Past Discussions Come to Mind

The last few days have been amazing watching the news and seeing all the flooding up and down the East Coast. During the course of these days, we saw bridges washed out, streets flooded to the tops of pole signs and the devastation that homes had gone through with rising waters near flood zones.

It brought me back to a conversations I had with Peter not too long ago. It reminded me of conversations in the past we had together. And, like everyone who really knew Peter could attest, he liked to talk about everything. Math, theories, science, art, mechanics, physics ... you name it and you could have a long thoughtful discussion with him.

To give you an idea of what these conversations could be like:

One day, we were talking about how all cars have motorized windows now. You never see the crank windows. Peter and I were talking about the possibly usefullness of those types of windows. He pondered whether crank windows would be more useful than motorized if perhaps we drove into a lake or drove into a flood zone. With a crank window, even if the car's motor seized, you could still crank the window and climb through the window to safety.

This of course led to if, for some reason, his father's 1970s car drove off a bridge, and hit the water, what would be the best way to escape the car. Would you be able to push the door open and jump out and away from the car plummeting into the ocean? This led to Peter using his mathematical mind to determine the speed of the car times the drop from the bridge, how many seconds you'd have to fling the door open and jump. Or, would it really matter because in the case of a bridge accident, would you just die on impact of the windshield shattering against the force of the car hitting the water.

I remember we discussed this for about an hour, as we figured out which scenario had the best outcome and whether or not it was possible, that if you had an old crank window car, that you could even open it under water. And, if you could open it, what would be the best way to do it ... a little at a time, or would you open it as fast as you could and escape through the window.

It's impossible to explain exactly what it was like to get into a conversation with Peter. It could seem like a trivial thing, but after an hour of talking about it, you ended up with a lesson in physics, a mathematic session and a serious discussion with a man who joked about most things ... except when it came to the matter of the logical mind.

We concluded that if you could keep a car that had crank windows -- it was a good thing for most scenarios -- except driving off a bridge.

It's a good reminder when I drive over the Brooklyn Bridge.


  1. I have had similar conversations with a friend many times. She has a crazy fear of being in a car and going off a bridge. So we have had to discuss "the escape plan" many times to ease her mind! I love having conversations like this. I think you learn a lot especially if there are a few people involved and you hear lots of different opinions. I hate how much the workings of cars are motorized now days. We have a car from the 70's and I love how we manually do things rather than press a button. I must admit I am totally mesmerized by Mother Nature and seeing what she is capable of. With the way the earth is going there will be a lot more to see yet. Peters mind never stopped thinking. I am jealous you got to have these types of conversations with him.I love having conversations about survival in different situations. Of course if I can only have one person with me, I always choose Peter. He can sing to me, dazzle me with his good looks and lift heavy things :)

  2. That must have been one heck of a conversation. Though, I would have been lost when it came to mathematical formulas (math bewilders me). Peter's noggin was just crammed with so much in the way of practical knowledge, and the ability to use reasoning in a creative and effective way. Would have loved to have been a fly on the wall.

    For me, I would opt for the hand crank type of windows. I guess in the case of a bridge accident, we all could only hope there would be some way to get out of the car before impacting the water. I think those small emergency hammers are pretty cool...the ones where you can hit the glass in a car if you are trapped underwater and help the glass break so you can get out. I wanted to get one, even though I don't have a car(!)

    Thanks for sharing this one, enjoy all these stories!

    ~ L.

  3. LOL, my husband and I had that exact same discussion not even a month ago. He told me you have to roll the windows down to equalize the pressure. It'd take a few seconds for the battery to be drowned so you'd have to act fast with electric windows. This should open some good conversation on the topic.

    Oh, we concluded you wanted to keep an emergency axe under the seat so you could bust the glass if need be. ;)

  4. I always look forward to this blog and felt this post was particularly appropriate to me. At the moment I am very sick with atrial flutter (a heart thing) due to a childhood illness (I am 28 now).

    Tomorrow I will be forced to make a decision about my treatment and as you can imagine it is easy for emotion to get in the way of these things - and emotions can be the worst thing with this kind of problem :) So tonight instead of worrying I will be doing my homework and make a logical decision I hope.

    And btw - I have just the albums on my MP3 to drown out the sound of old men coughing up lungs around me :)

  5. Actually, going off the Brooklyn Bridge even without a car would probably kill you from the impact, so I think with a car it's a done deal.

    But - if a car gets underwater by rolling in, or dumping off the end of a dock, the best way to get the door open is to roll the window down a little and let the car fill with water. Once the pressure is equalized on both sides of the door, it can be opened. The water pressure pushing on the outside of a sealed car with air inside makes is impossible to open.

    Scary thought, but there it is.

  6. This is very interesting. Not only was peter a musical genius but he is very intelligent as well. I would have to agree about the car with crank windows. It would have been very interesting to listen/read peters theory about astrology and the planets and different life forms.. especially things that have yet to be discovered...etc..etc. This is a great post thank you for sharing :)

  7. I LOVE smart boys!!! There's endless conversation IF you are brave enough to go there. And the person you are talking to doesn't mind sharing his intelligence without degrading someone in the process. :)

  8. I seen this on Mythbusters(good show) and they busted the myth about letting the car sink so the pressure equalizes so you can just pop the door open. The problem with that method is that it takes like a few minutes for that to happen and most people can't hold their breath that long. You can open the door however on initial contact up until water is about at waist level if your thinking fast enough and as far as having crank windows, if car is fully submerged the pressure would be so great that you would probaly break off the window crank before you got the window down, you'd be better off trying to break the glass out. Whatever you do, DON'T PANIC! (-)

  9. Do you know who Pete's favorite author or book was? Cheers.

  10. Yesterday I bought a book I hadn´t seen before. I love books and read pretty much anything I get in my hands. Well this book´s name is "A Discovery Of Witches" and is written by the author Deborah Harkness. It is described as a mix between the Harry Potter books and Twilight, however I also find some resemblence with Anne Rice´s books. The story in it is amazing, the book stretches over 654 pages and I´m already on page 303, it is about a powerful witch refusing to use her powers and a 1500 year old vampire. The witch discovers an old manuscript that had gone missing during the 1800`s. The vampire had been searching for this manuscript since then and worked as a professor in the sciense department on the university in Oxford and studied mainly chemistry, math and fysiks. He loved culture and history, and in this book his physiology is described just as...Peters. His manners are offcourse a gentlemans and are very protective and loving of those he love, and guess what on page 301 he sings a lovesong to the witch with a deep barritone voice. The lovesong goes like this: "Ni muer ni viu no guaris, Ni mal no m sent e si l´ai gran, Quar de s´amor no suy devis, Ni no sai si ja n´aurai ni quan, Qu´an lieys es tota les mercés, Quém pot sorzer o decazer". It can be translated to: "Nor dying or alive or healing, there is no pain in my decease, for I´m not heald away from her love".
    I am reading this book in norwegian, and in Norway the title is "Alle sjelers natt" wich are a direct translation from All Hallows eve. Needless to say, this book keeps me thinking of Peter and his wonderful personallity adn directly links to his fascination for science. I guess he would have blushed if he knew that he was to be "typecasted" like this in this kind of book. I would have loved to see this book as a movie, and Peter playing the vampire: it would have been perfect for him.

  11. oh, i forgott the last words in the song from the book:" I don`t know if I ever reach it, for all the mercy that give me life or death, are in her power". A song in Peters spirit I would think.

  12. So, I read your blog EVERY DAY. I'm a stay-at-home mama to a 1 year old boy and 3 year old girl and I have to tell you, my daughter Livi LOVES Peter! LOVES his music, LOVES when I play TON youtube videos and LOVES to look at his pictures, hehe...her favorite song is Black No.1 and I play it for her every time we go somewhere in the car. (though I turn it down when he says "was like F****** the dead") It's so cute and funny to see her little head bopping to the music, she even plays air guitar and drums at the appropriate times and attempts to sing along with the "black, black, black, black number one" chorus, it cracks me up!! She just came inthe room as I was reading this post, smiled and pointed at the picture of the guys above and said "Type O Negatives." So young but she has such good taste!

  13. Its so weird you post this Darcie. My friend's sister drowned during hurricane Irene because she drove into what she thought was shallow water. Her car had power windows and she wasnt able to get out of the car. So sad!

  14. Rose from NY now in CA1:35 AM, September 01, 2011

    The more I read about Peter, the more I respect him. His logical brain reminds me so much of my own son Michael. My son is also someone who thinks things thru in a logical way, weighing all options in any case scenario I present to him. He has countless times been my "go to" person when I am faced with a dilema. Peter was a "go to" guy too. My heart if full for you all once again, the amount of sympathy and sadness I feel for you would not fill an ocean. I so appreciate you all for sharing these stories about a man who was unique, kind, caring, compassionate, sweet, beyond the moon and stars good looking, and talented beyond the beyond. We had him for such a short time, we miss him thru eternity. That car window story was one I too had pondered in the past. The Brooklyn bridge, yes been on it many many times as a child. I miss Brooklyn. Thanks to you for bringing it back into my mind good memories. Much respect and love to you all.

  15. @Carrie - sorry to hear about your friend's sister who drowned ... horrible. I believe I heard about it on the news, which prompted me to remember the conversation with Peter. Terribly small world, huh?

  16. My condolences to Carrie. Sorry to read of your friend's loss. It must've been terrible news to receive. NYC's not accustomed to dealing with the wrath of nature. Digging out and drying off's clearly quite an effort. Haven't read the casualty statistics but it sounds like Irene's aftermath's been harsh.
    Mythbusters was right. My Tech-school physics class studied the math behind this as well. The amount of force required in water at a depth of over 10' would would indeed break a car's manual crank handle and the motor on an electric window would still carry current but cease up due to that required force as well. I've kept a slag-hammer (left over from arc-welding days) under the car-seat since taking that class. Its shape is both pointed enough to shatter a window and terrifying to the ocasional road-perv. It also doubles as a device to break up road-ice and could probably be sharpened and used in primative emergency conditions to perform surgical incisions.
    That conversation with Pete sounds fascinating, and I do envy you for having been so engaged in it. His fascination with scientific principles and mathmatics is one of many reasons I'm hoping he sometimes hangs out with Howard Hughes by now, just to chat. It would be quite something to be a recently departed fly on that wall.
    Pete seemed more like the astronomy type than the astrology type. Scientific problem-solving must've given you, him and the rest of the family an enormous amount of satisfaction and entertainment. Music composition requires a fair amount of critical thought as well. It's no wonder he excelled the way he did.
    Thank you so much for sharing this insight into your uncle's personality and mind with us. Your generosity is greatly appreciated.

  17. #Dunebuggy4 - fascinating that you mentioned Howard Hughes - he was one of Peter's picks of "people he'd like to sit down and have dinner with" during a conversation we had at a gathering. You are in tune with Pete's thinking ... nice.