1. In the summer of 1990 when I spent three weeks in England visiting the Upper Heyford Air Force base (then a host to USAF squadrons as well as RAF fliers) I got an incentive ride on a F-111. The weather that day was cloudy and foggy, but we were able to do a bit of low level flying around a few castles. The highlight was going supersonic over the Atlantic, I have a picture of the airplane’s mach meter just over mach 1. I need to scan that picture and post it to Flickr, I will do that sometime in 2007. When you are in an aircraft going supersonic, you can’t tell any difference– at least with aircraft now built for such speeds. The shock wave created is behind the aircraft, so you don’t feel it. That was one of the coolest things I’ve ever done.
2. I was accepted and selected to join the US Foreign Service as a political officer in 1996 or 1997, but turned down the offer. I think I have the acceptance letter somewhere in the boxes that still fill our garage after our move from Texas to Oklahoma. I had applied for the Foreign Service in 1995 after I got out of the Air Force. The process for entry is pretty extensive. I passed the written test and went to an interview held in Dallas, but wasn’t selected that first year. (Only a few people at each F2F interview are extended offers.) The next year, in ’96, I again passed the written test and went to an interview held in Washington D.C. That provided a great opportunity for my wife and I (recently married) to visit the D.C. area and stay with some good friends of mine I met when I lived in Mexico City for one year in 92-93, Vern and Mary Sue Conaway, the parents of one of my USAFA classmates. I think that was in the fall of ’96 or the spring of ’97. It was really a thrill to get an offer to join the foreign service, especially as a political officer (which was my first choice from the available options), but by that time I’d completed my teacher certification program and had decided to become an elementary classroom teacher. I’m glad I made that choice, I have loved being a teacher and a professional educator and not really ever regretted that decision. Plus, if I worked for the government as either an Air Force officer or a foreign service officer, it’s doubtful I’d be able to blog so freely. And I LOVE blogging! 🙂
3. I think I am related by marriage to the pirate Jean Lafitte. My mom could fill in the exact genealogical details. My mother was born in Shreveport, Louisiana, and her ancestors on her father’s side are/were Cajuns. The only thing I remember hearing about Lafitte was that he assisted the U.S. forces in the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812. As I recall from history classes and my own readings, the War of 1812 was officially over by the time the Battle of New Orleans was fought (and so the battle was therefore actually not necessary,) but because of communications delays of the era that “news” had not reached New Orleans before the battle was fought. I think it is amazing to learn about events like this. We seem to take instantaneous communication for granted today, but the fact is it’s a very new phenomenon. The first transcontinental railroad was completed just in 1869. In historical terms, that is like yesterday. 🙂
4. I think my love for communication technologies and the “magic” of technology comes in part from my grandfather, Richard Dean Henley. I remember growing up that he’d always have our huge console, tube-based television open and work on adjusting its components to improve the picture quality during the Christmas holidays when he and my grandmother (Grammy) came to visit. He eventually become a real estate agent in Abilene, Texas, but worked for the US Signal Corps during World War II and worked on the Manhattan Project at the secret base in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. He was a long-time Ham radio operator and loved meeting and talking with people around the world. If he was still alive, I’m sure he’d be thrilled to see what has become possible via Skype, the Internet, and the read/write web. I miss him and wish I could have known him better before he died in 1983. I was just 13 then.
5. I have a mole on my left hand and one on my right hand that somehow, became my way of differentiating left and right growing up. I always wondered how other people did this, who didn’t have moles on their hands.
Thanks for the idea for this meme, gentlemen, and thanks Susan, for encouraging Doug to start this thread… Amazing what connections can be made through blogging activities like this. It’s a small world! 🙂
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