Postcards from Pannonia – a book review & trip report

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(From the book)

“A freedom fighter of the 1956 Hungarian revolution, after over 40 years in the US, and his California-born wife, decide to return to his native land to live. What’s more, they decide to purchase a dilapidated country house-with about 7 acres of land-perched atop a hill in the foothills of the Bakony Mountains, nestled in the middle of an ancient area the Romans called Pannonia. The house sits alone, set apart from the neighboring village of 1,200 souls. The couple is idealistic, brave and – some might say – idiotic to undertake such a task. Of course, the house needs to be renovated and made fit for habitation. Craftsmen and workers need to be found. The work needs supervision. As our hero and heroine are “absentee owners” (living mostly in California), they are people who could easily be taken advantage of by unscrupulous and greedy locals. Country folk often focus on strangers as exotic and wealthy – true or not – and this is especially the case when the “strangers” are viewed as “rich Americans”.

The situation calls for caution and careful planning. Fortunately, a local “good Samaritan”, in the form of a native and pillar of the community, befriends them, comes to their aid time and again, and becomes their guardian angel. Amid seeming chaos and very real trepidation, restoration and refurbishment begins. While progress is far from smooth and continuous, no major disasters occur. Local craftsmen are found who are ably kept in check by Anti, the guardian angel. The skirmishes are numerous and colorful, but the locals (who for some reason concoct the story that the house has been bought by a “famous American film producer”), gradually accept the interlopers.

As time passes and the owners spend more and more time on the property, boundaries come down and friendships are forged. There are invitations and counter-invitations issued and accepted. People offer their generous help with problems otherwise unsolvable. The house is completed. With the assistance of these new-found friends, the adventuresome newcomers plant a vineyard, and now spend over seven months a year in their new paradise. Life is good…  “

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My review …

But first meet the authors – Adam and Aliz

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This review will be a bit different than most. First of all, I had previously read Adam’s memoir Bridging Two Worlds in which he chronicles his Hungarian life from age 7 to about age 18 – World War II through the 1956 Revolution — and then his life in the United States as a non-English speaking refugee, US Navy officer, Stanford graduate and attorney for 35 years.

Secondly, and as a result of discovering this old Navy shipmate through his book, Diana and I visited with the von Dioszeghys’ recently (May 2017). And this visit prompted us to read Postcards when we returned home.

After I finished reading “Postcards … .” I had the same reaction as Diana when she finished the book. I was sad. Saddened  at the loss of your dear friend Lajcsi, and saddened that the book ended.

I must say, the book – their life in Hungary – brought out the multiple personality disorder part of me, and of me as well. Let me explain, and I think Diana will agree.

Reading the many stories after having been there with Adam & Aliz and seeing for ourselves, brought memories flooding back. Memories of so many details that we just weren’t able to appreciate at the time. Details that we simply took for granted such as the awnings over the patio – the stairway up to ‘our room’ and more. At the time, these details were noted, but no more so than had we been in anyone else’s nice home. In other words, expected niceties,  but not unusual.

But then these same memories, illuminated by the many captivating stories, took on an entirely wonderful light in recalling sitting on the terrace sipping wine, enjoying each other’s company and good food. Looking out over the countryside and now imagining the many visits to that same home and terrace by many Sur friends and neighbors such as Anti, Hajni, Kalman and others. 

So the one personality of mine has been enriched greatly by both the experience of being there with them, and now knowing ‘The Rest of the Story.’  And yet  another personality wishes that I would have read the stories before going there. But alas … that would have robbed me of the mystery and magic of the sequence as it actually unfolded. And yet another personality hopes it is possible for a return some day.  

A splendid job — congratulations to Adam & Aliz in capturing so much of life and love. The love shared with each other – the love drawn out in those new friends and neighbors – and the love of life itself they both show, in the small things and in the large.

Once more – thank you so much. Thanks for your hospitality, the fine company – and most of all thanks for drawing us into your lives as dear friends.

Love to you both,

don

Before we get to the many pictures below, here are other articles I have posted:

https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2017/04/08/bridging-two-worlds-a-book-review-2/

https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2017/07/05/reunion/

https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2017/07/06/i-first-visited-hungary/

https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2017/06/05/a-navy-reunion-and-more-a-personal-walk-through-history/

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“Szolohegy”  the name of their home:
About 1 1/2 – 2 hour drive West from Budapest sur_map

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And now just a few (well OK … a lot) pictures. There are many pictures here, but to Diana and I they will hopefully help connect; the two books, our trip there, and our feeble memories (well at least mine.)  

 

Not all our time was spent at the country home. Here are some pictures from Budapest. Adam has an incredible memory and knowledge of Budapest and Hungarian history, and showed us much.

 

We would sure love to go back some day.

 

“I First Visited Hungary”

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The following is an excerpt from a book – Postcards from Pannonia – co-authored by our Hungarian-American friend Aliz von Dioszeghy.

“When I first visited Hungary in 1989, right before the change in political systems, the people I saw on the street looked down-trodden. Clerks in shops were surly and unhelpful, service in restaurants was non-existent, and there were no flowers in window boxes, such as I saw in Austria and Germany, I really didn’t like it very much.  By 2000, however, things were hopping. People were smiling and hopeful, buildings were being cleaned and repaired, clerks were nicer, and waiters were a little more willing to work for their tip. There were even window boxes! Once the promise of spring arrived, the windows started to be filled with red geraniums. Back then, only red geraniums were available. Happily, now you can get every type and color of geranium, but in 2000 red was still the only color. I don’t know why, although I suspect that people simply didn’t think about other possibilities. After years of shortages under the communist regime, they were accustomed to making do with what was available, and the shops didn’t offer a choice. Now that there is a little more money around, the shops have started to display not only different colors, but many different varietals of the common germanium. I would even say that here in Hungary there seems to be more of a choice in flowers than I would find in California! Hungarians have traditionally loved flowers and plants, and now that the possibilities seem to be endless, they are filling window boxes with colorful blooms.”

This short synopsis captures very vividly the destructive effects of “statism” on the average person living under the thumb of totalitarian rule.  We have seen such contrasts ourselves as Diana and I have traveled through Europe and into the former captive states of the Soviet Union just a few years following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In a single day of driving on the autobahn from Berlin in the old East Germany, through the countryside of old East Germany and through West Germany to Hamburg, we saw what Aliz describes about Hungary. We saw countless examples, in the city and the country-side, of the grey colorless landscape of communism.  We also saw, in that same day of driving, the beautiful homes, gardens, farms and flowers of the free West Germany.

The message? “It’s not mine – I don’t care!”

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“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same, or one day we will spend our sunset years telling our children and our children’s children what it was once like in the United States where men were free“
                                                    Ronald Reagan

 

Note: Aliz von Dioszeghy was born and raised in Californian and lived much of her adult life in the San Francisco Bay area until she and her husband Adam retired and moved to Adam’s native land of Hungary. Adam fled Hungary in 1956 as a result of the revolution against communist rule.

Don Johnson – July 2017

REUNION

REUNION

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by Adam von Dioszeghy

Reunion. The word conjures up school gatherings 10, 20, 50 years after graduation. Old schoolmates getting together to talk about old times….the times of youth; the girl everybody pined for, who eventually ended up marrying a loser; the sporting event that was almost won, but for the demonic referee’s outrageous ruling. After all that’s been discussed, the topic turns to present ailments: this week THIS hurts, last week THAT hurt. After the reunion weekend is over, everybody goes home thinking, “Gee, I don’t look near as bad as some of them do..” [self-foolery is still the best medicine]. And five years later, this charade is repeated all over again…at least by those still around.

Not all reunions are school reunions. Some are for sport clubs or teams, remembering and discussing the great victories and mourning those close losses…and now, making notes of the big bellies some other mates have acquired. There are all sorts of other reunions, not very different.

And – lest we forget – there are military reunions: members of companies, battalions, units, ships, squadrons, whatever. These can have extra significance if war times were shared by the participants; the reunions of those who managed to dodge death, who managed to survive through skill, luck and the
grace of God. Often, the ties in these groups are stronger than those in other groups. This story is about one of these reunions, which is yet to come, but is already casting a long shadow.

The participants of this reunion – just two – have to look back over 50 years to the time when fate brought them together: they fought in the Vietnam War in the 1960s. They were young titans then, and now they are in their 70s. But let us approach the subject gingerly and with due care.

Fate brought these two people together on a United States Navy warship, a destroyer, the USS Porterfield (DD682). One of them was an enlisted man – a fire control technician (FT) – while the other was an officer, a Lieutenant junior  grade. The FT was 21 years old, the officer was 27. Lets’ give them names: the FT was called Don Johnson, the Ltjg. was called Adam von Dioszeghy…to all those on board the ship he was known as “Mr. vonD”. They served together from 1965 through 1966. Then their ways parted and neither heard from the  other for decades.

I – the erstwhile “Mr. vonD” – after leaving the Porterfiled and the Vietnam War, went to Stanford Law School, graduated, passed the bar exam, taught law, dabbled in prosecuting, and ended up practicing law in the San Francisco Bay Area for 40 years. Then, in 2000, my wife, Aliz, and I moved to Hungary to begin a new life there. Though I spent a lot of time thinking and talking about my ship, the Navy and the War, I basically left all that behind.
With the exception of a couple of my fellow officers – with whom I kept in touch very occasionally – the Porterfield and all it meant, faded from my memory. That all changed when Aliz received an e-mail, in January, 2016, as follows:

“Hello Mrs. von Dioszeghy, I hope you get this message, and I hope I have the right people to send this to. I was in the Navy back in 1965-66, on board the USS Porterfield (DD682) and at one of my General Quarters stations in a place called IC-Plot was this crazy guy, LTJG Adam von Dioszeghy, who was the officer in charge in that space and the guy that actually pulled the gun triggers. I was an FT Seaman at the time and made FT3rd class on the Porterfiled. If he is the guy, it would be great to say hello once more after all these years.

                                  Don Johnson”

The memories came rushing back: the Navy, the Porterfield, the Vietnam War, IC-Plot….

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….the sharp lines of the graceful grey lady – the Porterfiled – come crystallyzing out of the misty fog of fifty-odd-years memory in my mind.
Commands and acknowledgements are flying back and forth on the bridge:

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“Now secure the Special Sea and Anchor Detail…set regular watch section four ………………… Mr. vonD has the Deck and the Conn…

“Aye, aye, I have the Deck and the Conn…All engines ahead standard, indicate 15 knots…Aye, aye Sir, all engines are ahead standard, indicating 15  knots…Very well…

“Right full rudder, come right to 052 degrees….Aye, aye Sir, the rudder is right full, coming right to 052 degrees….Very well.” 

…. It is now 1966, and the Porterfield is “on station”, engaged with the enemy. Presently, we are supporting US Marine ground troops with our naval guns. We are lying close to shore and firing our guns inland to help the Marines who have no artillery support close enough to fight off the onrushing VC (Viet Cong) and RNV (Regular North-Vietnamese Army). We are in modified General Quarters condition, which means that personnel have to stand “6 hours on, 6 hours off” watches in  their wartime positions. My position is officer-in- charge in the IC-Plot.

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What is IC-Plot? It is a space amidships, full of equipment and communication devices. There are 8-10 people at this station, all working together, with one officer in charge. The main piece of equipment is the “computer”. Those of you in Generations X or Y (that is, born after 1965), will have a gross misconception when you read the word, “computer”. The Porterfield was built in 1943 (essentially to fight in WWII), and its equipment is of that vintage. Thus, when we speak of computers on it, we mean something entirely different than an IBM piece or something more modern.

This computer is a huge, heavy item, taking up most of IC-Plot, sitting in the middle, with 6-7 people standing around it. It has cranks and dials; it’s main function is to regulate the position of the guns….the elevation and the direction. It also functions to keep the guns properly aimed regardless of the roll or pitch of the ship. The act of firing a gun takes place here and not in the gun mounts. The IC-Plot crew is in communication with the Marine spotter on the ground, who gives direction as to where to put the next high explosive shell. The communication goes something like this:

Marine spotter (MS): “Porterfield, add a 100” (meaning the shell should go 100 yards further), or  MS: “Porterfiled, right 50” (meaning the shell should go 50 yards to the right).

Then, the enlisted man dials in the change, and the guns respond accordingly….
One hopes! This goes on for 6 hours until the watch is changed and another crew takes over. Seems simple, doesn’t it, you say as you suppress a yawn.

Before we decide whether or not to agree with that supposition, a few things need to  be considered. The first is that the ship is in full wartime mode, meaning that all watertight doors are “dogged down” (meaning, locked). In practicality this means no outside air. Secondly, since it’s summer time in Vietnam, the temperature outside is about 100 degrees F (41C) in the shade, and in the enclosed space of IC-Plot it is 122F (50C). Thirdly, the ship is firing 5″38cal shells (which can reach 9 miles), and which land sometimes within 30-50 yards of our own troops. Any mistake in the aiming will cost several lives through what is euphemistically called “friendly fire”.  To a loved one it makes precious little difference whether a husband/father/son was killed by the enemy or your own kind. Any mistake can be deadly.

To sum up, standing in 122F heat, in a closed space for 6 hours and firing high explosive shells into close proximity of your comrades requires total concentration, and it is very taxing, if not totally exhausting. Therefore, perhaps, it’s not quite like a walk in the park on a Sunday afternoon.

So here we were, Don Johnson, myself and the others, day in and day out, standing our 6 hour watches together. The thirst was killing everybody in that heat. We played a little game to see how long it took for the water that one drank to turn into perspiration and spring out of the skin on the arm; it  was something like 18 seconds. Finally, one of the “old salts” – a Navy Chief – on watch with us taught us a trick. He said, “Don’t drink water, it just comes right out of you! Drink hot coffee and it will cool you down”, he said. We were incredulous, but we tried it. And, sure enough, he was right: the hot coffee DID cool us down. I have practiced this piece of knowledge on hot days ever since,
and it has worked.

Our unit in IC-Plot melded together, and we functioned as a well-oiled machine. We destroyed a lot of enemy troops and never had a mishap of firing onto our own Marines. God was looking out for us. And – eventually – the war ended for each of us, and civilian life beckoned. Decades passed, until the email I wrote about above.

Don Johnson and I corresponded for the next year and a half with some frequency. Don wrote me that there are reunions for the Porterfield from time to time. The last one was in the Fall of 2016, in San Diego. He attended it, and met up with some old shipmates, including one Jack Hix, who was also a member of the IC-Plot crew. Sadly, I was unable to attend the reunion, but was fully briefed on it by Don, including pictures and even a video.

Mr vonD

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Part of our IC-Plot team

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And us 50 some years later

The Porterfield is, alas!, no more. It lies at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, having been used as a target for torpedo practice by submarines. As a former anti-submarine officer, it pains me to think about the role reversal. But, perhaps, it is more fitting for it to have been sunk, doing its “duty”, than to have been cut up and sold for scrap-metal or transferred to some foreign
country.

But, back to the subject of the reunion. Some months ago, Don and his wife, Diana, decided that, included in their next European trip, would be a visit to Hungary, and the renewal of the old friendship. Or, perhaps, “old  friendship” is the wrong phrase: officers and enlisted men were not allowed to fraternize” … so, our relationship on the Porterfield was “comradeship”. Plans were made and put into place: the Johnsons would arrive into Budapest by plane on May 25, and would spend about a week with us, in Budapest and at our country house.

Today, I received an email that they left their home in New Haven, Connecticut for the first leg of their trip, which would take them to
Scandinavia where Don’s roots are. Excitement is high on both sides. The reunion is coming!

It was all against Navy regulations. First, both sailors saluted simultaneously, instead of the enlisted man saluting the officer first. Secondly, neither had covers on their heads, a gross violation. In their defense, they were very excited (not having seen each other for over 50 years), but most importantly, they were no longer the property of the US Navy … they was free!
They was right-proper civilians. And, of course, the hug that followed would have surely resulted in a court-martial: fraternizing between an officer and an enlisted man!?! No matter, the reunion had begun!!

When an event is upcoming, and you really have no idea how it will go, it always gives a challenge to your mind. You can have great expectations – based  on nothing – or you can worry that it will be a disaster. In our case, here were the knowns: Don and I have not seen each other for over 50 years; neither Aliz nor I have ever met Diana; Don and Diana have never met Aliz. What can you truly expect? I – being a closet optimist – thought it would go “OK”. To eliminate any further suspense, let me tell you that the get-together was FABULOUS. Beyond all expectations. Now, let’s get into the meat- and- potatoes of it.

The Johnsons arrived by plane, late in the evening, and checked into their hotel. We picked them up at ten-ish the next morning. We traveled to our country house by our car, had a fantastic lunch there, drank everything that was alcoholic, and started to get to know one another. We were blessed with fabulous weather throughout the visit. The skies were clear and blue, the winds were only wafting about, and the temperature was around 75F (25C). At the country house, I cooked my signature Hungarian gulyas – in a kettle over an open fire – and we talked about the last 50 years. The wives got along famously…which is no mean thing, considering that the only thing initially in common between them was the fact that they were both married to “Navy men”. It was fascinating to learn that Don and Diana had been married for over 53 years (!); in fact, they were married before Don joined the crew of the Porterfiled in 1965.

After a couple of days, we went back to Budapest to show the Johnsons “our” city. We covered a lot of ground in the next four days. Aliz and I showed them everything that would fit into this tight schedule: items of historical interest, places of particular beauty, and things uniquely “Hungarian”. We also ate and drank excellent Hungarian meals and drinks, especially good Hungarian wines. One day, Aliz took the Johnsons to the famous Gellert Baths, an experience worth having by any standard. But the integral part of our daily
routine was the laughter, the stories, the jokes and the camaraderie which – by then – came completely naturally to us all. It was as if we had not only known each other for decades, but saw each other with some frequency over that time.

The last night we had dinner at a lovely place built atop a man-made lake in the City Park. To set the tone, the restaurant was called “Robinson” (after Robinson Crusoe, the shipwrecked sailor). We watched the ducks on the lake, enjoyed the refreshing sight of the fountains shooting water up into the air, and saw the sun set on our final day. As we took our guests back to their hotel to say our farewells, Diana expressed all our feelings when she said – with tears in her eyes – “This is the hard part.”

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Porterfield warriors with the ship’s official plaque

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Old shipmates sharing a drink and a few sea stories

She was right. The four strangers of a week earlier had molded into a unit, a unit one could sincerely call, “FRIENDS”. This was no longer just a reunion of two long-separated shipmates, but a gathering of four people who
very much grew to be intimate in many things: values, beliefs, interests. We all regretted that we lived so far from one another. And the two aged warriors (no longer aging but aged), while still finding common ground of their long – passed experiences on the old Porterfield, found that they have both learned
much about life through hardship, understanding, perseverance, wonderful mates, love and God. How can you do all that in one week? And still have time for fun? A tall order, you say? Just ask the Johnsons and the von Dioszeghys.

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The long-suffering wives get to have at least a little fun

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One could say they have aged gracefully

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Here’s to friendship & camaraderie – no matter the miles or years between!

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A few final notes from Don:

Science denialism poses a serious threat to human health and the long-term sustainability of human civilization. — Oh Really?

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(Click on the image for more)

The first sentence (below) in this abstract from a supposed science organization sends cold chills up my spine. It reads as follows, click on the sentence to read the complete abstract.  

“Science denialism poses a serious threat to human health and the long-term sustainability of human civilization. …”

This takes me back to 2009 shortly after my wife and I moved from the west coast to the east coast. We were back in California visiting friends and were visiting over breakfast one morning with friends from 40+ years back. In reminiscing over the past year apart, I mentioned to Roger that I had attended a couple of Tea Party events recently.  This set Roger off, and he proceeded to tell me that he considered the Tea Party to be a “terrorist” organization, and in fact he had written to the Department of Homeland Security recommending to them that they add Tea Party to the list of “terrorist’ organizations. I dismissed this at first as just some of Roger’s boisterous liberal ranting which we was wont to do “Bill Gates is the Devil Incarnate and Microsoft is the Evil Empire”  was one of his talking points back then.

But as this conversation churned in me over the time that followed, it really began to bother me.

The Tea Party – me – terrorists? I remembered the four high jacked airliners slamming into those buildings in in New York City and into the Pentagon. I remembered seeing the pictures and videos of people falling and jumping from great heights. I remember seeing the beheadings of Nick Berg and Daniel Pearl. But the Tea Party – Me? I know terrorism when I see it, and I know terrorists when I see what they do. I am not a terrorist nor is/was the Tea Party.

But the damage was done. Roger would not back down, retract or apologize for what by then I considered to be outlandish and slanderous talk. A good friendship of 40 years was shattered on the rocks of vicious name calling and vilification.

Then I started to notice that Roger was not alone in this slander. Other notable high ranking governmental officials, news and entertainment personalities began with the same line of talk. I’ve documented this on earlier blog posts such as https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2011/08/04/tea-party-terrorists/ and elsewhere so I won’t revisit at this point.

And by now in 2016/2017 of course it has gotten much worse. That’s why I am alarmed at this article from ScienceDirect with the accusation that people like me are “ … a threat to human health and the long-term sustainability of human civilization.”  Good grief, now I’m not just a terrorist, but one who will bring down all of human civilization?

I chose the picture at the top of this post as a form of my own name calling. And the name calling I chose to use as a counter to the mind set and world view presented by this corrupted view of science as espoused by ScienceDirect is Book Burning. Book Burning as practiced under German Nazism was very direct – physically confiscate those books you disagree with and burn them in a very public manner.  Today’s Book Burning is accomplished to a large degree by the strangle hold that Atheistic/Materialists hold over academia and the popular science reporting media, in particular the so-called “science” of Evolutionary Biology and now the dooms-day science called Climate Science.  

There is much controversy over Evolution and its role in the origin, development and sustainment of life on our planet – in spite of what you may read or hear in the popular media. And there is little scientific evidence that random mutations and natural selection had or have a part in this wonderful thing we call life.  Oh you may hear of the “mountain of evidence” supporting the evolution “just so” stories, but you will find that improbable mountain described by such as Richard Dawkins to be made of Papier-mâché, French for “chewed paper.”  

And if you want to experience some of the worst name calling and vilification, try countering the evolution only mind set in places like the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). I’ve been there offering counters to their world view with evidences from a different perspective – that of Intelligent Design. The push back to me was brutal, but very seldom backed with evidence or any reasoned argument – but much vile name calling.

On a final note I again revisit those times beginning in 2009. I saw and read the blossoming of name calling and vilification emanating from the political and cultural left against the Conservative Christian world view, and I greatly feared what my grandchildren may come to believe about their grandfather. So I began blogging in earnest in hopes of leaving a written record of who I was and what I believed. Has it been successful? Much to early to tell, though I can tell you that my oldest grandson has delved into my blog and I see some signs of him perhaps understanding where I am coming from. He has found himself taking perhaps an unexpected and unwanted in-depth lesson in that cruel and harsh world called the “school of hard knocks” and he seems to have graduated from there – and perhaps I’ve been able to contribute to that graduation. 

So in closing, I recommend that when you read such articles having a “scientific” veneer, do some serious research and thinking of your own and come to your own conclusion. I’m not asking you to be a scientist, I’m asking you to separate the science from the propaganda.

 

Don Johnson – June 2017

USS Fitzgerald DDG-62 Collision at sea

 

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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4612334/USS-Fitzgerald-involved-collision-merchant-vessel.html

An excerpt from the article:
” … An Alabama woman says her grandson contacted her from the USS Fitzgerald to say he’s OK after a nighttime collision off Japan left seven crew members missing and three injured.
Rita Schrimsher of Athens, Alabama, tweeted: “Just heard the sweetest voice and saw a wonderful face. He’s okay. Thank you all for the prayers.”
She says: “It could have been worse so we’re grateful.”

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That comment from a grandmother is the reason why I titled my book “I Didn’t Want To Worry You Mom … (But sometimes it got a little scary and dangerous out there!)”
I was a sailor during the 1960s on a WW-II vintage destroyer – they are often called “tin cans” because of their small size and non-existent armor.
I was witness to a collision off the California coast in the 1960s between a large freighter and a large oiler. We were a three ship formation taking on fuel from the oiler – two destroyers on either side of the oiler steaming at about 12 knots in calm seas, but patchy fog conditions.
My job in UnRep (Underway Replenishment) was to help pull the fuel lines over from the oiler to our ship. When that was done I was free to go below and take a nap, which I did on this occasion. My rack was in the forward part of the ship directly below and behind he foreword most gun mount.
I was abruptly awakened from my nap by the shuddering of the ship and the clanging collision alarm. The shuddering was from us cutting away from the oiler and backing down as fast as we could.
I jumped out of my rack and climbed the forward ladder to the bow of the ship. I gazed off to my right and saw this huge (not as big as todays container ships) cargo ship coming out of the fog and crossing directly across our three ship refueling formation. The other destroyer had likewise cut away from the oiler and with a full left rudder was racing away. This left the oiler and the freighter on a collision course, and I saw it unfold in real-time slow motion. The oiler had no maneuvering space and was too massive to slow its momentum, and the freighter made no observable attempt to maneuver – as I recall, we could see no human activity on the bridge of that freighter as if it may have been on auto-pilot.
They hit. The oiler center punched the freighter right below the bridge and the two ships bounced off one another, again in slow motion.
The collision punched a large hole in the freighter and caused it to list substantially to starboard. Fortunately it did not capsize, and the hole was above the waterline and there seemed little fear of it going over and under.
Back to my book. As I became passionate about such at-sea experiences such as my own and others I read and heard about first hand, I recalled seeing a documentary of a destroyer that was cut in half during WW-II. I eventually found the documentary on the USS Murphy DD-603, and how it was cut in half as it was escorting a large convoy to England in 1943.
The Murphy story became the anchor story of my book, but I soon found out that Murphy’s story was not unique and I discovered other stories of collisions. The USS Frank Evans DD-754, again a destroyer, was cut in half in 1969 by the Australian aircraft carrier Melbourne with the loss of 27 sailors who went down with the forward part of their ship.
I was reminded vividly by both Murphy and Evans, that my bunk that day off the California coast was in the bow of my ship – the bows that took sailors to the bottom on both those destroyers..
The book began to take on a life of its own as I discovered more stories where the sailors (and a few soldiers) involved “Didn’t Want To Worry You Mom … “
I invite you to look at my book and a 20 minute video I put together of some of the things our war fighters, and their loved ones at home, face on a regular basis. The USS Fitzgerald DD-62 is the latest such story, and we mourn the sailors lost in that tragedy – they remain “on watch” in the defense of liberty.

 

The video is here:
watch-v=sloZqBsalZc
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The book is here:
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Don Johnson – June 2017

Does Science Argue For Or Against God

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Often times in reading arguments for/against Intelligent Design, Darwinism, Evolution, Creation, Irreducible Complexity etc. I get the feeling I’m reading arguments on how many angels are, or are not, dancing on the head of some pin.
Then once in awhile something comes along that’s simple and intuitive that speaks to my heart, mind and soul. The following video is such a time.
Watch the man’s reaction to a part of vision he was unable to experience prior. We see an immediate reaction, an immediate knowing, and immediate appreciation. No lengthy scientific/theological arguments necessary … no books to read or college courses to take … no experts to consult. His eyes see it immediately and then his whole being understands it.
Beautiful … take a look.
https://www.facebook.com/NTDTelevision/videos/1986628964712537/

And this —

Does Science Argue for or against God-

 

Don Johnson – June 2017

The Blessings Of Hearing

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I have been generally blessed over the years (73) with good health. But like all of us, on occasion parts of my body complain and spread frustration or worse in areas where such complaints have no business being. These complaints  often spread outwards and seek to spoil relationships with those around us … family, friends and others.

Hearing loss is one such complaint, and mine has been in a state of decay for quite some time now, and plays a part in the deterioration of my ability to participate in conversation.

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Further to these thoughts, let me now shift to a more academic/scientific vein and share my joy and the marvel of the hearing experience.  

A year or so back I wrote an article I’ve Grown Accustomed To Your Face at https://ayearningforpublius.wordpress.com/2013/12/17/ive-grown-accustomed-to-your-face/ Here is an excerpt from that article:

“ … We walk into a crowded and noisy room full of mostly strangers and unfamiliar heads bobbing up and down. Then off to the side and slightly behind we hear and recognize a familiar voice … we turn our head searching for that old friend we know is there, and after a short search … there she is, head slightly turned away from our view, but recognizable none-the-less. We are surprised and pleased to meet our old friend once more after some number of years and begin renewing the friendship.

The recognition of the voce and face is instinctive and very quick; and we take it for granted with no thoughts of anything unusual other than the mere co-incidence of the meeting. … “

The article deals with the pattern recognition capability designed and  embedded in each of us by our Creator (yes, there is one.)

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Then just the other day I ran across another interesting article, again from the Discovery Institute, titled Mammals Compute Sound Timing in the Microsecond Range at https://evolutionnews.org/2017/06/mammals-compute-sound-timing-in-the-microsecond-range/.

This article deals with the incredible sophistication and design associated with animals being able to determine, with great precision, the direction of incoming sounds.  Here is an excerpt from the article:

“ … Our brief look into the complexity of auditory localization in mammals provides a good example of not only Behe’s irreducible complexity, but also what Douglas Axe calls functional coherence, “the hierarchical arrangement of parts needed for anything to produce high-level function — each part contributing in a coordinated way to the whole” (Undeniable, p. 144). None of these parts (MSO, myelin, synapses) perform sound localization individually, but collectively, they do.

We could explore the hierarchy further by looking more closely at how molecular machines within the neuron cells participate in the “functional whole” of sound localization. Taking the wide-angle view, we see how all the lower levels in the hierarchy contribute to the bat’s amazing ability to catch food on the wing. Functional coherence is not just beyond the reach of chance (Axe, p. 160), it provides positive evidence for intelligent design. In all our uniform human experience, only minds are capable of engineering complex, hierarchical systems exhibiting functional coherence. The complexity of this one circuit — sound localization — makes that loud and clear. … “

So here we have it, in two scientific articles, studies and descriptions of how we can accurately determine the location of that familiar voice in a crowded room,  and associate that sound with a memory from the past.

But better yet, hear it sung by the great Dean Martin at https://youtu.be/yhaho1aAraM 

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Design in life and nature is a wonderful thing.  My hope is that you will seek this designer, this Creator.

 

Don Johnson – June 2017