The Imaginary Realms of
Gilbert M. Stack



Today in History: Gemini 3

Posted by Gilbert Stack on March 23, 2019 at 8:45 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (March 23) in 1965, the United States put Gemini 3 in orbit. It was the first time the U.S. had put a two-man capsule into space. (The Soviet Union had already put a two-man and three-man capsule into space.) And it was the first time anyone had changed a capsule’s orbit (they maneuvered to a lower altitude). Up until this time, capsules had been dependent on the orbit established by their rocket boosters when they were launched into space.

Today in History: A Peace Treaty

Posted by Gilbert Stack on March 22, 2019 at 5:10 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (March 22) in 1621, the Pilgrims of Plymouth Colony forged a peace treaty with Massasoit of the Wampanoag. The treaty stated that neither side would harm the other and if one did do harm, that person would be turned over to the harmed side for punishment. Thefts by either side would be restored. Both sides would render military aid to the other if they were attacked and they would publicize this fact. And finally, neither side would bring weapons into the other side’s settlements. The terms of the treaty were straight forward and simple and helped to cement an alliance which lasted through the first generation of the Plymouth Colony.

Today in History: The Republican Party

Posted by Gilbert Stack on March 20, 2019 at 5:05 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (March 20) in 1854 the Republican Party was organized in the United States in opposition to the Democratic Party. Early Republicans were drawn from anti-slavery advocates, modernizers, ex-Whigs (who had pushed westward expansion during the 1840s but collapsed over the slavery issue), and ex free soilers (a single issue party opposed to the expansion of slavery into the western territories). Their original slogan--free labor, free land, and free men--summed up their early focus on ending the corrupt economic system then dominating the southern economy and southern politics. They successfully burst out onto the national stage with the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency in 1860.

Today in History: Daylight Savings Time

Posted by Gilbert Stack on March 19, 2019 at 6:15 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (March 19) in 1918, the U.S. Congress established time zones across the United States and began the practicing of adjusting the clocks for Daylight Savings Time. The idea was first proposed by George Hudson in 1895 as a way of maximizing sunlight in the evenings so that industrial workers would be able to enjoy daylight at the end of their workdays.

Today in History: Hawaii

Posted by Gilbert Stack on March 18, 2019 at 6:25 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (March Eighteen) in 1959 the Hawaii Admission Act was signed by President Eisenhower. The Act followed a referendum in Hawaii on whether to make the islands into a state. Out of a population of 600,000 people, 155,000 were registered to vote and 140,000 voted in favor of statehood.

Today in History: St. Patrick

Posted by Gilbert Stack on March 17, 2019 at 7:00 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (March 17) sometime in the fifth century, St. Patrick is believed to have died. He was born into a wealthy Romano-British family in Britain, the son of a deacon and the grandson of a priest. (Priests were permitted to get married for the first millennia of Christianity.) At the age of sixteen, he was kidnapped by Irish raiders and sold into slavery in Ireland where over the next six years he learned to speak Gaelic. At the age of 22 he believed that God directed him to flee to the coast where he convinced sailors to return him to Britain, but he didn’t stay there. After becoming a priest, he returned to Ireland where his fluency in the local language made him a much more effective missionary than those who had preceded him. He converted thousands starting a process which eventually drove the druids (i.e. the snakes) out of Ireland.

Today in History: West Point

Posted by Gilbert Stack on March 16, 2019 at 7:05 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (March 16) in 1802, Thomas Jefferson signed the Military Peace Establishment Act to define the number of officers and military personnel that the United States would maintain in times of peace. The Act was actually driven by Jefferson’s distrust of the military and fear that it was dominated by the Federalist Party and he used it not only to shrink the army but to purge it of the officers he considered to be the most partisan Federalists. The Act also established the Military Academy at West Point to train engineers so that the U.S. military would not be dependent on foreign engineers.

Today in History: Michael Makoe Died

Posted by Gilbert Stack on March 15, 2019 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (March 15) in 2009, my father-in-law, Michael Makoe, died. It was the sad and painful end to an even sadder and more painful decade of his suffering. It was the conclusion of an important phase in my family’s life and the beginning of a hard period in which we struggled to discover the shape of our future without the man who had been so central to our lives for so many years.

Michael Makoe was an exceedingly good man. He’d offered years of service to his family and his country, worked to provide for his wife and daughters, volunteered his time as a soccer coach and generally helped out his neighbors whenever they had need. He was strikingly intelligent, well informed and articulate. He obtained a patent for a garage door opening device which he invented. He always had a joke or a story to share and he made friends very easily.

He was sick with cancer most of the years I knew him. He had been exposed to agent orange while serving in Vietnam and compounded the damage those chemicals had done with a lifetime of smoking cigarettes. The cancer changed him, limiting him physically even as it offered him the opportunity to demonstrate his incredible will power and his strong desire to live. He endured chemotherapy and experimental drugs and defied doctors’ predictions of a quick end, fighting on for nearly a decade. He wanted desperately to return to work and his old life and was frustrated and depressed that this was not possible, but he found new ways to enjoy life mostly through his two grandchildren.

Michael’s illness forced his wife and daughters to find depths of strength I’m certain they didn’t know they had. Their care for him was admirable, inspiring, and touching at every level. They gave him love, comfort and dignity and kept him by them in our home so there would be no chance that he would die alone.

Ten years later Michael is still interwoven in our lives. His name continues to frequently filter through our conversations, proving that he’s not far from anyone’s thoughts. The majority of those memories are happy ones drawn from the years long before the cancer intruded into our lives and it goods to hear the laughter they bring. This is the Michael Makoe I would have liked to know better and through the memories of his wife and daughters, his grandchildren and I have enjoyed becoming better acquainted with him.

Today in History: The Cotton Gin

Posted by Gilbert Stack on March 14, 2019 at 5:00 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (March 14) in 1794 Eli Whitney received a patent for his cotton gin. This invention changed the course of American History because it made growing cotton much more profitable thus increasing the demand for slaves at a time in which many historians believe that slavery was losing its economic viability. Cotton blooms contains thirty to forty sticky seeds which had to be separated from the cotton fiber before they could be turned into cloth. One slave, working by hand, could clean approximately one pound of cotton per day. The cotton gin permitted one person to clean more than fifty pounds of cotton a day. Whitney’s “cotton engine” greatly enhanced the value of cotton farming and the need of slaves to work the cotton fields.

Today in History: Uranus

Posted by Gilbert Stack on March 13, 2019 at 5:20 AM Comments comments (0)

On this day (March 13) in 1872 Sir William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus—except he wasn’t actually the first person to sight it. In 128 BCE Hipparchos included Uranus in his star catalogue and Ptolemy incorporated it from Hipparchos’s work into his own Almagest. In 1690, John Flamsteed observed it six times cataloguing it as 34 Tauri. Pierre Charles Le Monnier observed it at least twelve times between 1750 and 1769. None of these people, however, realized they were looking at a planet. Even Sir William Herschel originally identified it as a comet. It was other astronomers who realized that Herschel’s comet was actually a planet.