hobiejoe (Still in the tunnel, looking for the light.)
May 18, 2013 - 2:17pm
33 years ago today, not too far from where I am now....
It's interesting to talk to people who lived here then, and how the whole region looked for days afterward with the ash and smoke and dark cloud hanging over.
Mt St Helens was one of my highlights of our trip last year, we went up to the eastern rim and had a great lecture from a Ranger. We had a chat and got talking about the guy who took those four famous 'photo's and survived to tell the tale.
Apparently he hangs out at the Rangers lodge a mile or two back down from the rim, and is always keen to chat. Sadly poor Nancy developed a nasty heat rash so we couldn't stop to say hello, which was a shame as seeing those pictures in the National Geographic all those years ago helped fuel my love of geography and geology.
This was from the edge of the area affected by the blast, with trees killed by the heat of the pyroclastic flow, but left standing - seventeen miles from the crater:
I bought a '59 Rambler Station Wagon that had been near the eruption. Every nook and cranny of that car was crammed with ash and small pieces of pumice. It even got into places that were pretty well sealed.
The math doesn't look right, but I remember it very well. I had to travel a couple of day later and my normal routes were closed.
I've ridden up there several times since. This is how it looks up there now.
The only time I actually went up there was in 1999 and I was really impressed with how much of Yellowstone had come back a decade after the fires and how desolate that place was nearly twenty years on. Might as well change the avatar too.
This particular May 17th of which I speak is a lovely day indeed in Manhattan. And this being 1792 and New York being the new capital of the new U.S., there are many citizens out and about to catch the spring airs. And more than a few of them are milling about a very popular joint, just off Wall Street, called the Merchants Coffee House. Personally, I believe this establishment owes its popularity less to its famous cheesecake (which is rather okay for NYC) and more to the beverage in its name. For, while they actually do much of their beverage traffic in liquids other than coffee, it is quite helpful, upon arriving home, to be able to declaim to "she who suspects everything" that you have had a tough day at the Coffee House. (Somehow, even in 1792, "Honey, I had a tough day at the Ale House" smacks of underperformance.) Another feature of this bistro is one that I particularly like. They have a table and bench on the lawn, under a large Buttonwood Tree. So, I am headed there on this particular morning for a flagon or two of "coffee". However, before I can eyeball Priscilla to bring me the usual, I find 24 citizens around this outdoor bench, which I fancy somewhat. These 2 dozen gents are folks of some substance (both physically and financially) so I hold back a bit before claiming my usual spot. It is then that I see that one of the 24 gents is a merchant and fellow "coffee" drinker whom I know as "Verily, Verily". He gets this tag because this is what he says whenever a client doubts his word. (This happens so frequently that he repeats the phrase so often that whenever a citizen sees him, said citizen immediately says - "Verily, Verily".) Anyway, "Verily, Verily" says to me - "Art, do you have perhaps a spare $200 with which to join this venture?" He then explains that each of these merchants puts up $200 apiece to join something they will call "The New York Stock and Exchange Board". "Verily, Verily" says the boys think this is a very good investment for several reasons: 1) A guy named Napoleon Bonaparte was at this time making all European Bonds as unpredictable as a turf race in a rainstorm; 2) Certain gents were making plans for various ventures like canal companies and private turnpikes. Well, these are nice thoughts indeed but personally even if I have $200 (a very unlikely event), I do not see much vig in this Stock Exchange idea. "But" says "Verily, Verily", "do not scoff, for a story goes with it" (over the years I learn this can often be a very expensive sentence). It seems these guys are onto a deal that a certain Alexander Hamilton has cooked up. He wishes to change the large revolutionary debt into Publick Stock. The aforementioned debt is such a palooka that many citizens shun these "Continentals" as having very little value. In fact in graffiti school, kids are writing "Not worth a Continental" on walls and such. In further fact, this colonial money is so bad that almost all business is done using a Viennese coin, somewhat like the Spanish "pieces of eight" (called "the Thaler" at this time but with a NYC accent it is pronounced "dollar" and this is where this word comes from. P.S. - said coin is cut like a pizza so you can break off an eighth or 12 1/2 cents. If you broke off 2 such "bits" you have a quarter - get it.)
Anyway, Hamilton is having difficulty getting the votes he needs to convert to Publick Stock. So he strikes a deal with a certain Thomas Jefferson who wishes to move the U.S. capital to Virginia (to be closer to home). And to prove they were honest, these two citizens decide to build said capital on some swampland owned by a gent named George Washington. Anyway, the deal is struck and suddenly there is lots of Publick Stock to be traded on the New York Stock Exchange. Naturally, shy the $200, I miss out on the Buttonwood Agreement but I sign up shortly thereafter and am here since then. Another day, I'll explain why they call it "a seat" when everybody stands up at the Stock Exchange.
Do you remember what the Galicians said when they saw the Battle Of Britain Flight when they arrived during Regatta? They wondered why we celebrated war machines. I said that they, and in particular the Spitfire and Hurricane, were what stood between us and fascism, that they stood between us and our own Guernica.
It still made me think - especially when considering Bomber Command's tactic of area bombing of German cities - that the line between acceptable and unacceptable force, between a just and unjust war has always been very, very fluid and that history always favours the victors.
Time to re-read Slaughterhouse Five, I think.
indeed, I had reflected. I'm not sue how many people died but it will have been a lot ( cnhecked, 1600 drowned apparently) . I always thought the point was that although it was all repaired within months that was because it was very important and the effort of making the repairs took focus away from other areas. You should ask Noenz for a different view on the accaeptability of what they did perhaps.
That was the hook - I think that they go on to suggest that it might actually have been very effective, not just in the physical destruction of the dams and infrastucture downstream, but also in more subtle ways, such as the flooding of mine workings, the diversion of labour (and of course this would have been slave labour) from other projects and the interruption of carefully planned industrial processes - after all, the dams were providing power to the factories that produced the Tiger tanks and the Messerschmitts. Â And the Nazi's would also be constantly wondering were else they might be hit. Â I think, on balance, from a not very academic viewpoint, that the raids worked. But I'm also a romantic at heart. Â
damn, I was going to post this. Drew a tear when I heard a piece about it on the radio when I was driving home.
Are we twins?
Ah, no there's the musical taste thing. I'm listening to the Kooks!
hobiejoe (Still in the tunnel, looking for the light.)
May 15, 2013 - 5:28pm
Yes, got sidetracked before I could read the BBC's article on that today. I think they were positing that it wasn't really all that damaging to the Germans.
That was the hook - I think that they go on to suggest that it might actually have been very effective, not just in the physical destruction of the dams and infrastucture downstream, but also in more subtle ways, such as the flooding of mine workings, the diversion of labour (and of course this would have been slave labour) from other projects and the interruption of carefully planned industrial processes - after all, the dams were providing power to the factories that produced the Tiger tanks and the Messerschmitts.
And the Nazi's would also be constantly wondering were else they might be hit.
I think, on balance, from a not very academic viewpoint, that the raids worked. But I'm also a romantic at heart.