Category Archives: Diversity

Did the iPhone Change Your World? A Twitter Conversation continued:

In anticipation of the 5th Anniversary tomorrow of the introduction of the iPhone; there has been a lot of hype and retrospective pieces on what the iPhone has done.  At least two of those pieces claimed the iPhone changed the world.

Then in the Twitterverse here in the Wichita area a conversation developed.  @BaileyBlair posted one of those items.  So I read it. Then @seancamore disagreed.  And the tweet fest was on.  Later on @MWestMillennial entered to convo.

Interesting convo’s when you are limited to 140 characters.  Short, sweet, abbreviated.  Fun, but not really the type of writing I’ve enjoyed over the years.  So I thought I continue the conversation here on my blog.

I have attempted to reconstruct the conversation from my timeline and from my Mention Page below:  Read it and then my comments.

@seancamore>>
@BaileyBlair @EESavers Whatever. The WORLD has not changed. The way we communicate MAYBE but even then, only for participants.
 
@EESavers
The world we live and work in has changed. Speed of Communications! @seancamore: @BaileyBlair @EESavers Whatever. The WORLD has not changed.
 
@EESavers
“Our lives and our bodies respond to the stimulus around us. @seancamore: @BaileyBlair @EESavers Whatever. The WORLD has not changed.
 
@seancamore
@EESavers @BaileyBlair As per my original Tweet the way we communicate has. The world has NOT. Namaste.
 
@EESavers
@seancamore @baileyblair When people change their response to the people around them, the world has changed. Speed of Comm causes change.
 
@seancamore
The way we respond to faster comm. changed, the world changed. @seancamore: @BaileyBlair As / Twt the way we comm has. The world has NOT.
 
@BaileyBlair
@seancamore @EESavers I concur. There was abundant asshattery before technology, we just didn’t broadcast it so loudly.
 
@seancamore
@EESavers @baileyblair No. Regimes and currencies falling change the world. The tactics for/speed of sharing that news don’t.
 
@seancamore
@EESavers @baileyblair You are not going to convince me. No communications tool since the first trans-Atlantic cable has changed the world.
 
@EESavers
@seancamore @baileyblair When people change their response to the people around them, the world has changed. Speed of Comm causes change.
 
@seancamore
@EESavers @baileyblair Right. The WAY we respond has not changed because of your iPhone. The tool you use to communicate has. We done here?
 
@EESavers
The way we respond to faster comm. changed, the world changed. @seancamore: @BaileyBlair As / Twt the way we comm has. The world has NOT.
 
@seancmore
@EESavers @BaileyBlair Did the world change w/ the arrival of delivery pizza? No. How we dealt w/ hunger did. You love the iPhone. I get it.
 
@seancamore
@EESavers Twitter etiquette, John. When altering a Tweet to shorten content, use MT. To change context DON’T. Do you know the difference?
 
@seancamore
@MWestMillennial Yep. Just ask @EESavers
 
@EESavers
Naw!  140 is a pain on this. So I’m thinking about a blog post! RT @seancamore: @baileyblair . We done here?

What changes the world?  Sean’s argument includes the Trans-Atlantic Cable, Regimes Falling and Currencies Falling.  He rejects our response to the speed of news because those are “tactics for/speed of sharing news”.

What?  The Trans Atlantic cable allowed news to pass from Europe to North America via telegraph in a period measured in hours. Previously the news was carried on sailing ships in a period measured in days or even weeks.

Then a few tweets later, Sean makes the claim that the way we respond has not changed because we use an iPhone.

I disagree with his premise and his examples.  I will also posit that trying to make an argument that hangs together in 140 character bursts is not conducive to logic, and consistency.

What is your world?  My world consists of the people in it and how they react!  Specifically how they react that causes an effect on me.

The people in my world are my family, friends, neighbors, and people I interact with every day.  Those writing a letter to the editor of the Eagle; those friends on Facebook; those that are in my Twitter Stream; those that read my blog; are all part of my world that day.

Some of what those people do effects my world.  Some of what they do doesn’t effect my world.  My neighbor comes over and visits for a while, it effects my world. When he mows the lawn, not really.  How much effect on my world did that conversation with him have depends on the subject. If we just talk about day to day stuff, it effects but doesn’t really change my world.

How would my neighbor’s visit change my world?  He could tell me something major.  The knowledge he imparted then causes me to something.  So what is major?  Tye:  “Hey John!  Did you know we’e got some poison ivy growing along the fence?”  Me:  “No!  Where?”

Since my wife reacts to poison ivy when she gets within 10 feet, I would be doing something. A lack of doing something, would change my world. Doing something would change it as well.

A few years ago, that information from a neighbor actually made that comment.  Gaining the knowledge caused me to attempt to eridicate the poison ivy.  My daughter was young enough and played in the yard, I didn’t want to chance it.  She did fine.  My wife on the other hand, came within 10 feet and reacted.

That incident has meant that I do all the gardening in the back yard.  Change my life – You bet!  If the neighbor had not passed the information on, I wouldn’t have tried the eridication and none of the rest would have followed.

I would suppose you could split a bunch of hairs or just one hair a bunch of times and say it wasn’t the information exchange, it was my actions.  That ignores the cause and effect of the information on my action.

Now the issue is not a neighborly over the fence visit.  It is the news traveling fast and the increased volume of news the iPhone has enabled.

Like the Trans Atlantic cable, people have many sources of quick news.  The claim is that currencies falling changes the world, but not the iPhone.

So lets look at Greece, real problems with their currency over the past year.  Has it fallen?  I don’t think so.  The problems with German currency in the 1920’s were much more severe than what Greece has been through lately.

The question is: What is your world?  My world consists of the people in it and how they react to the news about currency probems in Greece!  Specifically how they react  to those problems that causes an effect on me.

In the days of the Trans Atlantic cable, the news would have come to America the same day. With the speed of the cable, the news would have probably included several stories from different points of view. Those financial types in NYC would then read the news and the various stories and make some decisions and eventually the impact of those decisions would make their way to Kansas and effect me.

In the days of the iPhone, news would still arrive the same day.  News includes even more points of view.  Each of those points could come from an established source such as the governments and news papers of several European Capitols.  That would have been the source in the days of the cable.  Now, each blogger, tweeter, and so on; with the iPhone (or other smart phone) comment and offer a point of view.

The larger difference from the cable is the recipients.  Instead of a few NYC financial types reading the news the next day in one of two or three NYC papers; every banker and stock analyst across the country can read it.  They can read a variety of sources. They can read from a limited list of sources.

More to the point, they receive the info daily, or even multiple times per day.  They don’t have the buffer of time, the buffer of filters, they read it direct.  How much is wrong?  How much is slanted or spun?

One more example:  My wife interacted with her mother weekly. They wrote letters.  They bought stamps, and the mail came.  Great Stuff!  Now my wife keeps up with our daughter via the iPhone.

They text, they call, they use facebook.  All on the iPhone.  My wife knows much more about what her daughter is doing on a daily basis. Much more than her mother knew.

When my wife would talk in person to her mother, she would have to explain who this or that friend was.  My daughter doesn’t go through that.  She and her mother is friends with many of the same people on Facebook.

Has the iPhone changed our world.   Yep!

Conference Report: Frost, Ice, and Snow: Cold Climate in Russian History

Too many times people put on blinders related to their field of study, or just get too busy, and fail to consider a much wider point of view. In the process of auditing homes and helping people use less energy to heat and cool their homes, it is easy to lose track of how the cold can be looked at from many other points of view. From my interest in History – a piece crossed my email with a report on this Conference.  I present this for those who might be interested in how cold effects many things we do.

I would like to thank Henry Sirotin of Hunter College, NY, NY for bringing this to my attention.

JN

Conference Report: Frost, Ice, and Snow: Cold Climate in Russian History
16–18 February 2012, Moscow, Russia

Sponsors: German Historical Institute (DHI Moscow), Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society, LMU Munich (RCC)

Conveners: Julia Herzberg (RCC Munich), Ingrid Schierle (DHI Moscow),
Andreas Renner (University of Tübingen), Klaus Gestwa (University of Tübingen)

In January 2012 inhabitants of the Northern Hemisphere experienced firsthand how much cold can influence our daily life. The fact that tabloid newspapers in Western Europe referred to it as “Russian cold” demonstrates the strength of the popular association of Russia with cold. It is therefore all the more fitting that the conference “Frost, Ice, and Snow: Cold Climate in Russian History” followed in the footsteps of this cold spell, bringing these topics into connection with each other. At the conference, which was organized by the German Historical Institute in Moscow and the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society and took place between 16 and 18 February 2012, scholars of environmental history, philosophy, and geography, as well as religious, film, and literary studies discussed the influence of cold climate on the Russian culture and history.

After the greeting by Nikolaus Katzer, the director of the German Historical Institute in Moscow, Julia Herzberg (Munich) introduced the goals of the conference, with the primary aim being to shed light on the relationship between environment and the study of history. She mentioned the discrepancy between the significance of climate for particular historical events in Russian history and the ignorance of historians up to now concerning these factors. Herzberg emphasized that the conference not only aimed to look at the gaps in research but also offered an opportunity to discuss the reasons why environmental history and climatic factors have played a minor role in previous historical scholarship. Furthermore the conference hoped to bring about a shift in focus within the environmental history of Russia and Eastern Europe. A large proportion of environmental history studies of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union consider nature and the environment one-sidedly as a target of human activity.

The conference offered a chance to understand the relationship between nature and society as truly interdependent. It also presented new directions in research by looking at the history of science, as well as placing everyday practices and issues of risk and vulnerability at the center of the discussion and offered an opportunity to discuss how individual and collective identities are created through discussions about cold and
what significance these representations have for the understanding of oneself and others.

The first session was dedicated to ways of dealing with cold in everyday life and during the war. SVETLANA A. RAFIKOVA (Krasnojarsk) focused on adaptive practices, showing how city dwellers in the Krasnojarsk region in the 1960s managed the cold weather, developing a specifically Siberian culture.

KATARZYNA CHIMIAK (Warsaw) presented her dissertation project, in which she compares Dnepropetrosvsk, Essen and Manchester during the hard winter of 1946/47. A central question was whether and to what degree different social and economic structures led to different strategies for adaptation. The second half of the session was concerned with cold climate during the war.

ANTHONY J. HEYWOOD (Aberdeen) lectured on its effects on railroads from the First World War through the February Revolution of 1917. Heywood argued against the thesis that the difficulties with transportation and distribution of supplies resulting from the snow and extreme cold were a primary cause for the February Revolution.

ALEKSANDER L. KUZ’MINYKH (Vologda) examined the influence of the Russian winter on German soldiers first on the front and later in prisoner of war camps in and after the Second World War. He discussed why Russian and Soviet historians of World War II have ignored the importance of climate for so long.

The second session, “Coping with Cold” looked at the function of cold  and snow both as a threat and as a focal point for building a common identity, as well as serving a recreational function. Using a catastrophic avalanche in the Khibiny Region on the Kola Peninsula in 1935, ANDY BRUNO (Urbana-Champaign) showed how socially produced vulnerabilities are
expressed environmentally. Peasants forced to migrate during the settlement and industrialization of the north were most exposed to the dangers of avalanches. The tragic event was a catalyst for renewed efforts to scientifically predict the likelihood of avalanches.

The presentation of MARC ELIE (Paris) also focused on a catastrophic avalanche, looking at the disaster in 1966 in Alma-Ata. Avalanches, he argued, present the greatest threat to city growth and sport tourism. Elie showed how a local disaster in central Asia led to avalanches becoming a focus of scientific, technological, and government efforts.

The phenomenon of cold also influenced the formation of masculine identity and cultural heroes, as ALEKSANDR ANAN’EV (Moscow) showed using examples of polar explorers and hockey players.

ALEKSEI D. POPOV (Simferopol’) offered a new perspective on the history of tourism with his presentation on Soviet winter tourism as a seasonal phenomenon. He described how the significance of winter tourism changed over the decades from the 1920s to the 1990s. It ceased to function as ideological and physical training in preparation for wartime duties.

“Changing Climates” was the topic of the third session, which began the second day of the conference. JULIA LAJUS (St. Petersburg) presented her work with SVERKER SÖRLIN (Stockholm). Lajus discussed the significance of sea ice studies for Soviet arctic science and looked at its connections to ice and snow research in Sweden. She used the biographies and research results of Soviet and Swedish scientists to show how much contact and cooperation there was across the Iron Curtain.

PAUL JOSEPHSON (Waterville) looked at the industrialization of the Russian north as ordered by Moscow and inquired into the environmental damage and social costs which the transformation of the region brought with it. He demonstrated that the Bolsheviks ignored both the climatic and geological conditions as well as the knowledge of the local population, which resulted in a sharp increase in the environmental costs.

JONATHAN OLDFIELD (Glasgow) presented a counterpoint to this in his paper, arguing that the understanding of the
reciprocal relationship between society and nature improved after the Second World War. He showed that Soviet geographers of the 1950s not only recognized the importance of climate as a historical and dynamic process, but also pointed out the dangers of climate change.

Like Oldfield, DENIS J. B. SHAW (Birmingham) concerned himself with one of the most important Soviet geographers, A. A. Grigor’ev and his text “Subarktika,” focusing on Grigor’ev’s studies of the tundra. The discussion following both contributions showed once again how much research and politics were intertwined during the Cold War.

The papers in the following session, “Civilizing Coldness,” focused on the period around the end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century. Thus EKATERINA A. DEGAL’TSEVA (Biisk) talked about the mythically colored image of the “Sibiryak” that developed in Russia in the
nineteenth century, showing how climatic conditions influenced the (self)perception of Siberian residents.

NATALIA RODOGINA (Novosibirsk) focused on the significance of climate on the representations of Siberia in the Russian media in the second half of the nineteenth century. Of central importance was the question of whether the narrative of Siberia as a land of cold helped to integrate the region into the empire or whether it hindered this process.

Imperial attitudes towards the periphery were also the subject of the presentation by IAN W. CAMPBELL (California-Davis/Harvard) on shut in Kazakhstan. Zhut is a weather phenomenon occurring every ten to twelve years, characterized by the freezing of fodder grasses and resulting starvation of livestock, and was used by the scientists and bureaucrats in the waning empire to devalue the nomadic lifestyle and promote their ideas about the “modernization” of the steppes. DAVID SAUNDERS (Newcastle) looked at the economic and technological development of the Russian
arctic. Saunders made clear that the personal aptitudes of the people involved played a decisive role.

From the perspective of a geographer ERKI TAMMIKSAAR (Tartu) reconstructed the discovery of the Antarctic in the
1820s, another controversial topic during the Cold War due to the difficulty of clearly delineating a mass of ice. Therefore he argued that one should acknowledge multiple discoverers in different time periods, and base our evaluation on the knowledge available in their time. The competition to develop the Antarctic, as well as the initial discovery of it, demonstrates how scientific accomplishments were used for propaganda during the Cold War.

The last session of the second day examined cold as an aesthetic phenomenon and an imagined feeling. OKSANA BULGAKOWA (Mainz) began with a media and film studies approach to the topic. Using key examples from Russian/ Soviet film history, she looked at the ways cold was narrated and portrayed. Bulgakowa showed that the films contributed to making snow an important component of national identity.

While Bulgakowa was concerned with the Russians’ image of themselves, ROMAN MAUER (Mainz) was interested in the portrayal of Russian cold in German films of the post-war period. Here cold functioned as a symbol of trauma, allowing Germans to portray themselves as victims of the Soviet regime and to suppress questions of guilt and responsibility.

The third day continued the examination of artistic portrayals of cold, now turning to the medium of literature. SUSANNE FRANK (Berlin) discussed permafrost as a metaphor for memory in gulag literature. Starting with “ice” as a figure for the “other” in eighteenth-century literature, she suggested that in gulag literature ice gained a new function in addition to the classical one: it allowed projections of the future and of the possibility of living on (after death). The subsequent discussion emphasized that, particularly in hagiographic writing, the usual negative connotations of cold may be supplemented with positive ones.

Similar comments were made regarding the presentation of religious scholar JOSEF SCHOVANEC (Alfortville) on freezing as a spiritual experience. Schovanec showed that authors of autobiographical gulag literature often portray snow, ice, and cold as active forces. This presentation thus offered an opportunity to discuss the analytival value of the approach to think of nature as an actor.

The next session, “Representations Between Science and Politics” was introduced by PEY-YI CHU (Princeton). She described how a scientific discipline developed in the Soviet Union in the 1930s which made permafrost soil the object of scientific investigation and argued that this was also a strategy to present the permafrost zones as regions of economic significance. She discussed how different conceptions of the
permafrost led to it being manifested in various visualizations.

CAROLIN F. ROEDER (Harvard) dedicated her presentation to the Yeti as a “transnational monster.” She showed how even during the Cold War discourses about the Yeti overcame national boundaries and how it became a locus for discussion about “science” and “pseudoscience.”

In his concluding remarks KLAUS GESTWA (Tübingen) reflected upon the results of the conference, identified a number of central themes and suggested possibilities for further research. In many presentations, he noted, the human, societal and economic costs of the harsh climate were
particularly evident. At the same time, events such as Napoleon’s invasion of Russian in 1812 or the Second World War also had a protective function.

The conference showed, Gestwa concluded, how closely the history of cold is linked with science and technology. Above all the history of science during the Cold War, which was the subject of multiple presentations, showed that during the Cold War the investigation of cold, of all things, offered opportunities for scientific collaboration which transcended ideological differences. Gestwa expressed regret that the majority of presentations approached the cold regions from the point of view of outsiders, while the perspective of the indigenous population was only rarely considered. He proposed using the dichotomy “challenge” and “threat” as analytical categories and giving further consideration to the problem of whether nature can be described as an agent or actor.

In the final discussion conference participants suggested other topics for further investigation, for example, to look more closely at ways of dealing with cold in everyday life, at the connection between climate and perceptions of space, as well as linguistic aspects of the subject. Many contributions to the conference made clear that cold can develop its own dynamic, demonstrating that nature is more than just an object of human activity.

Frost, Ice, and Snow: Cold Climate in Russian History 16–18 February 2012, Moscow, Russia Welcome and Introduction
Nikolaus Katzer (DHI Moscow), Julia Herzberg (RCC Munich)

Session1: Mundane and Exceptional Times Chair: Andreas Renner (Tübingen)

Svetlana A. Rafikova (Krasnoiarsk): Siberian Frosts and the Everyday Adaptation Practices of City Dwellers

Katarzyna Chimiak (Warsaw): Challenging Crisis: Human Strategies of Adaptation and Survival during the Winter of 1946/1947 in Dnepropetrovsk, Essen, and Manchester

Anthony J. Heywood (Aberdeen): Transport for War in a Cold Climate: Russia’s Railways, July 1914 – March 1917

Aleksandr L. Kuz’minykh (Vologda): The Wehrmacht and the Russian Winter: the Influence of Climate on German Servicemen on the Front and in Soviet Captivity (1941-1956)

Session 2: Coping with Cold Chair: Erki Tammiksaar (Tartu)

Andy Bruno (Urbana-Champaign): Tumbling Snow: Avalanches in the Soviet North Marc Elie (Paris): Winter Sports, Ice Sciences, and Avalanches in Soviet Central Asia, 1950s-1980s

Aleksandr V. Anan’ev (Moscow): Heroes of the Ice: Two Masculine Identity Scripts of the Soviet Era—Hockey Player and Polar Explorer—and their Actualization at the Start of the Twenty-First Century

Aleksei D. Popov (Simferopol’): Winter Tourism in the Soviet Union: School of Courage, Competitive Brand, National Pastime

Session 3: Changing Climates Chair: Carolin F. Roeder (Harvard)
Julia Lajus (St. Petersburg): Cryo-Connections, Political Friendship and the Prospects of an Ice–Free Arctic, 1928–1955

Paul Josephson (Waterville): Soviet Efforts to Transform Nature in the Russian Northwest (Arkhangelsk and Murmansk provinces, Karelian Republic)

Jonathan Oldfield (Glasgow): Conceptualisations of Climate Change amongst Soviet Geographers from ca. 1945 to the early 1970s

Denis J. B. Shaw (Birmingham): The Subarctic: A Classic Study of the Tundra

Session 4: Civilizing Coldness Chair: Marc Elie (Paris)

Ekaterina A. Degal’tseva (Biisk): Sibirsk as a Concentrated Concept of Russian Cold (a Case Study of the Nineteenth Century)

Nataliia N. Rodigina (Novosibirsk): From the Country of Cold and Darkness to the Promised Land: the Role of the Climate in the Construction of Siberia’s Image in the Russian Magazine Press of the Late Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

Ian W. Campbell (Davis, CA): The Nomad Who Came in from the Cold: Zhut and Civilizational Difference in the Late Nineteenth Century

David Saunders (Newcastle): Commerce and Technology in the Development of the Russian Arctic (1862-1921)

Erki Tammiksaar (Tartu): Russian South Pole Expedition in the Context of Political Interests of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union

Session 5: Imagining Coldness Chair: Julia Herzberg (Munich)

Oksana Bulgakova (Mainz): Global Warming
Roman Mauer (Mainz): The Aesthetics of Cold and National Trauma in Film: Escape from a Siberian POW Camp

Session 6: Metaphors and Narratives Chair: Roman Mauer (Mainz)

Susanne Frank (Berlin): Permafrost as a Metaphor of Memory in Russian GULAG Literature (Pavel Florenskii, Varlam Shalamov) J. P. Schovanec (Alfortville): Frost as a Spiritual Experience: Written Accounts of Foreign Detainees in Stalinist Camps

Session 7: Representations Between Science and Politics
Chair: Paul Josephson (Waterville)

Pey-Yi Chu (Princeton): Mapping Permafrost Country: Visualizations of Frozen Earth in Russian History
Carolin F. Roeder (Harvard): A Creature of the Cold War: Soviet Science and the Snowman

Concluding Session Klaus Gestwa (Tübingen): Concluding Remarks

Saskia Geisler, Ruhr-Universität Bochum

I’ll Give You the Title to my Car for Some Heat!

It is cold here is Maine, there is snow on the ground and more is coming. My house is old and fuel oil is high.  I’ve had two loads this winter and my tank is dry. I’m using the oven with the door open and the dryer for heat to cut down on the amount the boiler runs. I have disconnected the dryer vent so the heat comes into the house. My wife is disabled and cold. Our Social Security doesn’t cover food and drugs and heat.  So, …. I’ll give you the title to my car for some heat!

That was the story in last Sunday’s NY Times article by Dan Berry.

Let’s bring this to Kansas.  This couple has started through the winter with an unpaid heating bill of $700.  It is not uncommon in that part of the country for homes to cost $2,000 to heat with fuel oil.  Most homes in Kansas heat with natural gas, their typical cost for heating the home and water heating is between $550 and 700 per year.  The cost of fuel oil has risen 18% from January 2011 to January of 2012.  The cost of natural gas is about the same, perhaps down slightly.  If you have propane instead of natural gas, the price range might be in the $700 – 1,200 range.

This is Tuesday night.  The Hartford’s situation has been pinging around some corners of the internet.  Energy Auditors, Insulation Contractors and others that work with improving home performance and lowering energy bills have not only been reading and discussing this story.  They have taken some action.

The first update is from Energy Circle and Peter Troast.

Wonderful news and potential progress for the 60 hours since we started reading the story.  I reading through this I see several takeaway points:

  • This couple will use less heat next year because their house will have additional insulation and air sealing of leaks.  That means it will cost less.
  • The generosity of some people across this country will provide payment for some outrageous heating bills for others that are unable to pay in that community.
  • Other homes need insulation and air sealing so they also can use significantly less heat.

There are some other articles out there.  Read what others are saying.

An Elderly Couple in Maine Offers to Trade Their Car for Fuel Oil, by Allison Bailes, PhD on the excellent Energy Vanguard Blog.

‘America has a heartbeat:’ Donations pour in for home heat, by Erin Cox, Sun Journal

Maine Freezes While Washington Snoozes, by Raymond J. Learsy, Huffington Post

This is the situation Tuesday Evening.  Future updates will be posted below.

 A Letter to the Editor NY Times from the Governor of Maine  Did he really say ‘Don’t blame me or the government?’

Grandma Said … A Let’s Blog Off Post

 

I was lucky enough to know both of my Grandmothers in their 70’s and 80’s.  This post is about my maternal Grandmother,  Lillian Elizabeth Cozier Baer – 1886 to 1966.

 

She and my Grandfather were both born in New York City and they both died in Boise, ID.  During that time they experienced many things and the Grandmother I experienced and have heard about is certainly a product of those experiences. She also made her own way. I believe she confronted her times with two different approaches to the situations that she faced in life.

Grandpa Baer worked in construction finance and accounting.  He began his career in Railway work, and then moved to road building and other types of construction.  The travels of Allison Harvey Baer and his wife, Lillian, are relevant here because they helped form or perhaps solidify my Grandma’s beliefs and practices that make up this story. They were married in 1911 and in late 1914 moved with two little girls to Peking, China.  Grandpa went to build Railroads for the Chinese Government of Sun Yat Sen and Grandma did what Mothers always do.  Keep home and hearth.

My Aunts, Betty and Ruth were the two little girls. When they returned, Aunt Jean had joined the family. They returned to Brooklyn, NY and my mother, Barbara, was born. Then Grandpa joined the company building the Moffett Tunnel in Colorado. So the family picked up and moved to Denver, with the newest baby, my Uncle Scott.  After they finished the tunnel, Grandpa joined Morrison-Knudsen of Boise, ID. Now you know the family itinerary.

I have been told 2 stories about my Grandmother and how she dealt with her family and the world.  The first by my mother, and the second by my cousin Betty. Betty is the oldest daughter of my Aunt Ruth. She grew up in Denver, except during WWII, when her father was in the US Navy, they stayed at Grandma’s house in Boise – on Warm Springs Avenue! Any one that has driven down Warm Springs Avenue, also US 30, in Boise will remember the aroma of the warm springs. Appropriate for an Energy Auditor, my first experience with a renewable power source, hot water heat.

During WWII Grandma was active in the Red Cross.  One day she left for a Red Cross Meeting.  Betty remembers noticing her shoes. Perhaps you remember the tie type shoes popular then.  Three standard colors, Brown, Black and Blue.  Betty asked Grandma, “Why are you wearing two different color shoes?”  Grandma’s response was simple and yet, not quite so simple. “I am going to the election of Officers for the Red Cross. I am running for President of the Chapter.  The competition is very stiff.  So some of those ladies will look at my shoes and think, poor Mrs. Baer and vote for me.” My Grandma is on the right receiving the check for the Red Cross.

Growing up, I remember my mother explaining why I should eat all my dinner.  Especially when it was something like Egg Plant. She would tell of hearing from Grandma about the poor in China.  It was readily imprinted on my mother that she should not spurn otherwise good food, because the starving orphans in China were not a lucky as she was.  She always told me that she wouldn’t talk about the starting orphans of China, but she would talk about the starving orphan in Korea.

Here was a lady that had graduated from college, one of 0.04% of her age group. She took her family to China maintained the raising and education of her children; and taking time to better her community. Returning to the US, she went with her husband and family continueing to raise her family, see to their education and still work to improve her community. All within the limited avenues available to her during the first half of the 20th Century.

In demonstrating these values through out her life, she made the world a better place. Directly through her efforts and indirectly through the lives of those she loved and raised.  Looking at her Great Grand Children, we have 2 that are heavily into IT and teaching; an Army Officer – just returned from his 3rd or 4th tour in the Mid East; a Navy Seal with service in Iraq, a physician, a nurse, a non-profit PR person, a college professor, her g-g grand children number 9 at this point, the oldest a Freshman in college.

In a time where travel was a novelty, most people did not go more than 50 miles from their birth place during their entire life; Grandma went around the world with her family. She worked to make the world a known place and to shrink the distance.  I think Grandma would be proud of  the strides made over the years in continuing to shrink the world, and to make the diversity we have in this world, something that is not so strange and scary. In parting, I share this picture of a small part of her family, two of her Great-Great-Granddaughters, Kim Nhat and Quan Minh.