The Manhattan Project--2016 A to Z Theme

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

II x X = XX


          When I was X the world was magical. Nearly all life before that age was filled with magic, dreams, and imagination. The playful chimeras of my mindscape entertained my idle hours while monsters of doubt and ambiguous unfounded fears rarely haunted me.

          I would have been in grade IV at the time. It was MCMLXI. JFK was the president of the USA. The Cuban Missile Crisis was not yet an issue, but the tension of the Cold War cast a continual pall over the nation's psyche. The threat of nuclear war was taken seriously by the adults, but for me it was the subject matter of apocalyptic films that I found entertaining and a dark curiosity concerning the real possibility that something like that could really happen. In reverent wonder, I would often look at the pictures in the Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedia of the aftermath of Hiroshima.

          Living in San Diego at that time, my summer days were spent playing in the canyons near our house. During the school year I played violin in the school orchestra and always made good grades. I had a strong interest in girls, but I didn't exactly know why--and I was too shy to do anything about it.

          These were idyllic times when the days wafted past like the clouds in the sky, when thoughts were as frivolous as school carnivals, and planning for the future didn't go much further than checking the line-up of horror movies on the Friday late show on TV. My parents let me stay up all night on Fridays if I wanted and sleep until noon on Saturday.


           When I was XX I looked for magic in the world and tried to cram as much of it in my life as I could. It was MCMLXXI and I was in my second year of college. I was working during the summer to pay the very inexpensive costs of going to a state university. Other than that I was "working for the weekend" as the group Loverboy would sing about X years later.

           If I hadn't been going to school, going to Viet Nam would have probably been my only other option. None of us wanted to go to Viet Nam. Fortunately I had a high draft number and wasn't too worried about it. Most of my other friends were either also students, ineligible for the draft, or just waiting to be called. A few went and came back. Some who weren't really friends, but guys I'd gone to high school with, didn't come back. We watched the reports of the war on the evening news and sometimes the students staged protests. There was often some good music at these protests, and there were always young women.

          I had an even stronger interest in girls now and now I knew why--but I was often too shy to do much about it. Most of the time, when I wasn't at school or at work, I was hanging out with my buddies. We would spend hours cruising back roads with gas that cost XXXV cents per gallon. Or stay up late playing music or just talking. Sometimes we'd stay up until dawn and then I'd go to bed and sleep until noon.

My Conclusion



           May 2nd is next Monday and in case you haven't heard you that's the day of The A to Z Challenge Reflections Mega Post.  This is when you can let your thoughts about the Challenge be heard.   A Linky list will go up this Sunday Eastern United States time in order to accommodate those of you who are a day ahead of us.   We request that you not add your link to the list until you have actually posted your Challenge Reflections and then enter the actual link to your Reflections post to the list.  Please try to enter your link accurately so we don't have to go back to edit it.   It will be a blog hop and you will be able to easily add the list to your site if you wish.   We hope to see all of you on Monday.


              Were your dreams at age 20 much different than the dreams you had at age 10?   Were you affected by the Cold War or Viet Nam?   Do you know your Roman numerals?



  1. Very creative approach. Bonus of X points.

    Moody Writing

  2. What a nice way to share more of your history using the letter X. If you would have went to Vietnam, your life would have probably been very different than it is now.

    Yes, my dreams at 20 were much different than the dreams I had at age 10. When I was 10, I planned to build a mansion up from the ground, from scratch. I even made blueprints for it. I was born much, much later than those wars, so no, I was not affected by the Cold War or Viet Nam. If watching movies counts, then yes, I have been affected by some of the war movies that I've watched that are based on different wars.

    These movies offer a perspective that I believe I needed to develop to understand the human condition and certain issues such as conflict, foreign policy, war and other things, but more specifically, they helped me understand how things were during those times, even if some of the films were an exaggerated interpretation of what went on.

    Yes and No, well, I'll just say no. That's my final answer. LOL.

    I only know them up until a certain point, but I was able to follow your story along just fine :)

    The Madlab Post

  3. Good way of using the letter X. very informative, enjoyed the read Lee.

    Have a nice day.

  4. II x X=XX ..Clever!
    Alphabet X had a story to tell :)

  5. This is a lovely post; very creative dealing with the X problem, and its a very evocative telling of your San Diego youth. It felt like being part of a movie.

    I've also got a bit of a query on the 'mega post', as I've never encountered this before. To get it straight, we make a post of our reflections on our own blog, and then use the link to that post into a big linky list on your blog? Or do we make the reflections post in the comments section? (I'm sure all will become clear on the day in any case!) Thanks.

  6. Good use of X. Thanks for the glimpse into your past.
    I will post reflections on May 2 but I have no idea how to tie into your "linky list". I've tried this before and failed miserably.

  7. very creative and interesting loved it

  8. Brilliant use of X! I still have a few of the dreams I had when I was X - I still haven't gotten a pony, and I still want to live on my own private island somewhere. But I DON'T still want to have 10 kids!!!

  9. Man, I'm lucky I caught on here cause it reminded me of Algebra which was where math began to fail me... or I it I guess:-) Such an interesting live you've been living, that's for sure. Stop in & read X is for Xylocopa

  10. I know my Roman numerals! And hey, you just hit 1000 followers, Lee.

  11. I was relieved to find your title wasn't a math problem! whew!
    Loved the first part at age X. Well written and heartfelt..."When I was 10, the world was magical." Great lead for a story...
    Sad to see this challenge end...I'll be here Monday to see if everyone else agrees.
    My dream at age 20 was simply to be a good wife. At age 55 (soon), I think I am. :)

  12. Inspirational use of X. I'm impressed. It's also interesting to see how different your life was on the other side of "The Pond". I hadn't thought about how Vietnam and conscription affected you regular guys. As for dreams, at X I thought I'd marry and live happily ever after. By the time I was XX I realised that was a fairy tale.

  13. Well, not quite sure I remember back to when I was 20. I had dreams about writing that hit record, recording on Capital Records, joining the Grand Ole Opry. Now that I am a little past double nickels, I just want to serve the Lord faithfully and my dream is to plant a church. So I guess they are very different.

    We were affected by the cold war. We declared war and fought the cold this winter like never before. We bout froze to death this winter.

    I did not have to go in country but am for benefits sake a Viet Nam Era Vet- went in 72 just as it ended.

    No, I don't know Roman numerals at all. Hate them sometimes when I have to look up a Psalm and all there are are letters that are like Greek to me. I know they are Latin.
    I outline lessons and sermons with the 1A 1B 1C 2A 1B 1C etc system.

    Good post!

  14. this is clever.. I would never think to do that... My dreams at 10 and 20 were so different.... I am the worst at most roman numerals.. and I am embaressed to say that.

  15. I was born in 1950 (don't know my Roman Numerals) so yes, the cold war and Vietnam were part of my life. Boys I knew went away as cocky lads, and came back broken men, and we treated them dreadfully! Vietnam was a nursery for the Hell's Angels and other biker gangs. and for those of us who stayed home, there was sex, drugs and rock and roll to survive. I wouldn't be XX again for any ammount of $$$.

  16. I thought your post was going to be a math problem too. Instead it's so creative - well done! Were my dreams different at XX? I think I was smarter when I was X. I was a bit of a nit-wit at XX. I think I got better at XXX (and I'm not going any further!)

  17. Hi Lee .. love the X approach .. I had to leave my shores .. and came to yours a little way up the coast and then on to Portland ..

    Cheers and I'll be there Sunday .. Hilary

  18. Great post! Roman numerals are so fun. Thank you for hosting this challenge. It has truly been an enjoyable experience.

  19. Mood-- Thanks for the bonus!

    Nicole -- I have tended to like movies about Nam, whereas most Vets don't seem to like most of those movies. But we are seeing things from a different perspective and making different interpretations. They usually take them literally and say they are not realistic, and I see many of them as symbolic.

    Yvonne & Uma -- Thank you both for your comments.

    Tim--You are correct. You write your thoughts or whatever you want to say about the Challenge on your own blog and then after you've posted it add the precise link for that post to the Linky list so that the rest of us can easily find that post. Look forward to seeing what you and everyone else has to say.

  20. X-cellent use of X.
    I have to attempt the A to Z challenge someday.

  21. MybabyJohn -- It's really quite easy to add yourself to the Linky List, but if you do have a problem then let me know and I can add it for you.

    becca -- Thank you!

    Li --10 kids would be more than I'd want unless I had a massive living space and a staff of childcare workers and a whole lot of money.

    Up -- I was trying for the Algebra effect and I see I was somewhat successful for the comments.

    Alex -- Yes, I saw "Lola" became #1000. Now I need to figure out who Lola is so I can mention her on my blog.

    Rae -- Thank you for the kind words. Sometimes the simple dreams are the best.

    Rosalind -- Young guys back then--and the whole country for that fact--were deeply concerned about Viet Nam. And yes, as we enter adulthood reality definitely sets in more and more for most of us.

    Gregg -- The music dreams are often diminished but hopefully the music never dies.

    Lisa -- We don't use Roman numerals that often so nothing to be ashamed of there. I have a struggle trying to decipher dates written that way and that's where I usually see the numerals used.

    Roxie -- I wouldn't mind 20 again if I knew what I know now--what a cliche, but it's true!

    Laura -- You won't see too much math on my blog--I'm not that big on it either.

    Hilary -- I'll check it out.

    Better -- Thank you for doing it. Soon we can slow down a bit. I need a break and I'm sure you probably do as well.

  22. Ah, Lee, so creative. My dreams at X and XX and XXX were so different. My life has definitely not turned out as I imagined it to be, but it is good, now, thank goodness.

  23. I do not know my Romans, I miss my husband when I could not tell the year of a movie. Is the a reason why they use Roman numbers for movies?

    I didn't know about the mega post, glad I dropped by tonight :)

  24. I love this post and your memories! Wonderful! Except for the fact that you made me realize that at XLII years old I now have to use the "L" - thanks so much. :) Bonus points well deserved! And I'm thankful for Tim's question - I just assumed we were posting on this site. I've got it now! Thanks for a fun challenge!

  25. Clever, Arlee!

    No, I'm not very good w/ those Roman numerals. However, I found a wonderful site that does it for me! :)

    Roman Numeral Converter

  26. Karen -- Thank goodness things have gotten better for you--better than the other way around.

    Ocean Girl-- Not sure why they use the Roman numerals for movies, but that's normally the primary place I see them these days. I always have to do a rapid conversion because I like to know when movies came out.

    Kerri -- The L does make it a little more confusing. Hopefully everyone will post Reflections on their own sites and not in my comments, but I guess that would be better then nothing.

    Lisa from Nadir -- That's the site I was using to convert the dates that I used.


  27. An imaginative approach to X. I can't remember what I dreamt of at X - there must have been something:-/

  28. This was a fascinating look at the letter X. Having been born in MCMLXI, I don't have much memory of JFK or the Cuban Missile Crisis. But I do remember the craziness of the 1960s and knowing soldiers were fighting in Vietnam.

    Thanks for a great post!


  29. As already mentioned, clever approach to X!

    You captured the magic of being 10 beautifully! While reading, I was taken back to my own carefree days.


  30. Brilliant post Lee! I was born in MCMLX. I'm not expert at Roman numerals, but I can usually figure out the year old movies were made! I do remember seeing Viet Nam coverage on the news at night. And I remember a lot of the music of the time..When I was XX it was MCMLXXX..things were very different then..I am so enjoying this challenge I'll be kind of upset when it's done! Glad you didn't go to Nam!

  31. much information on the letter (or number) X. My dreams seem to change constantly, but they stay the same, too. I am feel like a newbie to blogging. I have been blogging with very little consistency for a couple years.
    I am late to the challenge...but I am doing it anyway--because I was looking for a way to encourage a more discipline in my writing. Stop by and visit. :) One of my favorites is "Lucy's Barking" but I will be honored if you read anything. Love your work and no, I only know X is 10 and V is 5?

  32. jabblog -- Ideas can come from odd places at times.

    Joyce -- Anyone of school age or older in the US would have had a hard time missing Viet Nam if they were living in the 60's.

    Brianna -- It's nice to have carefree memories of youth.

    Eve -- The Disco era was a crazy time. I remember it well...well maybe not that well.

    Jackie -- Thanks for your visit and I will check out your blog.


  33. I think I will join the mega post on May 2nd.

    I am really bad with Roman numerals, but I do know Ten and twenty so that is good.

  34. Excellent use of the X today!

    I sort of miss our Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedias.

  35. Yes, I know my Roman numerals. I'm a certified math nerd AND word nerd. I'm extra nerdy! I was born in 1965, and lived in Sweden until 1974. I missed the historic events you asked about. But as to the dream thing, when I was 10, I dreamed of being a teacher. And I was, for 8 years. Now I dream of being a "teacher of teachers" someday. But...if you're talking about dreams while I'm asleep, I have recurring nightmares about boats sinking, me drowning. Of flying. And strangely enough, of trying to find a bathroom. Analyze away...
    Tina @ Life is Good

  36. For everyone who had trouble with the letter X today, it's probably only because X is such a strong variable. I've seen things ranging from Roman Numerals to Rope-Playing Game elements to markings, all pertaining to this intriguing letter.

    And thanks for another glimpse into your life, Arlee. You've definitely given younger generations something to ponder and appreciate by virtue of your experiences. I go now to write my reflections post!

  37. Great post!

    My post is up for X.

    Thanks for looking.
    Laura T.

  38. A most clever blog today, Lee. My dreams were to be an artist so being a writer is along the same lines.

  39. Marjorie -- So glad you'll be reflecting on the Challenge with us.

    Karen -- Those encyclopedias were great. Cheaply purchased serially at the grocery store and filled with great information. They not only gave me hours of entertainment, but they were in invaluable resource for school papers for years.

    Tina -- I frequently have the needing to go to the bathroom dreams. I will be trying to find one but keep getting sidetracked or lost until I finally wake up and go. I don't think much analysis is necessary other than I have to go to the bathroom

    Jeffrey -- It's fun to see how each letter is handled by different bloggers.

    Laura -- Thanks!

    Stephen -- Both fields involve creativity.


  40. NICE X, Lee :) and the trip down your memory lane :)

  41. Amazing post, Lee, as always.

    I have shivers whenever I hear the story of those draft numbers ...

    I wasn't affected by Vietnam nor Cold War since I wasn't born then or was too small in the later one, but as you know in the relatively short life I did survive two wars, bloody bombings, hunger and poverty, the change and fall of four of five countries I lived in ... Wish I haven't survived any of those ...

  42. I think I was affected by the Cold War more so than my peers, perhaps because my parents had me late in life and they shared their views with me concerning that era. My dad was a WWII veteran while most of my peers parents were hippies. Therefore I've always had a different view of the world from them. LOL

  43. Thanks for the clarification Arlee, appreciated.

  44. Great way of using the letter X.

    Not really--Vietnam and the Cold War are mostly history to me, although my uncle was in the Vietnam War.

    The A-Z Challenge Reflections post sounds like fun! I'll definitely write a post for it.

  45. San -- Thanks!

    Dezmond -- You were more directly affected by war than most of us. I have been curious about some of your thoughts about those conflicts.

    Sherri -- I was part of the hippie era but I was never an active antiwar advocate.

    Tim -- You're welcome. You asked a question that others had wondered about as well.

    Golden Eagle -- Look forward to hearing your thoughts about the Challenge.


  46. Brilliant! I drove myself nuts (a short trek) trying to come up with a topic for X. You rocked it!

    At ten, I was already kind of a forty year old--serious and focused. Only now, at nearly 50, am I inclined to be a silly dreamer. I like this better.

    I’m A_Z Blogging and my “X” post is right here.

  47. eXcellent X post! Very clever how you wrapped up historical events given in 10 year increments, and sealed it with a X! I look forward to participating in the Reflections Post, but may need assistance with the link if possible. Thanks, Julie

  48. I am new to the A to Z Challenge and am only on D. X was already posing a problem in my mind and you tackled it fantastically. Wish I had heard of the challenge earlier but am enjoying reading all your posts. Check out my A at

  49. Oh my I was 10 almost half a century ago give a couple of years. Life was simpler then!


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