Tag Archives: Journal

My grandfather’s first stage acting gig

My grandfather wrote in his diary some of his thoughts about his first experience acting on stage back in October of 1916:

We opened with Sherlock Holmes. The director gave me my first opportunity to be an actor as a “John, one from the underworld.” I still feel my knees shaking today, as I went on stage with my English. I will never forget this performance. I had never seen so many people as there were in this first performance on Sunday evening. After the third act the curtain went up and down for ten minutes. The ladies of the company received many wonderful bouquets.

In November of 2001 I was on the on stage at the Cocoa Village Playhouse for my first show there and I can relate to grandpa’s nervousness and adrenaline.  I was “Drake the Butler” in Annie the Musical, and I will never forget that show and all the wonderful cast and crew that were involved.

You can read my grandfather’s entire journal by clicking below.  It’s quite interesting!  Of course, I’m biased!   🙂

http://www.leucht.com/history/My_Journey_To_America-Journal_of_Kurt_William_Leucht-1914_to_1920.pdf

Thanks for your interest!
Kurt

My grandfather’s account of the 1918 Spanish flu

My German immigrant grandfather in Peoria wrote the following account in his diary in the fall of 1918.  It’s sort of timely due to current health events going on around the world right now.

It’s been five weeks since I last wrote anything. There have been great changes in Peoria and the world. Since the beginning of October, in almost all the states of America, a terrible epidemic has broken out, called the “Spanish Influenza.” It was most notable in the barracks among the soldiers. It begins with a cold, then a fever and so on until pneumonia sets in, and most die. I was sick with it. I immediately went to the doctor and spent three days in bed. Since I did not have any real care at home, I suggested that I go to the hospital. After two days in the hospital, I felt much better. I was there for a week. All I needed was a good rest, which I received. I did not go back to work right away and the expenses cost me a lot of money. I had used up all my savings.

After reading up on the Spanish flu, I realized that he’s pretty lucky to have made it through alive. According to wikipedia, the 1918 flu pandemic which lasted January 1918 through December 1920 was an unusually deadly influenza pandemic. It infected 500 million people across the world and killed 50 to 100 million of them — three to five percent of the world’s population — making it one of the deadliest natural disasters in human history.  Wow.  Can you imagine losing 3 to 5 percent of everyone you know?  That’s a lot of friends and family to lose from this one flu.

1918FluVictimsStLouis

[Red Cross workers remove a Spanish flu victim from their St Louis home, from wikipedia]

Most influenza outbreaks disproportionately kill juvenile, elderly, or already weakened patients.  But the 1918 pandemic killed predominantly healthy young adults. Modern research, using virus taken from the bodies of frozen victims, has concluded that the virus kills through an overreaction of the body’s immune system. The strong immune reactions of young adults ravaged their bodies, but the weaker immune systems of children and older adults resulted in fewer deaths among those groups.  Amazing.

Why was it called the Spanish flu?  To maintain morale, wartime censors minimized early reports of illness and mortality in Germany, Britain, France, and the United States, but papers were free to report the epidemic’s effects in neutral Spain creating a false impression of Spain as especially hard hit — thus the pandemic’s nickname Spanish flu.

You can read my grandfather’s entire journal by clicking below.  It’s quite interesting!  Of course, I’m biased!   🙂

http://www.leucht.com/history/My_Journey_To_America-Journal_of_Kurt_William_Leucht-1914_to_1920.pdf

Thanks for your interest!
Kurt

My unexpected (but fully paid) vacation: Day 9

This is my little digital journal from the government shutdown.  Today is day 9 (Friday Oct 11th), not counting the weekend.  Click here to see all of my government shutdown journal entries.

Today I got up at 7am because I wanted to get canoeing pretty early.  I could have set my alarm to get up before sunrise, but I’m on vacation so I just got up whenever I woke up today.  I checked Facebook real quick and then ate some breakfast burgers, since they make for a pretty quick meal.

Then I drove about 30 minutes to Pine Island Conservation Area.  Here it is on Google Maps.  My original NASA boss, Gary, told me about this place many many years ago and I’ve been wanting to check it out and have just never made the time.  This government shutdown is allowing me to do all sorts of stuff that I’ve been meaning to do, though.

There was a map station at the entrance and according to the map there were two separate canoe trails.  A 2.3 mile loop run and a 3.0 mile run.  The loop was obvious on the map, but the 3 mile run was not completely obvious to me at the time.  After studying it later at home, I’m fairly certain that the 3 mile run and the 2.3 mile loop overlap on the Indian River side.

I started on the south side of the sanctuary at the start of the 3 mile run.  My thinking was that I would quit after the 3 mile run run if I was tired.  My problem was that I actually started in a lake next to the run instead of starting in the run.  I didn’t actually realize that I was in the lake till I got to the opposite end and noticed that it didn’t take a sharp right turn as the map showed.  Oops.  No harm, though.  It was a nice warm up run.  The lake was dead calm.  This photo was taken on the lake at about 9:30am.

pine-island-canoeing-1-selfie

Had I used my GPS app on my phone and zoomed out a bit, it would have been obvious that I was not in the correct body of water.  But I didn’t do that.  Oh well.  Lesson learned.  So after I took my tour of the south lake, I got my canoe put in at the start of the 3 mile run and immediately started encountering manatees.  Huge manatees.  Manatees in large groups, no less.  I did my best to avoid them, but these things had no respect for my personal space.  They acted like they owned the place.  🙂

I didn’t see more than a couple jumping fish and some birds in the south lake, but in this canal there were tons of wildlife.  I saw alligators, manatees, ospreys, large cranes, and even a bald eagle.  As soon as I got out into the Indian River, there were tons of fish running in schools and lots of fish jumping out of the water.  This is a fisherman’s paradise.  I, however, am not a fisherman.

The breeze was starting to pick up and work against me while I was traveling north on the Indian River, but I stayed close to the shore where the breeze was minimal.  By the time I got up into the north part of the sanctuary and at the start of the 2.3 mile loop, the breeze was calm and I felt pretty good so I kept going.  I hadn’t really been paddling very hard.  I was just taking a nice leisurely pace.

The north part of the sanctuary has multiple marsh ponds connected by small channels.  There was one spot where I wasn’t even sure I was going to fit my canoe through.  This is a great way to see natural Florida marshland.  This is probably the same landscape that the first settlers saw way back when.

The largest pond at the north end of the sanctuary was a bit of a challenge since the wind was working against me.  I was travelling north and the wind was pushing south.  But I knew as soon as I turned around the northern border, I would be travelling south on the Indian River with the wind at my back, so I pressed on.

So after making the turn around and ending back in the Indian River travelling south, I was expecting the wind to push me south and I was planning on just lazily riding it home.  But apparently the wind died just as I arrived.  It was dead calm.  I don’t believe this happens on the Indian River very often.  It was pretty weird.  The glassy smooth water did allow me to see lots of fish, though.

My rear was starting to hurt from sitting in the canoe, so I stood up and paddled and I could see even more fish.  I know stand up paddle-boarding is a popular activity these days, but is stand up canoeing also a thing?  Did I just start a stand up canoeing thing?

You can see a fish in mid-air in the photo below.  You can also see that I’m in about 1.5 feet of water.  The lakes and canals in this area are fairly deep, but the Indian River is very shallow unless you are out in the middle where the boat channel is located.

pine-island-canoeing-2-jumping-fish

In this glassy smooth water, I also saw some dolphins feeding.  I didn’t get close enough to them to get a good photo, though.  I saw some small stingrays in the Indian River too.  Here is a photo I took of a small stingray resting on the bottom.

pine-island-canoeing-3-stingray

So when it was all said and done, I actually ended up canoeing on both trails, plus repeating a large portion of the 3 mile run, plus a lake.  By my estimate, I canoed 7 miles or more today.  I started a little after 9am and finished a little after 4pm, so I was out on the water for 7 total hours.  It was a long day, but I was not paddling hard during any of my day.  Most of the time I was just taking it easy and paddling gently.  Although, that being said, I’m sure my shoulders and back muscles are going to be killing me tomorrow.

The weather today was really nice.  The high temperature was 85, I think.  It was mostly sunny all day long.  I think I applied SPF 50 sunblock three separate times today.  I think I got a bit of sun on the back of my neck, though, because the last time I applied it was sweaty and I don’t think it took very well.

Here is a Google map of the Pine Island Conservation Area marked up showing my path today.  This is not a GPS trail … I did not use my GPS today because I wasn’t sure the battery in my phone would last that long and I wanted to make sure my phone was available for emergencies.  This is just a satellite image that I manually marked up with my path.  Click on the image for a full size version.

Kurts-pine-island-route

So that was basically my entire day today.  Afterwards, I stopped for some ice cream.  Then I got home and rinsed off all the canoeing stuff, then I took a shower and ate a grilled swiss cheese sandwich.  Then I relaxed on the couch for a bit and now I’m writing this blog post.

It’s sorta funny that sitting at the table typing into my computer, I still feel like I’m standing in my canoe and it is gently rocking back and forth.  It’s just a bit dizzying.  I wonder how long it will take to wear off.  I wonder if it will impact me getting to sleep tonight.  I’m about to find out because it’s 10:30pm and I’ve had a long day in the sun, so I’m going to bed now.

So that was day nine of my unplanned furlough slash vacation.  My to-do list had 21 items on it last night when I went to bed.  Tonight it now has 20 items on it.  I’ll take it.

What will Monday hold for this furloughed government employee? Stay tuned! 🙂

Kurt

My unexpected (but fully paid) vacation: Day 8

This is my little digital journal from the government shutdown.  Today is day 8 (Thursday Oct 10th), not counting the weekend.  Click here to see all of my government shutdown journal entries.

Today I slept in till 10am because I was up pretty late last night working on my computer.  After getting up, I caught up on my Facebook news feed and threw in a load of laundry.  Throughout the day today I put laundry either in or out of the washer and dryer in between other tasks I was working on.  At the end of the day I had washed and dried 4 separate loads of laundry.  Yay me!  🙂

I know I should exercise more often than just once a week, but this is all I’ve motivated myself to do so far.  Today I fast walked for just over three miles while listening to my Adam Ant station on Pandora on my phone.  It was a nice cool morning today and it feels like Fall is trying to make an appearance in Central Florida.

fast-walking

It’s weird that the Adam Ant station plays Duran Duran, but the Duran Duran station does NOT play Adam Ant.  What’s up with that, Pandora?  Are they similar to each other or not?

I want to thank my sister and her friend Missy and also my friend Mick for introducing me to Adam Ant along with lots of other great British music in the early 80s.  I was probably 12 or 13 years old which is probably too young for many of the lyrics in Adam Ant’s songs, but I was probably not understanding the lyrics anyways.  I think I turned out okay, regardless.  Now that I’m older and wiser and actually paying close attention, it seems to me that Adam Ant sang mostly about sex, but he also sang quite a bit about pirates and also a little bit about native american Indians.  Weird.

I tried to beat my fast walking time from last week, but I was not successful.  Trying to take my own self portrait while fast walking may have been a factor.  I’m not quite coordinated enough to work the camera on my phone without slowing down, I suppose.  After my little hike was over, I passed a yard sale walking back to my house, so I quickly checked it out.  There wasn’t anything there that I needed to have.  As a matter of fact, I noticed a pair of gently used men’s underwear and also some sexy women’s lingerie.  That’s real classy, people.   Real classy.

Then I sat in my Adirondack chair on my front porch for a while and enjoyed a banana and papaya smoothie.  I caught up on my email while I sat there and I also sent out some feelers for any potential TV or film background talent needs that might be currently active in Central Florida.  I’ve done some extra/background work in the past and I wouldn’t mind doing some now since it would not conflict with my NASA work schedule.  So if you know of any leads, please let me know.  Thanks.

After I pried myself up out of my comfortable Adirondack chair, I went into the shop and changed out my old mower blades with a brand new set.  I was not able to get them off the other day by hand, but I borrowed an air powered impact wrench the other day from a friend and it worked like a charm.  I have a convenient setup in my shop where I can lift up the front of the mower using a cable winch puller (a.k.a. come a long winch) inside the doorway between two rooms in my shop.

mower-lift

Notice that the winch is attached to the header in the doorway which is essentially a strong beam that is designed to support a load.  The rafters/trusses that you can see in the background of the photo (that the lights are attached to) are not designed specifically to support a heavy downward load applied at the lower horizontal members.  Those horizontal members are designed primarily for tension.  You could cause some structural damage if you applied heavy loads to those horizontal “beam” looking portions of the trusses.  So be careful.

There is a really simple diagram on this website that shows the forces on a typical truss.  Scroll down a page or two till you see the blue arrows.  (Some of the arrows should show compression and some should show tension, so it’s not perfectly accurate but you get the idea.)

After I put on the new mower blades, I took them for a test drive.  They worked beautifully.  They sounded great and they cut like butter.  It felt kinda like walking in a new pair of shoes.  You feel light on your feet and empowered to go places.  With my new mower blades I felt like I could take on the world … or at least a few large yards.  My yard doesn’t need cutting for several more days, though, so I put the mower away and went looking for my next task.

I realized that I was starting to get hungry, so I went inside and ate my leftover Mr. Submarine sub sandwich from yesterday.  Then I installed trim around the fireplace brick in my living room.  This has needed to be done for two years now … ever since we bought this house … but I’ve been busy and this was not one of my highest priorities.  Don’t judge me … it’s done now.   🙂

It wasn’t exactly a simple job.  Most trim is just nailed into the bottom wood plate of the wall.  But this fireplace trim had to be installed in the direction such that the tall dimension was laying against the brick and the thin dimension was laying against the drywall.  That left me no place to nail the trim to, so I had to glue it.  I used Liquid Nails Indoor Projects adhesive and then I nailed some finish nails into the drywall to hold the trim tightly against the brick while the adhesive dried.  After I remove the finish nails from the drywall, I will have tiny little holes right along the new trim to patch and paint.  Oh well.

fireplace-trim

This odd installation direction is partially because the gap between the drywall and the brick is too large for the thin dimension to cover, but partially because it looks pretty good this way.  After I got my tools put away, I sat down and did some planning for going out in my canoe tomorrow.  The plan is to go out bright and early in the morning, unless it’s real windy.  It’s no fun rowing a canoe against a stiff wind.

Then I ate dinner which was popcorn shrimp wrap … popcorn shrimp, mozzarella cheese, lettuce, Italian dressing all rolled in a soft flour tortilla.  After dinner I spent an hour or so pulling stuff together for canoeing in the morning … including strapping the canoe to the top of the SUV.  Then I showered and now I’m writing this blog post.  That’s pretty much day eight of my unplanned furlough slash vacation.

My to-do list had 24 items on it last night when I went to bed.  Tonight it now has 21 items on it. Not bad at all.

What will tomorrow hold for this furloughed government employee? Stay tuned! 🙂

Kurt

My unexpected (but fully paid) vacation: Day 7

This is my little digital journal from the government shutdown.  Today is day 7 (Wednesday Oct 9th), not counting the weekend.  Click here to see all of my government shutdown journal entries.

Today I got up at 9am and got caught up on my Facebook news feed.  Then I ate a couple breakfast burgers and got dressed to leave the house.

I went to a friend’s house to help them with their home renovations that they’ve been working on.  I spent a couple hours rolling primer in the kitchen and in one of the bedrooms.  Then I cut and installed some kick panels in their kitchen.  Then I removed an old ceiling fan and installed three light fixtures.  I really didn’t need any payment for my work, but my friends bought me lunch at Mr. Submarine, here in Titusville.  It’s a great local joint and I highly recommend it for a quick and inexpensive lunch or dinner.

Then I came home and showered and then went to another friend’s house for a couple of hours for family life group.  Then I came home and promptly remembered that I was supposed to drop by the grocery store for some critical items that we had run out of.  So I hopped back in the car and took care of that errand.  Then I took the garbage and yard waste to the road.

After that, I spent an hour or so designing and drawing out a circuit that I plan to build soon to be driven by my Raspberry Pi single board computer.  I’ll talk details about that project in a separate blog post soon.  Then I caught up on my Facebook one more time and now I’m writing this blog post.  That’s pretty much day seven of my unplanned furlough slash vacation.

My to-do list had 25 items on it last night when I went to bed.  Tonight it now has 24 items on it. So I only got one official thing done today, but unofficially it was a busy and successful day for me.

What will tomorrow hold for this furloughed government employee? Stay tuned! 🙂

Kurt