Tag Archives: Time Travel

George Taylor, the Robinson Family and Me

13 May

As I mentioned in the last post, I was put under anesthesia. The medical staff stuck a needle in my arm; put oxygen in my nose; and said that I would soon fall asleep. For a few seconds, I laid on my side and stared at a monitor. I wondered if this was really going to work.

Then, I was waking up in the recovery room. Someone asked me how I was doing and brought a Coke for me to drink. The rest of the time was a little fuzzy. My wife came in, and we talked to the doctor. They loaded me into a wheelchair and took me to the car. As we drove home, my mind began to clear up, and a name came to my mind.

George Taylor.

You may not recognize the name, but you may know his story. George was an astronaut sent on a deep space mission. To complete the trip, he and his crew had to be put into deep hibernation.Planet of the Apes

At some point, their spaceship crashed, and they were awakened from their sleep. To make a long story short, they got out of the ship and discovered that they were on a planet controlled by talking apes. George Taylor was Charlton Heston’s character in Planet of the Apes.

I started thinking about George because he must have had the same feeling that I did. He was placed in hibernation and, in his mind, immediately woke up. However, time had continued. I did not wake up in a world ruled by monkeys, but I did wake up after some time had passed. An hour passed for everyone around me, but, in my mind, it was only a few seconds.

Then, I started thinking about the Robinson family. You know the ones – John, Maureen, Judy, Penny and Will. They were placed in deep hibernation for their trip to Alpha Centauri. Oh yeah, Major Don West was put in there, too.Lost in Space

Anyway, things went awry when Dr. Zachary Smith tried to sabotage the mission and woke them up.

I bet they felt the same way as George. John, Maureen and their brood fell asleep one second and woke up the next. Instead of apes, they had a terrorist and a screwed up robot on their hands.

I say all of that to say this. Going under anesthesia made me think about time travel. Would placing people in hibernation for years work? Would they feel like that only seconds had passed instead of years? Here is something else. Is being put under anesthesia a form of mental time travel? From my point of view, it only took a few seconds for an hour to pass.

I have no idea, but I know that I did not wake up with a bunch of apes hovering over me.

Outdoor Blogging About Lightning Bugs and Time Travel

6 Jun

Tonight, I am doing something a little different. Instead of sitting at my desk or at the breakfast table, I am blogging on the deck. Dusk is my favorite part of the day. It’s that time between dark and light when you can see but not see. It’s that time when the shadows begin to echo with the noises of the night. It’s that time that I like to imagine vampires waking from their sleep. With all that going on, I need to experience it and not be shielded by the artificial lights of the house.

Actually, I’m not a big fan of artificial lights. I keep my office dark, and, when I am able, I keep my house dark, too. For some reason, things just seem more interesting when they can barely be seen. That’s probably why they keep the lights dim at strip clubs.

Here I am sitting on the deck, and I really notice the noises. I hear the neighbors talking on their deck. I wonder if people realize how far sound travels. I hear birds in the woods behind the house. I hear crickets chirping, one of the most lonesome sounds in the world. There is a dog barking in the distance.

When I was a kid, we played a game. Whoever saw the first lightning bug would win a prize. It could have been a soft drink or an extra thirty minutes before going to bed. Seeing the first lightning bug always seemed to be a moment of passage. In my mind, that’s when day truly turned into night. I just saw the first lightning bug, so it is night, now.Lightning Bug

I feel the urge to get up and catch one. That was also a fun game. Catch one and let it glow in your hand. It’s probably weird, but I also tried to find patterns in their mass blinking.

The neighbor just yelled, “Cold beer!” That’s one way to spend a relaxing evening. I’m not a big fan of beer, however. When I was younger, I hated it. Then, someone told me that I had to acquire a taste for it. That didn’t make sense. If I had to learn to like something, then why would I want it in the first place? There are other choices of adult beverages that taste better.Jack Daniels Logo

The light of my computer screen is attracting bugs. It’s always good to be typing and something is crawling along with the cursor.

It really is a nice evening. The trees are swaying in the breeze. Someone down the street is mowing their lawn. For me, it is a night for contemplating. When that happens, I think about the distant future. I guess that’s strange for someone who studies the past for a living. I tend to think of it as future history. What will historians of the future find when they look back? What will my house look like? Will it still be here? Will this be one of those neighborhoods of old homes like we have now? How big will the trees be? Will there be a George Jetson car pulling into the driveway?George Jetson

I don’t know, but I wonder. That’s why people have always been fascinated with time travel. We want to know what we, deep down, realize that we can never know.

Anyway, that’s what happens when I blog outdoors.

Boarding Mr. Peabody’s WABAC Machine

7 Dec

When I was a kid, “The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show” was shown in reruns, and I would often catch an episode or two. It wasn’t my favorite show by any means because Bullwinkle always drove me crazy. I think it was his voice, but it could have been any aspect of his goofy self. However, I was fascinated by Mr. Peabody and his WABAC Machine and the idea of going back to witness historic events. Obviously, I was a weird child to like the time-traveling, talking dog over the goofy, talking moose. Through the years as a historian, I keep going back to Mr. Peabody and thinking how cool it would be to actually be present at historic events. I have even been known to mention the WABAC Machine in class. I know the students have no idea what I am talking about, but they aren’t usually listening anyway.

Of course, time travel, as we know through countless references in popular culture, has it drawbacks. We could alter the course of history and change the world as we know it. That’s why I favor the “duck blind” method from “Star Trek”. Use a force field to hide a viewing station in the natural terrain. If walking about is needed, then use an individualized force field for hiding a protection. See, problem solved. All you have to do is combine the worlds of Mr. Peabody and Mr. Spock, and the problem is solved.

So, if I could board Mr. Peabody’s WABAC Machine to travel to a “duck blind” from “Star Trek”, then these are the historic events I would venture to see.

1. Montana Territory, 1876 – George Custer and the 7th Cavalry find their way to the banks of the Little Big Horn River. There they find Sitting Bull, Crazy Horse and hundreds of Sioux and Cheyenne warriors. The Battle of Little Big Horn does not end well for Custer and his men, but for the Native Americans it is a classic case of winning the battle and losing the war. After the defeat of one of America’s most famous soldiers, the U.S. Army makes it a point to bring an end of the Indian Wars. The battlefield is my favorite historic site, as I can sit on the hill and sense the history around me. It is probably the markers that designate the places where soldiers fell (although inaccurately) that make the battle easy to track over the terrain.

2. Dayton, Tennessee, 1925 – As a publicity stunt, leaders of Dayton arrest John Scopes of breaking a new law disallowing the teaching of evolution in public schools. The stunt gets out of hand when two of the nation’s most famous lawyers. William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow, agree to fight it out in court over the difference between the creation story of the Bible and the theories of Darwin. It must have been a fascinating scene as a circus atmosphere descended upon the town. I love teaching about the Scopes Monkey Trial and have even taken a group of students to the actual courtroom to discuss it. I am amazed that 86 years later we are still fighting over the same issue.

3. The Moon, 1969 – Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to walk on a celestial body that was not Earth. This is the greatest achievement in human history. Watching the astronauts leave the capsule and walk around would have been a literal other-worldly experience. Also, viewing this event as it happened would prove to the skeptics that it wasn’t faked. Next semester, one of our history professors is offering a class on conspiracy theories and why people latch on to them. You would be amazed at the amount of students who do not believe that the truth is known.

4. Maryville, Tennessee, 1974 – This event is on a more personal level. My dad used to sponsor a men’s slow pitch softball team, a hobby for which he was inducted in the Tennessee Softball Hall of Fame. His teams won 10 state championships, but the first came in 1974 against the Number 1 ranked team in the nation. Actually, I was there, but I do not remember it. I was 4 years old at the time. The game was close and came down to a diving catch for the last out. I would like to go back for several reasons. First, I would like to watch the game. Second, I would like to see my dad and all of the people who I know as they looked in 1974. Third, I would like to see what I was doing as a 4-year-old.

Those are my WABAC wishes. If I really had a machine, then I would go to those events first. Of course, I would not be able to stop there and would get addicted to the travel. I would also probably start messing up the timeline. Where would you go if you had access to the WABAC Machine?