Archive for March, 2014
Every year since 1962, the Chicago River has been dyed green to celebrate St. Patrick’s day. Nowadays, both the dyeing and a big parade take place the Saturday before the 17th. (Next year, they’ll coincide when the 17th falls on a Saturday.) It’s a uniquely Chicago tradition that tips its hat to the central role the Irish have played in the city’s history.
For a few hours every year, the architectural landmarks that line the Chicago River acquire an aquatic front yard that’s as vibrant as the neon green relish of a genuine Chicago hot dog.
The actual dye is orange. It turns green when it’s churned into the water. The discovery of this phenomenom was made by members of Chicago’s pipefitters union back in 1962, and the union has been dyeing the river for St. Pat’s ever since.
The natural green of the river can be seen to the right, awaiting its transformation into the hypergreen to the left.
1962, over 100 pounds of dye were dumped into the river, leaving it green for days. Now, only 40 pounds are dispersed, but because the river was reversed to run backwards away from the lake, even one day later, the entire river for many blocks to the west remains a single shamrock-colored fairway.
Chicago’s mania for St. Patrick’s green is pervasive. Above is the fountain in Daley Plaza.
Most folks know I like Cold War stories here on the blog.
I’ve written quite a few and they are frankly probably the most popular pieces on the site.
I’ve written a couple about the SR-71. Actually, written is rather a strong word. I have republished stories, that have been written or told by the actual men who flew these ridiculously powerful machines. Mostly because I see them floating in cyberspace but never find a good single collection of them. So I enjoy doing it.
I enjoy them, as I have a child like affection for the black metal monster that borders on obsession. My first model was a Blackbird for instance.
So when I came across this story about the SR-71, I couldn’t help but add it to the slowly growing collection here.
I first published this at Techography on March 17, 2007. I reposted it here in 2010 for posterity and your reading pleasure! I imagine it will be a yearly thing- BS
I, Patrick, a sinner, a most simple countryman, the least of all the faithful and most contemptible to many, had for father the deacon Calpurnius, son of the late Potitus, a priest, of the settlement [vicus] of Bannavem Taburniae; he had a small villa nearby where I was taken captive. I was at that time about sixteen years of age. I did not, indeed, know the true God; and I was taken into captivity in Ireland with many thousands of people, according to our deserts, for quite drawn away from God, we did not keep his precepts, nor were we obedient to our priests who used to remind us of our salvation. And the Lord brought down on us the fury of his being and scattered us among many nations, even to the ends of the earth, where I, in my smallness, am now to be found among foreigners.
St. Patrick, The Confessio
The person who was to become St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland, was born in Wales about AD 385. His given name was Maewyn Succat, and he almost didn’t get the job of bishop of Ireland because he lacked the required scholarship.
Far from being a saint, until he was 16, he considered himself a pagan. At that age, he was sold into slavery by a group of Irish marauders that raided his village. During his captivity, he became closer to God.
The blog is green once again. The quote is changed as it will do so each week this month for something that I feel is witty, applicable or entertaining. Your mileage may vary of course.
A recent conversation reminded me of the dangers of doing my historical work each year on Ireland. We Irish are romantics, we even romanticize our revolutions, and it can be easy to fall sway under the ideology through that silver tongue. I say we, but at the heart of the issue is I am whats usually known as a Plastic Paddy, born in America and accepted by neither. So it is.
My grandfather supported independence, but not the method by which it was attempted or achieved. That’s a serious fence to straddle, especially in Irish politics. I think due him I am of the same. The methods were brutal, ugly, horrible and little more than terrorism. The basis for the action can be understood, even appreciated, but not the extremes to which it was taken. Having never been in that position myself, I find it hard for me to judge any stronger than that.
No side was correct in the conflict and troubles. Both sides did wrong, gave wrong, and escalated wrong. No side was in the right, and it was all painted in shades of gray.
The cease fires are important. Because only by stepping away from the conflict can we see how far down the path we go in losing our humanity, ability, and basic human concern for our fellow man. If one stays in the furnace too long all they see is fire, and everything needs to burn.
I hope by this way of explanation I have somewhat eased my friends’ mind in regards to my own position, complex though it may seem.
The works I have written that are military in nature and gathered may sometimes seem to support one side, or the other, but its not the case. Rather I am attempting to bring perspective, a chance to view for a moment through another eye as best I can. A glimpse behind the curtain if you will. The intent is to explain to my fellow Americans that we are not as insulated as we think we are from terrorism, and all it takes is one action, one straw for the camel that we could be thrust in to a similar corner. At which point only studying history such as Ireland do we find peaceful ways out of that corner, without entering the furnace ourselves.
I confess an above normal level of obsession with this Russia/Ukraine incident. I make no excuse for it.
Truth be told its little more dynamical than the Georgian incident.
But for some reason this feels different. A vibe in the air. A vibe I haven’t felt or seen since the 1970’s and 8-‘s during the Cold War