Daily Update: Monday, November 7th, 2016

National Vocation Awareness Week and 11-07 - Tacoma Narrows Bridge

National Vocation Awareness Week continues. With no Saints to honor today, we recall the events of this day in 1940, when it was a windy day in the Tacoma Narrows strait of Puget Sound between Tacoma and the Kitsap Peninsula in the state of Washington, with spectacular results for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. Today is the Midpoint of the Autumn Season, and today is also the birthday of my son Matthew (1986).

National Vocation Awareness Week continues, and we pray, “God our Father, we thank you for calling men and women to serve in your Son’s Kingdom as priests, deacons, religious, and consecrated persons. Send your Holy Spirit to help us respond generously and courageously to your call. May our community of faith support vocations of sacrificial love in our youth. We ask this through our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” Turning to secular matters, even during construction of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge a mild to moderate wind could cause alternate halves of the center span to visibly rise and fall several feet over four- to five-second intervals. After the bridge was opened to the public on July 1st, 1940, people would drive across “Galloping Gertie” to experience the oscillations. Professor Frederick Burt Farquharson, an engineering professor at the University of Washington, was hired by the Washington Toll Bridge Authority to make wind-tunnel tests and recommend solutions in order to reduce the oscillations of the bridge. Professor Farquharson and his students built a 1:200-scale model of the bridge and a 1:20-scale model of a section of the deck. The first studies concluded on November 2nd, 1940, and the two solutions that were proposed were to drill holes in the lateral girders and along the deck so that the air flow could circulate through them (in this way reducing lift forces), or to give a more aerodynamic shape to the transverse section of the deck by adding fairings or deflector vanes along the deck, attached to the girder fascia. On November 7th, 1940 in the Tacoma Narrows strait of Puget Sound between Tacoma and the Kitsap Peninsula, it was windy enough to set the bridge swaying dangerously from side to side. On this date the last person across the bridge was a Tacoma News Tribune editor, who was forced to abandon his car and his daughter’s dog, Tubby, a black male cocker spaniel, and crawl some 500 yards to the safety of the toll plaza. Professor Farquharson and a news photographer attempted to rescue Tubby during a lull, but the dog was too terrified to leave the car and bit one of the rescuers. Tubby died when the bridge fell, and neither his body nor the car were ever recovered. Coatsworth received $450.00 ($7,600 by current standards) for his car and $364.40 ($6,100 by current standards) in reimbursement for the contents of his car, including Tubby. The footage of the bridge collapse is now is still shown to engineering, architecture, and physics students as a cautionary tale. In many physics textbooks the event is presented as an example of elementary forced resonance with the wind providing an external periodic frequency that matched the natural structural frequency, though its actual cause of failure was aeroelastic flutter. Nearly 10 years after the bridge collapsed a new Tacoma Narrows Bridge opened in the same location, using the original bridge’s tower pedestals and cable anchorages. The portion of the bridge that fell into the water now serves as an artificial reef. Today is the midpoint of Autumn. And today is the birthday of my son Matthew, and it is quite alarming to me (and perhaps to him) that he turns thirty today (1986).

We woke up at 7:00 am in our rooms at the Inn at Lost Creek in Mountain Village, Colorado. I did my Book Devotional Reading, then we ate the Continental Breakfast downstairs. Back in our room I did my Internet Devotional Reading, then addressed Birthday Cards to Richard’s sister Bonnie in Texas and to my friend Dago in Mississippi.

When we went down to get the car at 10:15 am I mailed my Birthday Cards. We drove down to Telluride and went grocery shopping for gumbo supplies. We arrived back at our motel at 11:30 am, and at 12:00 pm we walked down to Crazy Elk Pizza for lunch; because it is not ski season yet (there is not even snow on the ground), all of the cool boutiques are not open yet.

Back upstairs, I set up my Moon Phase Schedule for next year while Richard made chicken gumbo. The First Quarter Moon arrived at 1:53 pm. I ordered my Chanukah menorah candles from Amazon, then organized my National Parks Explorer Edition Passport Book. We ate gumbo (Richard had the front desk people come up for some), and we called Matthew to wish him a Happy Birthday. We relaxed for the rest of the evening. I will finish this Daily Update and go read. Our LSU Tigers will play a home Exhibition College Basketball game with the Reinhardt Eagles tonight, and our New Orleans Pelicans (0-6, 0-2) will play a home NBA game with the Golden State Warriors (4-2, 1-1); I will record the scores of both games in tomorrow’s Daily Update .

National Vocation Awareness Week continues. With no Saints to honor, we will note that tomorrow is Election Day, when we vote for a new President, and also vote for Congressional offices. We plan to do nothing but relax tomorrow.  And our New Orleans Pelicans will play an Away NBA game with the Sacramento Kings.

Our Parting Quote this Monday evening comes to us from Joe Frazier, American boxer. Born in 1944 in Beaufort, South Carolina, he was the twelfth child born to poor African-American farmers. As a child his left arm was torn badly when he fell running from the family hog; as the family could not afford a doctor, the arm had to heal on its own, and Frazier was never able to keep it fully straight again. He left the farm at age 15, and won Golden Gloves Heavyweight Championships in 1962, 1963 and 1964. His only loss in three years as an amateur was to Buster Mathis. who also beat him for a spot on the 1964 U.S. Olympic Boxing team. Frazier went to Tokyo anyway as an alternate, sparring with any of the Olympic boxers who wanted some action. Mathis was injured, so Frazier fought in his place, entering the semi-final round as the only American boxer left. He broke his left thumb beating the Soviet boxer, and did not tell anyone about his damaged hand; he was not up to his usual form in the final match, but beat a German boxer to win the USA’s only 1964 Olympic boxing gold medal, Frazier turned professional in 1965. By February 1967 he had scored 14 wins and his star was beginning to rise. This culminated with his first appearance on the cover of Ring Magazine. In this same month he met Muhammad Ali; Ali said Frazier would never stand a chance of “whipping” him, not even in his wildest dreams. Later that year Ali was stripped of his world heavyweight title due to his refusal to be inducted into the military during the Vietnam War; Frazier and Mathis then fought for the vacated title, with Frazier winning by a knockout in the 11th round. On February 16th, 1970, Frazier faced WBA Champion Jimmy Ellis at Madison Square Garden. His decisive win over Ellis was a frightening display of power and tenacity. Then came what was hyped as the “Fight Of The Century,” his first fight with Muhammad Ali, who had launched a comeback in 1970 after a three year suspension from boxing. This would be the first meeting of two undefeated heavyweight champions, since Ali (31–0) had not lost his title in the ring, but rather been stripped because of his refusal to be inducted in the Armed Forces, some considered him to be the true champion. This fight was to crown the one, true heavyweight champion in the kind of media-frenzied atmosphere not seen since Joe Louis’ youth. In a brutally competitive contest, Frazier lost a number of early rounds but took Ali’s combinations without backing down. As Ali started to slow in the middle rounds, Frazier came on strong, landing hard shots to the body as well as the powerful left hooks to the head. Consequently, Frazier won a clear, 15-round, unanimous decision. Ali was taken to the hospital immediately after the fight where he was found to have a severely broken jaw that had happened mid-fight. Frazier spent time in the hospital during the ensuing month, the exertions of the fight having been exacerbated by his existing health problems, such as hypertension and a kidney infection. Ultimately, Frazier lost his undefeated record of 29–0 and his world championship at the hands of the unbeaten George Foreman on January 22nd, 1973, in Kingston, Jamaica. Frazier began working to regain his title; his second fight against Ali took place on January 28th, 1974, in New York City. In contrast to their previous meeting, the bout was a non-title fight, with Ali winning a disputed 12-round unanimous decision. The fight was somewhat disappointing, with a lot of action being blunted by continuous clinching. In March 1975, Frazier again fought Ellis, the man from whom he had originally taken the WBA title, in Melbourne, Australia, knocking him out again in nine rounds. The win again established him as the number one heavyweight challenger for the title that was now held by Ali, following an eighth-round knockout of Foreman in the famous “Rumble in the Jungle” in October 1974. Ali and Frazier met for the third and final time in Quezon City (a district within the metropolitan area of Manila), the Philippines, on October 1st, 1975: the “Thrilla in Manila.” Ali took every opportunity to mock Frazier, again calling him ‘”The Gorilla,” and generally trying to irritate him. The fight was far more action-filled than the previous encounter and was a punishing display on both sides under oppressively hot conditions, with Ali winning the the fight. Frazier fought Foreman again in 1976, but was beaten, at which time he retired from boxing. He made a cameo appearance in the movie Rocky later in 1976 and dedicated himself to training local boxers in Philadelphia, where he grew up, including training some of his own eleven children as boxers. During the late 1970s Frazier created a soul-funk group called Joe Frazier and the Knockouts, recording a number of singles and touring the United States and Europe. He attempted a boxing comeback in 1981, and retired again for good after one fight. Frazier’s overall record was 32 wins, 4 losses and 1 draw, with 27 wins by knockout. He won 73 percent of his fights by knockout, compared to 60 percent for Ali and 84 percent for Foreman. He was a member of the International Boxing Hall Of Fame. In 1986 Frazier appeared as the “corner man” for Mr. T against Roddy Piper at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum as part of WrestleMania 2. In 1989 Frazier joined Ali, Foreman, Norton and Holmes for the tribute special Champions Forever. He appeared as himself in an episode of The Simpsons (“Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?”) in 1992, in which he was supposed to have been beaten up by Barney Gumble in Moe’s Tavern. Frazier’s son objected and Frazier was instead shown beating up Gumble and putting him in a trash can. Frazier released his autobiography in March 1996 entitled Smokin’ Joe: The Autobiography of a Heavyweight Champion of the World, Smokin’ Joe Frazier. He appeared in another episode of The Simpsons (“Homer’s Paternity Coot”) in 2006. Since the debut of the Fight Night series of games, Frazier appeared in Fight Night 2004Fight Night Round 2Fight Night Round 3Fight Night Round 4 and Fight Night Champion, games made by EA Sports. After years of remaining bitter, Frazier told Sports Illustrated in May 2009 that he no longer held hard feelings for Ali (died 2011): “Boxing is the only sport you can get your brain shook, your money took and your name in the undertaker book.”

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