didn’t get mad when a prank was played on him. He almost seemed to enjoy a clever or devilish one, as if “Wow, I should have thought of that.” I will always remember after bit of devilment on my part with Bobbie as the victim, Dad standing in my doorway scolding me for having done so, loudly enough to reassure her that I was getting in trouble, while at the same time doing his very best not to burst out laughing. He loved a good prank.

There are so many other things he enjoyed. Travel. Lamb curry (which he learned to make). Dancing.

Being the eldest child (though by only ten months), Dad and I often disagreed. Kind of normal, I guess. But never once in my almost 59 years with him did I ever doubt that he loved me. Not once. I looked forward to seeing him and hugging him, and I will miss that.
I am certain that an astonished St. Peter had raised eyebrows when Dad arrived, decked out in lederhosen, saying, “Can we hurry this up, there are trails to hike.” And I can also imagine Mom standing there waiting, bandana around her head and walking stick in hand, adding, “Well, it took you long enough. Let’s get cracking.”

So, Happy Trails Dad. I love you and will miss you.