Monday, February 21, 2011

Wild, Wonderful West Virgina

My friend, Megan, and I went to WV this weekend. WV was the last state on the eastern side of the country that I hadn't been to. We packed a lot into the weekend. We drove all the way to WV on Friday night (a five hour drive). The next morning we went to the Heritage Farm and Museum. This was a cool little family owned farm where they collected all kinds of antiques from the WV area from the past 100 years. All of the museum buildings are made from restored wood from old barns in the area. There was a cute little church and a one room school house that we got to see as well.

Seeing how people lived back in the pioneer days makes you really appreciate what you have, and realize how convenient our lives are today.
Afterward, we went to downtown Huntington. There was not much there, but we did do some shopping in a nice book store and ate lunch at Hillbilly Hotdogs. A really crazy hotdog place that took the hillbilly theme to a new level! The hotdogs were good, but you definitely have to want to go there for the atmosphere (or lack thereof) not the food.

We visited with one of Megan's friends who lives in the area and then started our drive back. The next day we stopped by Corbin, Kentucky where Colonel Sanders lived and founded the first Kentucky Fried Chicken. We of course had to taste the chicken so we got a couple pieces. I have not had KFC chicken for years, but this did not taste like what I remembered. It tasted more peppery. Interesting.

 We continued on down the highway toward the Cumberland Gap National Park. There was a gorgeous view from the top, but the roads to get up there were crazy with all kinds of hairpin turns. I was pretty excited too because I got my annual parks pass at the gift shop which gets me and anyone in my car into all the national parks for free! I cant wait to start seeing and doing in the most beautiful parts of our country.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

CSM 2011 New Orleans

On Wednesday last week I left to go to our national PT conference in New Orleans. I drove down to Atlanta and met a friend who I flew to NO with. We had an exciting beginning to our trip having to run through the airport to catch our plane. We were the last people to board! Thankfully, we made it safe and sound.
As we were checking into the hotel we met up with a PT I know from one of my internships. We all went out to dinner at a little place called the Red Eye Grill. It was nice to get to catch up and relax after our kind of rocky start.
memorial to Katrina victims outside the conference center
 The next day we woke up early to get over to the conference center and register. I got a name badge and the book that gave us the schedule and description of all the courses. There were so many courses I wanted to go to, but since there is only time for 3 courses in a day and there are over 25 courses listed for each day I had to really decide what my priorities were. So I went to courses on the major chronic diseases, MS and Parkinson's, a course about dual tasking (walking and talking), chronic pelvic pain, the coccyx and its function, hamstring injuries (specifically how the pelvis and trunk alignment can cause them), and a cool interactive course on one Pilate's method used to enhance posture and decrease risk of osteoporosis. All of them were very interesting and informative. One was taught by a lady whose name I recognized, and then I remembered where I knew it from... she wrote one of my textbooks. Pretty cool. Then, today, I was reading one of my PT magazines and featured in one of the articles was the speaker from the Parkinson's course. Crazy.
random street parade
 On the second day of the conference I presented the poster with the data from the research project I did in school. I was proud and a little humbled to have the opportunity to present in this much bigger forum. Plus I got a cool "presenter" ribbon to wear on my name tag. :) I really am mature. I promise.
Each night after the conference we found some place cool to eat. Thursday night was the best. We went to a restaurant called "Mulate's Original Cajun." They had a sampler appetizer platter that had all kinds of stuff I have never tried. It came with stuffed mushrooms, fried catfish, meat pies, crawfish tails, alligator, and frog legs! Everything was good. The frog legs were surprisingly salty, and the stuffed mushrooms were my favorite. 

tiny little frog leg... yum ;)

The next night we went out with my company who treated us to dinner and drinks. I got to meet some of the representatives from the company, but my recruiter was not there, unfortunately, so I still have not met her. Afterward, we took a cab and drove to the "Creole Creamery." This little ice cream shop was featured on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives that I saw a few weeks before going on this trip. It is known for having made over 400 different flavors of ice cream. There are not that may on the menu at all times, but they rotate through. I got a sampler dish of 6 mini scoops so I could try lots of different flavors.
 Flavors: Triple Shot Mochaccino, Cookie monster, Peanut butter Fudge Pie, Banana Foster, Lavender Honey, and King Cake Dough.
The most site seeing in the city I did was on the cab ride to the Creole Creamery. We saw a bunch of big, beautiful southern homes with large columns. They were all done up with Mardi Gras decorations. Too bad it was late and the sun was down. Sorry no pics.
This weekend I am going with a friend to West Virginia. We are going to the Heritage Farm Museum and Village. Should be interesting!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

"The Secret City"

This weekend I went to a museum in Oak Ridge, TN. To give some background...
Oak Ridge is a city that was created by the military during WWII. It was one of the sites of the Manhattan Project. Everyone has heard about the site in New Mexico and Nevada where they tested the atomic bomb for the first time, but few know about the site where all the research and development was performed.
A letter from Albert Einstein written in 1939 warned FDR that, "it may become possible to set up a nuclear chain reaction in a large mass of uranium, by which vast amounts of power and large quantities of new radium-like elements would be generated. Now it appears almost certain that this could be achieved in the immediate future." He also warned that other countries were beginning to develop these capabilities, that Germany had taken over one site where uranium was prevalent, and that in America we did not have a good supply of uranium. He encouraged the president to start research on this project and to start building up our stores of uranium.
Some research was started, but nothing massive. Then, two years later, the government got a swift kick in the rear and all-of-a-sudden began a massive research and development project. The event that triggered it... the attack on Pearl Harbor. The government decided that they needed to really start moving on this  and develop the capability to produce an atomic bomb before Germany or Japan.
They selected the TN area because of its seclusion and its accessibility by train to Washington DC and other major cities. This area was not called Oak Ridge at the time, in fact, it was not shown on any maps and there were gates around the whole city.

It quickly grew from a population of 3,000 to 75,000, making it the 5th largest city in TN at the time, with over 100,000 people working inside the gates. This was literally the city that never slept. Workers would come in shifts and work would go on 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Inside this secret city everyone wore ID badges and everyone was working toward a common goal, but no one knew exactly what that goal was. Only the top commanders in the military and the top scientists knew what they were working on. I found it very interesting that, when FDR died and Vice-President Truman took over as President, he had to be briefed on the secret X-10, Y-12, and K-25 sites (the code names for each of the major laboratories in TN). It was so secret even the VP did not know about it.

Even though most of the people did not know anything about an atomic bomb, secrecy was still of the utmost importance. It was on billboards, it was in pamphlets, and signs were hanging in every office.

One of my patients said that her uncle worked in Oak Ridge and that secrecy was so ingrained into their minds that to his dieing day he never spoke about what he would do when working there.
In order to accommodate the influx of people coming to work in this city, the government put up, "flat tops", which were prefab houses that were labeled A through F. If you told someone you were living in a "B" house they all knew the exact layout and size of your place. One of these houses still in original condition was donated to the museum and I was able to walk through it (all 576 sq feet of it). It literally looked like a box and inside I could lift my hand up and touch the ceiling. It was really small!
B1 model Flat top

One of the women who worked and lived at Oak Ridge remembers one of her supervisiors saying, "We cannot tell you what you are going to do, but we can tell you how to do it and we can only tell you that if our enemies achieve what we are attempting before we do, God help us!"
 When it comes right down to it, the best part of the story is that even with two years head start, a large supply of uranium and some amazing scientific minds the "enemies" did not achieve it before we did. We still beat them even with all the disadvantages and that just goes to speak to the nature of  the America I love. Whoever said that the attack on Pearl Harbor "awoke the sleeping giant" was spot on. When we set our minds to something we accomplish it with flying colors.
Unfortunately for Japan, the "flying colors" this time happened to be two of their cities...Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
When the scientists were performing tests on the uranium to see if, in its purest form, it was able to cause the chain reaction needed to produce a bomb the mood was intense. As they pulled out the safety barriers that had prohibited the reaction from occurring and the instruments started reading energy levels that began to set off all the safety alarms, the scientists knew they had done something great and terrible all at the same time. I read that they all had a celebratory drink in complete silence. From that test it was a quick process to make and test the first bomb. Then, when "Little Boy" and "Fat Man" landed in Japan and ended the war the people of Oak Ridge finally knew what they were working on and they were shocked, but proud.

 I wonder how I would feel knowing I played a part in the making of such a weapon of destruction?
History is so interesting and it is surprising to me that more history teachers don't go into detail about the events in our past. If they did, I would have paid much closer attention...