School Dazed

The first thing that was very weird was walking through the throngs of guys and gals and feeling like I was at a funeral. So quiet.

The last time I remember walking across a college campus there was a low hum which increased to a full scale din when I got to the middle of the pack.

The din was caused from people talking to other people. Today it was just quiet, because every head was buried in their phone, texting, checking Facebook, mail, whatever.

Even the crowd to the right of the screen waiting to buy $1 tacos would forget to look up to order. It’s the way it is.

The second thing that was weird was trying to figure out what the hell I was doing there. Carrying my bag, loaded with my thick book, syllabus, notebook, pens, laptop, working up a ninety five degree sweat after the one mile walk across campus. Not a pretty sight.
sweaty manSweat is crying

The third thing that was weird was sitting among my class of forty plus teens…and me.  I was thinking of this political season and the fact that every person in the room had only experienced two presidents, and one of the two was when they were in grade school. Number 3 was 75 days away. I was working on President number 13.
Doesn’t make me wiser, but a hell of lot older.

Yeah, I’m back in college again, just a class this semester. Stuff I need to know.

Technology didn’t pass me by. I’ve kept up with what I needed in life. Computers, tablets, smart phones, apps, 4K-UHD smart TV. But, there were a few things I decided I didn’t need to learn about. Now I do.

The one thing I want to learn about is MIDI. Never thought I wanted to learn about it, or need it. Now I want to learn what I missed and use this knowledge to have a little more fun making music.

MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) is a technical standard that describes a protocol, connectors and digital interface that allows my keyboards, computers and other fun things to talk to each other.

Playing a keyboard was always an analog thing for me. Even though I bought a new keyboard that could be used as a MIDI hookup, I wasn’t interested in messing with that stuff. I just pounded the keys, made some music and that seemed enough.

It isn’t, I want to make some new sounds and create them myself. That’s why I’m back in college taking a Music Technology class.

What’s wonderful is it is a brand new class, new electronic pianos, huge personal Apple screens and a great professor.

Sometimes we come full circle.
I have become what those high school nuns always called me.

BC Renegades

Oh, well.

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She’s Back

In 1988 a wild, crazy, comedy fantasy film captured the box office and made millions of fans. Beetlejuice starred Michael Keaton, Alex Baldwin and Geena Davis. It won an academy award for Best Makeup and three Saturn awards for Best Horror Film, Best Makeup and Best Supporting Actress for Sylvia Sydney. But critical acclaim and widespread recognition was given to the 17 year-old actress that played the Goth teenager, Lydia Deetz. She was born in Winona, Minnesota as Winona Horowitz, but we’ve only known her as Winona Ryder.

Winona Ryder (as Lydia Deetz) Beetlejuice (1988) Directed by Tim Burton USA - 1988 This is a PR photo. WENN does not claim any Copyright or License in the attached material. Fees charged by WENN are for WENN's services only, and do not, nor are they intended to, convey to the user any ownership of Copyright or License in the material. By publishing this material, the user expressly agrees to indemnify and to hold WENN harmless from any claims, demands, or causes of action arising out of or connected in any way with user's publication of the material. Supplied by Featuring: Winona Ryder (as Lydia Deetz) Where: United States When: 01 Jan 1988 Credit: WENN

Winona Ryder (as Lydia Deetz)

Her Hollywood star rose brightly when her next teen role became a landmark cult film and teen hit, Heathers. The roles and the awards came quickly with the 1990 Mermaids earning her an academy award nomination. Later the same year she appeared in Edward Scissorhands and in 1992 Winona starred in Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

In 1993 she won a Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress and an Academy Award nomination in the same category for The Age of Innocence. The next year, 1994, Winona was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for Little Women.

Then the Hollywood tabloids started having fun with her volatile relationship with Johnny Depp (seems like he has lots of relationship troubles, have you noticed?).

Winona continued to grow as an actress in the ‘90s with some juicy roles each year. Reality Bites became a Generation X hit in 1994, Alien: Resurrection in 1997, A Woody Allen movie, Celebrity, in 1998 and Girl Interrupted in 1999.

In 2000 Winona Ryder, age 29, received her star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for a brilliant legacy in films that was just getting started.

One year later she appeared in a film she did not audition for. Saks Fifth Avenue, Beverly Hills, caught Winona Ryder on tape shoplifting thousands of dollars in merchandise. She had enough money in the bank to buy all the merchandise in the store, but she was on a downward spiral of depression and mental anguish. In a public trial she was found guilty. Today she says that incident saved her life and forced her into treatment and sanity again.

However, Hollywood thought she was “hands-off” and roles disappeared. She was absent from the screen most of the last decade. She popped up in a Star Trek movie in 2006 and then she showed her talent didn’t leave her in 2010 when both her lead roles got her nominated for two Screen Actor Guild Awards for Best Actress. The first was When Love is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story, and The Black Swan.

And here she is back again currently starring in the Netflix series, “Stranger Things.”
I swore I wouldn’t binge watch another series, but thanks Winona, because of you I just did. It’s a fun, not too scary series that brilliantly pays tribute to every classic movie of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Amy and I had fun yelling out the names of movies that certain scenes captured.  We came up with: Aliens, ET, Stand By Me, The Goonies, Close Encounters, and a lot of Steven King.

Winona 2

Oh yeah, almost forgot to mention, I think Winona’s name is going to be mentioned when award season rolls around again. It will be EMMY time.

She’s back!

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One of these Days, Alice. Pow! $20million bucks!

Most of the time Ralph Kramden would start his little speech with, “You’re going to the moon, Alice, you’re going to the moon. One of these day, Alice. Pow! Right in the kisser.” And then, staring at our little black and white sets, we would burst out laughing.
Every time.

Next year, if Ralph can get Alice on the moon and she can move 500 meters, Ralph can collect twenty million bucks. He’ll have competition. There are 16 companies fighting for that prize.

With permission from Uncle Sam, Google is offering the “Google Lunar-X Prize.”
The first privately-funded company to land on the surface of the moon, deploy a robotic lunar vehicle and have it move a minimum of 1640 feet will receive the $20 million. Second team to do this wins $5 million.
This has to be accomplished before the end of 2017.
There is also another $5 million to be given for other milestones.

So far only one team has the United States permission to shoot for the moon.

A California company, Moon Express, now has the go-ahead. In April of this year they submitted the agreed-upon application to the Federal Aviation Administration. Then the document had to channel its way through the U.S. State Department, U.S. Department of Defense, Federal Communications Commission, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and of course NASA. It took five months to go through this process, but ten days ago Moon Express was the first team to make the cut.

This was a positive process, all agencies were in favor, but each had to ask questions never before asked. The start of private companies making trips back and forth to the moon will be a common thing in a few years. The directive they have worked out will be an important regulatory guide to deep-space commercial business.

Moon Express has released this cool photo of their planned lunar vehicle.
Moon Express


The future space commercial business can be profitable, bringing back precious metals, resources and rocks for my geologist son-in-law to tell me everything about them.

Some of the other companies that are in the running released pics of their planned lunar vehicles.

Here is the planned Moon rover for Astrobotic Team
Astrobotic Team

This is the vehicle from Moon Team Indus.

Moon Team IndusI had one of those when I was a kid. My Dad helped me build it.
We would have one kid pushing, one kid steering down the alley hill and one kid standing in the middle of Underwood Street to see if any cars were coming.

Have a great weekend!

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Some Assembly Required

Twenty six years ago, March 1990, I was driving into beautiful downtown Burbank, California. It was a typical perfect seventy five degree winter day that my mid-western friends don’t want to hear about. As I took the freeway off ramp I noticed cars backed up on every surface street, police waving traffic to side streets and I thought, oh, damn, another big earthquake.

I maneuvered my way around the traffic mess and got to my early morning sales call. No earthquake, just a giant store opening with thousands of people standing for hours just to get inside. No, it wasn’t a Trump rally. It was the grand opening of a store I never heard of in 1990.

When I drove away on S. San Fernando Boulevard this is the store in Burbank with the strange name that still attracts thousands of people a day through their front doors.

Ikea Burbank

I made a point to check out the giant Swedish home furnishings store my next time in Burbank. I thought it was both weird and wonderful. Cool looking, cheap looking, nice looking, all fit the various furniture items.
I walked through their arrowed-maze wondering if I would ever see my family again. I’m not good at mazes. Here’s the typical store layout:
Ikea maze


It didn’t take me long to also figure out these folks were geniuses. Everything they made was packaged in flat, fit in the car, cardboard boxes. Of course Some Assembly Required. That’s a turn-off to my skill sets. I can’t pound a nail in straight or saw a board on a line. However IKEA is a promoter of Allen-wrench assembly. Okay. Not bad.

Since it takes about as long as a Safari to see everything, they have a Swedish restaurant to enjoy Swedish meatballs, Swedish waffles, Smoked Swedish Salmon and lots of other goodies. In the summertime for every adult meal purchased one can get two free children’s meals. Yes they have a Kale salad for you people who just won’t stop it.

Over the years I have watched this most profitable company slowly expand around the globe. Ten years ago they built a 2 million square foot distribution center on 80 acres of land just south of Bakersfield. Being my new neighbor I started reading more about their philosophy, manufacturing facilities, and new retail outlets. There are now five IKEA stores in Southern California and Burbank is still the closest to Bakersfield.

Unlike Wal-Mart or Target they sell only their own brands. Their main thought process is volume. They sell one BILLY bookcase every ten seconds.

IKEA billy bookcase

When they expand they send study groups into people’s homes, do detailed demographic lifestyle studies and take their time. Unlike Target, who thinks they can plant their bullseye anywhere and make money, IKEA takes months and sometimes years to be the right fit for each market. Target had to pull all of their stores out of Canada because they didn’t understand Canada.

Last year IKEA opened their first store in South Korea. It was SIX years in the planning stage. Six years! The store is 624,000 square feet or 3X the size of a Wal-Mart Supercenter. They designed special kitchens to accommodate kimchi refrigerators used in typical Korean homes. IKEA did their homework and stocked metal chopsticks which are preferred in Korea. Every item, some 10,000, was made to fit the Korean marketplace.

Eight of its ten biggest stores are in China so they have figured that marketplace out correctly.

A few years back the management team noticed a large volume of their vases were being sold in America and they couldn’t figure it out. When they checked they found that Americans were buying vases. Why would one American shoppe buy six or eight vases at a time?  We thought they were water glasses. Unlike most countries we like ice in our water glasses and their vases were perfect. We never bought their regular European water glasses.

About the time in 1990  I was wondering around the Burbank IKEA the management team in Sweden was thinking they should pull out of America. If they didn’t even know our water drinking preference what did they know? Instead of pulling back they decided to institute an acute study-team for every market. That’s why it took six years before they opened their Korean store. Now they are ready to invest $2 billion dollars in India over the next ten years opening ten stores.

I mentioned earlier I’m not an “Assembly Required” kind of guy. With IKEA assembly really is just an Allen wrench. Their management team has an internal name for every item that takes too long to assemble. It’s called a “Husband Killer.” That’s a company I love.

8605966 - man hitting his thumb with a hammer


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Looking Back and Ahead

I’m not sure what it is with old farts. We seem to always talk about the past.
Back in the day. Blah blah, blah.
And I’m at it again.

Sometimes I’ll look at the “This Date in History” website. Most days, ehhhh.

But today, as I read entry after entry, I saw history being changed for all who came after this date in history. Let me explain.

On August 12, 1851, Isaac Singer was issued a patent on the double-headed sewing machine.  Think about that. How that changed our clothing options, our creative options and job options. And yes, it did add another chauvinistic line item on the jobs the little missus has at home. Mr. Singer formed a company in New York City and began selling sewing machines for $100 each. Within four years he had expanded to Scotland and became America’s first International Company. Now there’s a trivia answer not many people would know. From that date forward all our lives were changed.
Here is a fancy model like my Mom owned in 1939
1939 Singer

But, just five years later, August 12, 1856, another YUGE patent was granted to Anthony Fass. I’m sometimes reluctant to admit how much it changed my life. I’ll only let you guess. His patent was for a machine called the accordion.
1-Pat and Dan

On August 12, 1877, Thomas Edison invented the phonograph and made the first sound recording. That also changed my life, and yours. We finally were able to listen and record anything from words to music. Incredible.

1908, August 12 showed us the very first Model T rolling off of Henry Ford’s assembly line. He did what he promised, provide an automobile that his own workers could afford to buy. History will show this as a profound step in putting America on wheels and supercharging the economy. What history may not talk about is the fact that the Model T was a piece of crap. With its blacksmithed body panels and crude instrument panels the Model T was the Yugo of its time.
Model T

An Olympic appropriate story. On August 12, 1928 the Women’s 800 meter was finishing up in Amsterdam. 800 meters is a tad less than ½ mile. Several women collapsed. The Olympic committee (who were never the world’s smartest folks) immediately banned women’s running events over 200 meters (1/8 mile). Seriously. That ban stayed in effect for 32 years. Yes, it was 1960 before poor frail women were allowed to race more then 1/8 of a mile.

On this date, August 12, 1981 serious life changes took place for each of us. We got an announcement from IBM that the first PC (PC5150) was for sale. The operating system, PC-Dos 1.0, came with a whopping 16K of memory. The price was $1565.
How much memory is 16K?
THIS PICTURE IS 80K (I use it because Facebook will probably put it on top and who can resist looking at a baby picture?)
Baby pic

Another reason I should have gone to Brazil for the Olympics.
On this date, August 12, 2005, police detained four men in connection with one of the worlds’ biggest heists. Brazil’s Central Bank was robbed of $70 million. They recovered two million from the four. In 2008 they got the ring leader and another 8 million. Still $60 million somewhere hidden in Brazil and I’m sitting at home. I could have used the Olympics as an excuse to go hunting for gold.

I mentioned in my title about looking forward. Yes, today will go down in history and my grand kids will probably be talking about it when they are my age.

TODAY, AUGUST 12, 2016, will go down in history. The announcement today by the Clyde Beatty-Cole Brothers Circus is legendary. They have hired Mike Pence to appear in all their parades walking behind the elephants shoveling their shit.
His effective employment date is November 9th. They said he seems prepared based on his current resume. Unfortunately, Ringling Brothers, the first place Mr. Pence applied, turned him down because their LGBTQ polices are in direct conflict with Mr. Pence’s anti-gay views.
Mr. Pence has agreed to wear a clown suit.
Mike Pence

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Quit While You’re Behind

On this date in history, August 8, 1974. Richard M. Nixon (I am not a crook!) became the first and only President to resign from office.  Just 10 months earlier his corrupt, tax evading, bribe taking Vice President, Spiro Agnew, had resigned in disgrace also.

On this date in history, August 8, 1863, General Robert E. Lee offered his resignation after a resounding defeat at Gettysburg. Davis refused to accept it.

Quitting when you’re ahead usually doesn’t happen. We see athletes’ abilities quit on them before they finally retire. In their defense, who wants to give up 25 million a year just because their knees, shoulders and skills have already quit?

The Catholic Church is famous for quitting when you’re behind. Many priests have quit, mostly by force. Cardinal Law resigned his position in Boston after he covered up an incredible amount of sexual abuse by his priests. One priest alone raped or abused over 130 children and the Cardinal masterminded the cover-up and helped in shifting this criminal priest from parish to parish. And this wonderful Cardinal made secret settlements of abuse claims for more than 70 of his parish priests. Of course resigning didn’t hurt his employment opportunities because good old Pope John Paul II appointed Cardinal Law to a high position in Rome.

Speaking of Rome, Pope Benedict resigned in 2013 because he said he was tired. What? You’re supposed to die while Pope, that’s the history of the job. But, he still gets to be called Pope, wear the white Popie colors and he moved into a beautiful monastery that he had renovated. Cushy. And he didn’t have to deal with his money-laundering mob money bank nor his complacency in covering up thousands of priest abuse cases. He quit while he was behind. Just like Nixon. Just like Agnew. Smart? Maybe.

Pope Benedict XVI reacts as he loses his skullcap, blown off by a gust of wind, during the weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2009. (AP Photo/Pier Paolo Cito)


At one time I was a boxing fan. No more. Back in the day, so to speak, Sugar Ray Leonard was one of the all-time great welterweights. His greatest rival was another excellent slugger named Roberto Duran. Duran insulted Leonard on numerous interviews right up to their first fight. The insults worked on Leonard’s mind and he didn’t fight his usual style of fancy footwork and excellent boxing. He stood toe to toe with Roberto thinking he would out punch him. He didn’t. Duran won and became champion. This was in June of 1980. A rematch was guaranteed. It was scheduled for six months later. They met in November of 1980 at a sold-out Superdome in New Orleans. Sugar Ray used his brain this time and danced and boxed. He hit Duran at will for eight rounds. At the end of the eighth round Roberto Duran turned to the referee and said, “NO MAS.”  He quit while he was behind.
No Mas

I can’t let this date in history go by without saying something about the Cubs. This is a famous date for the Cubbies. Just 53 years after everyone else had been playing night time baseball the Chicago Cubs invested some money in lights and played their very first ever game at Wrigley field with lights turned on. This was in 1988. Everything was in place. Morgana, the kissing bandit, was even there. If you don’t know about her, you are young.

Oh yeah, the Cubs won.

Go Cubs!

Don’t Quit! You’re ahead!

This is your year.


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The Most Interesting Man in the World

No, not that guy selling beer. That guy was a made up role.

This guy was the real thing. In my book this guy is the most interesting man in the world.
He just died.
Chief David Bald Eagle2

He was Chief David Bald Eagle. You may have seen a blurb about his death because he was in a few movies.

Being in movies wasn’t enough reason to make Bald Eagle interesting. His entire life was an incredible adventure I can only fantasize about.

He was born into the South Dakota Lakota tribe in 1919. Their tribal history was recorded in pictorial calendars painted on hides that date back to the ninth century CE. That’s about eight hundred years before the USA was even an idea. But Bald Eagle was five years old before our country recognized him as a US citizen. We didn’t like them pesky redskins living on our land after all.

Chief Bald Eagle lived with his grandfather, White Feather. His other grandfather was Chief White Bull, a relative of Sitting Bull, and one of the leaders in the Battle of Little Big Horn. How about those stories on grandfather’s knee?

Bald Eagle only spoke Lakota until he was twelve years old and allowed to attend school. That’s when he started to excel at sports. He loved baseball and was excellent at pole vaulting. He found he was a natural at rodeo competition. Being an excellent horseman he enrolled in the horse cavalry. When it became mechanized he became a messenger on a motorcycle.

On December 7, 1941 he signed his discharge papers from the military. The news of that day’s Pearl Harbor attack came to Bald Eagle later in the day and he immediately re-enlisted. This time he joined the 82nd Airborne as a Paratrooper. His first combat jump was during the invasion of Anzio, Italy. Then he took part in the Normandy invasion and he was accidently dropped over German lines. His entire outfit were like clay pigeons floating down from the sky. Almost all of his outfit was killed and Bald Eagle was shot over and over again. When the medics found him they left him for dead. Luckily some British commandos came storming through and one of the soldiers checked David Bald Eagle and found a pulse.

He recuperated in England and learned to play the drums. He got good enough to join the big band of Cliff Keys. He also fell in love with a British dance instructor and after the war they were married. She taught the chief how to dance and they were great. They became Champion Ball Room Dancers in competitions all over the USA. When Penny, his wife, was pregnant with their first child she was killed in an auto accident. Chief Bald Eagle was devastated and went into a prolonged depression.

He became suicidal and constantly asked, “Why her and not me?”

So he started driving race cars…fast. He was a great driver. Then he took up skydiving. Then back to the rodeo only this time he became a champion bull rider. He states he was chasing death.

His next claim to fame was being a stunt double in the movies and he was in demand. Being an expert horseman he was used in dozens of westerns. If you remember all those Indians falling off their horses after being shot, he was probably most of them…over and over again. While on one movie set he showed Marilyn Monroe his dance skills and she insisted on going dancing with him. Now life is getting more interesting.

He also became a skilled Lakota tribe dancer. And before he got too old he played semi-pro baseball in Minnesota as a catcher.

He had the opportunity to stunt ride at the World’s Fair in Brussels in 1958. A bad spill severely injured him and put him in the hospital. While he was in the hospital a fellow named Casey Tibbs told the staff he wanted to meet an American Indian. Tibbs was one of the greatest all-time rodeo riders.
Casey Tibbs

An instant friendship was formed. Tibbs had a Wild West show and he was recruiting stunt riders. Tibbs invited Bald Eagle to come to is home in Belgium to recuperate. That is where he met the second love of his life, Josee. They fell in love.

It was time for David Bald Eagle to leave Belgium and join the Tibbs Wild West Show in America and he told Josee good bye. He told her he lived in a cave in  South Dakota and when she was ready to come join him in his cave. He was sort of joking. He didn’t have a cave. BUT…Josee could think of nothing else for the next decade. She came to South Dakota and married him in 1972. They had a son one year later.

Tensions were bad on and off the reservation. The son was bullied on the reservation for being part Belgian and discriminated against off the reservation for being part Indian. Chief Bald Eagle moved his family to a far corner of the reservation and built a house from telephone poles and wood from the forest. They had no running water for ten years.

The family grew with many children, two sons served in the 82nd Airborne like their Dad, and at times their children and adopted kids grew to more than 25 people living on the ranch. They grew their own food and set up teepees for the extended family. Bald Eagle became Chief of the local Lakota tribe and then became Chief of the United Native Nations. He advocated for indigenous people and worked to preserve Lakota stories.

And the movies kept calling. He appeared in Dances with Wolves, along with two sons, in 1992. He rode his last bucking horse at age 72.  His face was on every tourism ad for the Lakota Tribe of South Dakota.
Chief David Bald Eagle

At age 95 he had his first starring role in “Neither Wolf nor Man.” It was just released this year.

Neither Wolf nor Dog
He hosted family gatherings at his home on the reservation. The last one he hosted two years ago drew 5,000 people. They had two bands playing. He died at age 97 last week.

If this guy wasn’t one of the most interesting men in the world, he was high on the list.

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