a Taj MuttHall Dog Diary: September 2022

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Top Secret History Stunning Secrets Revealed

SUMMARY: USA vs USSR spying, and there I was...

Just a passing discussion about a piece of my -- and our -- history for you-all:

For my first REAL job, I had to apply for a government Secret Clearance. Why?? asked someone. What were you doing that required a Secret Clearance?

This stuff.
(Image from Wikimedia Commons)
I, er, fed programs punched in paper tape through an antique computer tape reader and changed reels on magnetic tape drives.

And also carried 40-lb boxes of green and white fan-fold sprocket-fed continuous-feed computer paper to each printer several times a shift. (The shop worked 24/7/365.)

Translation: Computer operator in a military satellite tracking station, Secret because NO ONE IN THE ENTIRE WORLD KNEW THAT WE WERE SPYING ON THE USSR WITH SATELLITES. 
Except, well, pretty much everyone.

Among the many many difficult questions to answer on the application was: Have you ever been out of the country? If so, where? Well, yes, I lived in New York state and you could, at that time, just drive or stroll casually between the U.S. and Canada. THEN the application wanted to know THE EXACT DATES I had done that.

"Probably several times between 19xx and 19xx." They weren't keen on that answer and I had to spend time with a supervisor coming up with credible answers.

We worked at what everyone knew as The Blue Cube, aka the Air Force Satellite Control Facility (SCF) or the Satellite Tracking Station (STC), later renamed (long after my time there) Onizuka Air Force Station. A yuuuuge structure that sat right alongside a freeway, in plain unobstructed sight, surrounded by six squillion satellite dishes.

Very secret.

Piece of history: One day they called in all the contractors and military people from all three shifts into a top-secret conference room in the building for an announcement from the President.  Pres. Carter announced that we had --ahem-- secretly been spying on the USSR with satellites.  We tried to look surprised but... um... [blink blink]...

Read about that stunning announcement here! https://nsarchive2.gwu.edu/NSAEBB/NSAEBB231/index.htm


Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Paperwork! Money!

SUMMARY: Oooooooh closing is so close!

I can't believe it has been a month since I said I'd post something daily. Hahahaha actually I am not that surprised. I have been busy, but not significantly with the house buying process.

Now, badda-bing, badda-boom, THE NEXT BIG THING HAS HAPPENED.

The Title Company* left me voicemail late yesterday (Monday) afternoon while I was out touristing that the paperwork is ready for me to sign! And they calculated how much my total payment will be! 

Thar she be! Nice green lawn (it isn't right now because it's summer and not much rain).
Patio with pergola and raised flower planters on the near side.
Small shed on the far side against the fence.
The approximate floor plan! (I'll do a larger version later.)
And my three neighbors on my cul de sac.

Today they gave me a link to a few short documents on DocuSign identifying what my final payment consists of, identifying the buyer and seller, specifying what The Title Company is allowed/not allowed to do and what they will do. Basically that's it. 

So I DocuSigned the docu's. Next, I needed to send them a whole castle-full of money. From two different banks because I split the money up from the sale of my previous house:

  • Big Credit Union T*, back down in San Jose, had an online wire form that was easy to fill out and submit there. Someone called me back shortly thereafter to ask questions verifying my identity and asking things like, does this agreement require you to pay unidentified additional monies or ask for money back afterwards. Also whether I know that the property I'm buying actually exists.
  • Tiny Credit Union P*, here in tiny Port Townsend, does not have an online form; not even a form online to print and fill out. Have to go in to talk to them. Good thing the one in San Jose isn't like that. When I arrived, someone else occupied the seat with the manager that I needed to occupy to have this done, I waited nearly half an hour. Actually setting up the wire transfer took no more than 10 minutes. They asked similar questions, including whether I knew that The Title Company truly existed and was truly a legit business who would not be a fly-by night thang. (I am paraphrasing all the questions for poetic license.)
So, THAT BIG THING FULL OF MONEY will be out of my figurative hands tomorrow, and into the new owner's hand this coming Monday, and then SOMEONE WILL HAND ME THE KEYS! 

So excited! So broke. [wide eyes not panicking too much really]

* All company names changed to protect--oh, who knows. But I did it here anyway.


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Saturday, September 10, 2022

Doves, Music, Lyrics, and the Mysterious Ways of Brains

SUMMARY: They weren't the lyrics I thought they were.

[I *swear* I'll have something up about the new house tomorrow.]

On a driving trip through Arizona in 2010, taking photos as I went, I took a shot of blooming saguaro cactus and realized that it had a lovely dove perched on it taking sips of water from one of the flowers. I looked it up in my bird book: White-Winged Dove. Because I always like to know. 

 For some reason the topic of my vacation (or of birds or I don't know what) came up later in my dog agility class. I told about the bird drinking from a flower. What kind of bird? A species I'd never heard of before: White-Winged Dove. 

One of my classmates said, "oh! Like the song!" And it took me no more than a blink and two heartbeats to know exactly what she meant and to realize that the lyrics I'd thought for nearly 30 years were "like the wild wind does, sings a song sounds like she's singing" were not the actual lyrics. 

How I made that connection so quickly, I have no idea. She said nothing else about the song than those four words. I wonder what expression I had on my face.

Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Horrid Wonderful Treats From My Childhood.

SUMMARY: And sometimes adulthood.

Nope, no house posts for a while. So much for Every Day.

BUT MEANWHILE I ran across this fun post about childhood favorites that lose their luster and just had to write my response. Here:

Wow, my childhood in a nutshell!

We loved Wonder bread. Best thing about it was that we’d peel off the crust, break the white part into small pieces, and roll them into tiny hard balls of … white stuff. So much fun to eat that way. Although the slices were also great slathered with a super thick layer of peanut butter. I haven’t bought this bread in decades and intend to keep it that way.

Hostess cupcakes–astonishingly I still love an occasional package of the orange ones. Why? I don’t know, but I do. Good thing they have about 10,000 calories each so it makes it easy to justify not buying them except in a cupcake emergency.

Kool-Aid, YESSS!! We always had a container of green Kool-Aid in the family fridge. All the kids knew that we were the place to go to get a cold glass of green Kool-Aid. I kept it up after I moved out until I was about 23, by which time I was a full-on Mug RootBeer in stumpy glass bottles addict. The next time I got around to making the Kool-Aid…. ugh. Haven't made it in decades, I don't think.

Oreos–the only ones I can handle are the fudge-covered mint-filled ones. Those, I can suck down a container full in the blink of my tongue. So bad, so good.

Necco wafers: I still love them. Why? Not sure. Maybe they taste of childhood? I just about danced in circles around the retro-candy-brands store last week [I left my phone at home! So no photos!] when I saw that they carried them! (I had heard they’d been discontinued.) I went through the roll in a day. Maybe I’ll go back for another in a few weeks. Some things just can’t be explained.