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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Shifting of Power

Moved to Californy

On my first effort at joining the corporate world, I entered quite by circumstance through a management training program at a very large corporation.  At the time this corporation ranked third within its industry.

I had moved my family to a different State for a job opportunity that was secured and guaranteed.  Upon arrival and within a couple of weeks of finalizing the plan to accept the job, I arrived to my new State to find that the person who extended the offer had been replaced.  The opening for my position had also been filled.

Within minutes of receiving that life shattering news, I found myself walking into the unemployment office looking for work.  With all my experience (I was raised on the farm and had heavy equipment operator training), there were only two opportunities for me to consider.  At face value both opportunities had equal monetary value.  The choice had to consider the long term benefits and opportunities.  While the financial situation appeared dim, I did have some savings that would carry the family for a couple of months.  We had arrived at my grandmother’s house so shelter and even food if necessary was not going to be a major expense. 

While living with my grandmother, I made sure to earn my way, by doing chores around her property.  One of my uncles had joined the Marines, so my grandmother gave me his car a real nice Mercury in showroom condition.  Now I had two cars, but I didn’t want to sell either one, however, I could as a last resort.  Don’t want to sound ungrateful, but the one negative if there was one, was that I had to transport my grandmother to her church activities with a car full of her friends (church ladies).  The annoyance was mostly due to my youth and intolerance:  the ladies and my grandmother thought I was very good looking, a wonderful young man, and a blessing to my grandmother.  In retrospect, I could use some of that attention right about now.  It’s been a while since any group of ladies told me how wonderful I am.

Back to the unemployment office:  The job choices were; 1) field labor (the bus picked up workers at the nearby corner every morning at 5 am, and they paid cash daily ($1.58 per hour), 2) management training for 8 months also paid $1.58 per hour (anything over an 8 hour day was paid at time and a half).  At the end of 8 months you either got promoted or were let go.  The nice person that gave me the referral, called the people at the management training position and set up an appointment for me the very next day at 4 pm.

I now had slightly more than 24 hours to research the position to prepare for the interview and get a slight advantage over the competition (I was told that 7 applicants had been referred including me).  The industry was a linen supply, and I had not heard of it before.  In a short period of time (less than a day) I had to become knowledgeable if not an expert.

A second post will be required to complete this thought.  Please standby for Shifting Power 2 coming soon to your electronic device.  The best is yet to come…..

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

American Bandstand to Radio 2

American Bandstand to Radio 2

Imagine having your favorite television series like you do today except that it would only be on radio.  Imagine American Idol, Scandal, Dancing with the Stars, The Blacklist, and CSI, only on radio and without the visuals.

Here are some of the popular radio play presentations on radio during the infancy years of television: 

·       Dragnet (1949 - 1957): Dragnet enjoyed an unprecedented popularity among ordinary citizens and law enforcement personnel alike. The show was lauded for its positive portrayal of police officers, so much so that upon the death of Jack Webb, Sergeant Joe Friday’s badge number 714 was retired. 

·       Minus One (1955-1958) Initially a revival of NBC’s short-lived Dimension X (1950-1951), X Minus One is a sci-fi lover’s dream and is ranked among the finest science fiction dramas ever produced for radio.

·       Tales of the Texas Rangers (1950 - 1952) Tales of the Texas Rangers aired from July 8, 1950 to September 14, 1952. As were most of the Westerns made in the 1940s and 1950s, Tales of the Texas Rangers was idealistically patriotic, focusing on upholding American laws and values. However, unlike most Westerns of the day, the show had a contemporary setting, and based its realism in the procedures of the modern Texas Rangers.

·       The 1940s had many more popular programs: the Shadow, and a handful of variety shows.

American Bandstand for those of us growing up in the time of our youth was the equivalent to MTV. I can actually say that sometimes after a while of listening to a hit song in the 60’s, I was surprised when I finally got to see the singer or group on Bandstand.


·       It premiered locally in late September 1952 as Bandstand on Philadelphia television station WFIL-TV Channel 6 (now WPVI-TV), as a replacement for a weekday movie that had shown predominantly British movies. Hosted by Bob Horn as a television adjunct to his radio show of the same name on WFIL radio, Bandstand mainly featured short musical films produced by Snader Telescriptions and Official Films, with occasional studio guests. This incarnation was an early predecessor of sorts of the music video shows that became popular in the 1980s, featuring films that are themselves the ancestors of music videos.
·       Horn, however, was disenchanted with the program, so he wanted to have the show changed to a dance program, with teenagers dancing along on camera as the records played, based on an idea that came from a radio show on WPEN, The 950 Club, hosted by Joe Grady and Ed Hurst. This more-familiar version of Bandstand debuted on October 7, 1952 in "Studio 'B'," which was located in their just-completed addition to the original 1947 building in West Philadelphia (4548 Market Street), and was hosted by Horn, with Lee Stewart as co-host until 1955. Stewart was the owner of a TV/Radio business in Philadelphia and even though he was an older gentleman, his advertising account was a large one for WFIL-TV at the time and was put on the program to appease the account. As WFIL grew financially and the account became less important, Stewart wasn't needed and was eventually dropped from the program. Tony Mammarella was the original producer with Ed Yates as director. The short Snader and Official music films continued in the short term, mainly to fill gaps as they changed dancers during the show—a necessity, as the studio could not fit more than 200 teenagers.
  • On July 9, 1956, Horn was fired after a drunk-driving arrest, as WFIL and dual owner Walter Annenberg's The Philadelphia Inquirer at the time were doing a series on drunken driving. He was also involved in a prostitution ring and brought up on morals charges. Horn was temporarily replaced by producer Tony Mammarella before the job went to Dick Clark permanently. ~ From Wikipedia
In late spring of 1957, the ABC television network asked their affiliates for programming suggestions to fill their 3:30 p.m. (ET) time slot (WFIL had been pre-empting the ABC programming with Bandstand). Clark decided to pitch the show to ABC president Thomas W. Moore, and after some badgering the show was picked up nationally, becoming American Bandstand on August 5, 1957.  The rest is very successful history.  The best is yet to come…..

Friday, March 21, 2014

The Boom of the 1950s

Baby Boom of the 1950s
The 1950s was a time when our men and women in uniform had just returned triumphantly from World War II.  We had every reason to believe and were justified in the feeling and attitude that we were staring a wonderful future full of promise.  We were staring at a time of peace and prosperity without foreseeable end in sight.
What Seat Belts
Never had so many great things come together to make our future so bright.  It seems that from this point on, almost everything 50s was labeled “BOOM.”

·       The Postwar Booms: Historians use the word “boom” to describe a lot of things about the 1950s: the booming economy, the booming suburbs and most of all the so-called “baby boom.”

·       This boom began in 1946, when a record number of babies–3.4 million–were born in the United States. About 4 million babies were born each year during the 1950s. In all, by the time the boom finally tapered off in 1964, there were almost 77 million “baby boomers.” ~HISTORY.COM

During the 1950s the United States was the world’s strongest military power, it’s economy was the best in the world and booming, and the benefits of the prosperity were, new cars, new houses, and a never ending amount of consumer goods were available to people more than ever before.
Shopping Boom
Many developers correctly read the opportunity to buy property available on the outskirts of town and started mass producing modest inexpensive tract houses.  The end of the war brought about the G.I. Bill to subsidize low-cost mortgages for our returning heroes from the war.  The low cost mortgages were often cheaper than the rent on an apartment in the city.

·       The Cold War: The tension between the United States and the Soviet Union, known as the Cold War, was another defining element of the 1950s. After World War II, Western leaders began to worry that the USSR had what one American diplomat called “expansive tendencies”; moreover, they believed that the spread of communism anywhere threatened democracy and capitalism everywhere. As a result, communism needed to be “contained”–by diplomacy, by threats or by force. This idea shaped American foreign policy for decades. ~HISTORY.Com

Talk about history repeating itself.  We are now (2014) in some sort of stand-off with the Russians in a new case of Cold War.

 All the history of the 1950s is much more involved than the above information, but now you know the condensed version of it.  The best is yet to come….

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Big Brother 30 Years Late

Big Brother 30 Years Late
Do you remember how scary the book and movie 1984 were.  I for one refused to believe that our society, government, and lives would ever reach that level of control.  After all those were the kinds of things that happened somewhere else in the world like Germany, and Russia but not in my country, the good old US of A.
Then 1984 came and went, we are all waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it didn’t drop.  Whew!  That was close; something predicted with so much authority, didn’t happen.  Must have been like the movie War of the Worlds, just good fiction.  Here we are now thirty years later, and guess what the story teller was off by a few years.
I hope you have been paying attention to what the NSA has been up to so I won’t have write a ten post series to explain all the intricacies of spying on other world government leader by the US Government.  How about the fact that your privacy is no longer private.  All cell phone calls are now listened too.  Our emails are scrutinized, even our automobile license plates can and are being tracked with the capability to determine where in the country you are at all times.
Do you know that most city’s law enforcement agencies have the capability to drive around with a unit inside the patrol car that scans license plates on the streets, and roads to determine the ownership of the vehicle, and whether you have any outstanding warrants, or owe parking citations?
Whatever happened to the government of the people by the people, for the people?  We are being handed a bill of goods, and not only do we not have a choice, we can’t even supervise the public servants that are controlling our lives.  When did we become so slack that all of a sudden the patients are running the institution?  As I have always said, the bill of goods is always sold as being for our own good, or protection.  If we are being protected to the point of being controlled, is it worth it?  Here is another point to show you that we haven’t seen the worst of it.  Remember it’s always sold as for the purpose of serving us better:
·       Jason McInerney and his wife, Melissa, recently tapped their lunch orders onto a touchscreen at the entrance to the Be Our Guest restaurant at Florida's Walt Disney World Resort and were told to take any open seat. Moments later a food server appeared at their table with their croque-monsieur and carved turkey sandwiches.
·       Asks McInerney, a once-a-year visitor to Disney theme parks: "How did they know where we were sitting?"
·       The answer was on the electronic bands the couple wore on their wrists. That's the magic of the MyMagic+, Walt Disney's (DIS -0.50%) $1 billion experiment in crowd control, data collection, and wearable technology that could change the way people play -- and spend -- at the "Most Magical Place on Earth." ~ By Christopher Palmeri, Bloomberg BusinessWeek
Remember always, all this extra effort is so they can anticipate your every need!  Never mind that they can’t keep NSA away from the data, and they will now know even more about us, and how we spend your recreational time.  Oh! I almost forgot when they get hacked by some low life living in his mother’s basement in Slobovia, they will access all your information.  I sure do hope; the best is yet to come….

Wake Up Time

Before It's Too Late
Are we becoming passive in our older years?  I am referring to what’s going on in the world around us, and the fact that the majority of the population is just watching it go by.  Have you noticed that every time the government regulates or deregulates an industry (example: telephone service Ma Bell) we are sold on it as being better for us or saving us money.  Yet without exception the cost associated with that industry goes sky high in price.
I know that there has been a lot of progress made in all the industries in our country and the world for that matter.  My question however, begs an answer, do we all need to pay for the same level of service?  Many senior citizens don’t need 400 or 600 channels on cable.  I consider myself “with it,” and I have maybe 7 favorite channels that I always go to.  It would be nice if we could pay for only the channels we want to watch (a la carte).  The cable providers prefer to sell you bundles that include channels that no one would buy otherwise.
Back in the early 90s my cable bill was $7.95 per month I had more channels than I could view.  Today my cable bill is more than 30 times higher, but it does include internet, and landline (phone service) which I can do without, and a couple of DVRs.  In the old days we used to buy our own VCR.  Here is another irritating fact.  You can go to the Red Box video rental and rent a movie (DVD) for 24 hours for just $1.29.  But if you go to your cable provider and rent pay per view movie (streaming) no DVD involved, you pay between $5.99 and $9.99 what is wrong with this picture?  Of course as usual we can control the market by making our own informed decisions, and opt out.
It would be nice if we could come together to influence the market.  I once again opt out of things that are not a necessity in my life.  As an example because of changes in the airline industry, I travel a very small percentage of what I used to travel prior to 2001, and beside the challenges of security screening here is why:
·       Airline passengers now arrive at the airport prepared to be nickeled and dimed all the way to their destination by add-on fees — a moneymaking tool no longer used only by low-cost carriers but by nearly every type of airline, a new study reveals.
·       Total airline revenue generated by these extra fees, called ancillary fees, skyrocketed from $2.45 billion in 2007 to $27.1 billion in 2012. United Airlines topped the list of total ancillary-revenue leaders, generating more than $5.3 billion in fees last year. ~ By Kristen Leigh Painter-The Denver Post
I remember a time when the consumers would unite and boycott a business or product, and reverse a decision or action that was made against the consumer.  Today we lack resolve and cohesiveness, at a time when communications are so much improved, and yet it is being used against us.  This statement applies to: government, politics, social media, consumerism, education, etc., etc.  We are losing ground at all levels and on all fronts.  I believe it’s time to take our society and lives back, before we reach the point of no return.  The best is yet to come…….

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Road Most Traveled

Weekend Get Away
In the first couple of years of our marriage, my wife and I enjoyed going to Reno Nevada a couple of times a year.  It wasn’t for the gambling because we have never been into the game of chance, but more for the live entertainment and some nickel and penny slots.  We enjoyed the road trip and we always spent one night halfway through the trip to relax and simply chill.  Chill is not a word I normally use but it describes perfectly the reason for the pit stop.
We had so much time together to talk and listen to our favorite music along the way.  As an example of our memories in 1978 during one of our fun trips to Reno we started listening to a very new and fun song “Copacabana.”  It was festive and not the kind of song that you would grow tired of from repetition.  We decided to scan other radio stations and found that almost every station on the air was playing the song over and over by request.  Unlike much later popular songs like Macarena which you can grow tired of fairly quick, Copacabana was not in that category.
Most usually our trips were planned for spring and fall to avoid the cold and snow as well as the summer heat.  Our typical trip from the Pacific Northwest was to travel south to Sacramento on I-5 and then east to Reno on Interstate 80.  I realize it was a little longer way around but the area and freeway was a treat to experience.  We always made it a habit to stay at a Holiday Inn in Sacramento.  We were young enough that the long drive didn’t take a toll on our lean and mean bodies (no joke we were in great shape).  Today we prefer to fly everywhere we travel, and rent a car once at our destination.
Well the title of “The Road Most Traveled,” is about the one time late in the fall that we decided to be adventurous.  As we were driving South on I-5 in Northern California we saw small sign that read Reno x number of miles this way.  My thought was that the weather was a perfect fall day about 80 degrees, the highway if you could call it that was a two lane road, and it seems that it would save us at least a half day by taking the shortcut.  Once again, my thought process was that by saving a half day of travel we could drive direct and skip the hotel stay in Sacramento.
We are very fortunate that our experience was as minimal as it turned out to be.  I was almost immediately surprised so see how quickly the road started climbing ever higher in mountainous altitude.  Next thing you know the skies darkened and temperature began to drop.  Within a couple of hours the temperature dropped to the 30s, and then it began to snow.  I had a gut feeling that if we just kept pushing forward we would leave the cold weather and snow behind us.  Before too long I could no longer see the roadway except for the plastic or fiberglass markers on the shoulders of the road that indicated where the roadway was.  We had not passed a car in either direction for over two hours and I began to worry.
Before long I noticed steam coming out from under the hood, so I stopped on my tracks, since there was no traffic, and I was afraid to pull off the road.  As I tried to check under the hood, I discovered that I couldn’t even open my door because of about two and a half feet of snow.  I backed up the car so I could have some space in front of the car.  The problem turned out to be simple, without knowing it I was using my car like a snow plow because the snow was up to my headlights.  The snow compacted into the engine compartment keeping my cooling fan from working.  I used a tire iron to remove the ice around the fan, and let the engine cool for about an hour, before restarting the engine for badly needed heat.  For safety I kept clearing my taillights, exhaust area and headlights so we could be seen. 
Within about two hours a County snowplow came along and he stopped to see if our car was in working order, and he instructed me to follow close behind him.  The bottom line is that we survived, unscathed mostly because of our innocence and faith that all would work out, we didn’t panic, and enjoyed our mini vacation.  I hate to think of how many things could have gone wrong.  Lesson learned, and from that experience forward we’ve always stayed on “The Road Most Traveled.”  The best is yet to come…..

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Right Place Wrong Time

Digital Technology
Speaking in Poker Terms, at some point in time we have to get comfortable with the hand that we have been dealt.  In this instance I am referring to the many advances in digital technology that keeps progressing by leaps and bounds especially in the area of audio and video.  I still remember the time when we had no choice but to listen to the car radio at whatever reception we could get and be happy with it.
Can you imagine life without recorded music? Probably not.  By the time I got to where I had a real interest in music and the recorded medium, the 45 rpm vinyl records were in.  I still got to play the 33 1/3 rpm, and 78 rpm vinyl records, but not with my father’s permission.  I used to own and operate 3 music stores in Washington State in the early to mid-70’s, a very inconvenient time for music store owners.
Some very popular music would hit the charts, and I would have to maintain inventory in 45 rpm, and long play vinyl, 8 track, and cassette.  All product would eventually sell but it seems that customers were always asking for the one medium that had just sold out. I swear I had the supplier on speed dial, I was constantly placing special orders.
The arrival of the 8-track and Cassettes were a special joy, because now you could take your music along for a road trip.  No more being stuck with radio stations that you kept losing the frequency to.  You could take them to the beach, and you didn’t have to be overly careful with it, and that is why you didn’t always carry them in organizers.
The arrival of the CD was supposed to be the “Perfect Sound Forever,” wrong on two counts: early CDs sounded horrible (though noise free, an audio first); and if you didn't handle them reasonably well, they would (and still do) degrade. Many first generation CDs degraded all by themselves. They were more than difficult to play in any moving environment: portables and car players were for a long time expensive and less than successful, unlike the 8-tracks and cassettes they were replacing. The price of the CD’s when they first came out were cost prohibitive, and not all artists were releasing music on the CD at first.  An interesting note: there are no continued releases of recordings for 8-tracks or cassettes, but the LP has never gone out of production, with many new releases for the increasingly small audiophile market and lunatic fringe.
Between 1990's and today CDs reached their maximum saturation and became the easy to use medium they are known as today, they began to look clunky compared to the MP3 players.  Further progress has now brought the “Cloud” into play where I can access my music collection from anywhere with the use of a Smart Phone, computer or the magic of Blue Tooth technology.
So once again we need to accept the hand that we have been dealt, and enjoy the technology that we have all around us while we are here.  With the advent of “Google Glass,” and wrist watch computers, sooner or later we are going to miss out on the future of digital technology.  I must say that I am glad I won’t be here for the Blue Tooth Technology being imbedded into our heads and using the eardrum for a speaker (for internal use of course).  The best is yet to come….

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Changing Life Rules

Future Island Paradise
I was recently talking to a friend about how I no longer bend down to pick up a penny on the sidewalk, because it takes so many of them to buy anything worthwhile.  Back when I was a very young man (during the mid to late 50’s) I remember buying penny candy and five cent soda.  Today in my State of residence it takes almost ten of them just to pay the sales tax on a dollar’s purchase.  A 20 ounce soda sells for $1.89 plus sales tax of about seventeen cents.  I can say to the government like they use to say on the Virginia Slims cigarette commercials, “you’ve come a long way baby!”  Back when soda was five cents they didn’t even have Sales Tax, and with today’s Sales Tax I could buy 3 sodas at old time prices and two pieces of penny Bubble Gum.
I keep a special decorative jar in the master bedroom where I empty all my change (coins) at the end of a day.  They are a hassle to carry around, plus they wear your packets prematurely, and no, I am not going to carry around a coin purse.  That’s what my grandfather use to carry, but there again coins were worth something back then.
Up until about 5 years ago, I used to tell cashiers to keep the change when we were talking about a dime or less in change. Then I realized that if I was short a dime or less at point of sale I would be made to return the item for lack of money.  The coins I save find their way into parking meters or the like.
Another rule change in my life: I feel that I’ve reached a point in my life where the odds of me winning the Lotto have improved.  All you have to do is look at the Lotto history of winners.  Nine out of ten winners are around my age and retired.  I do, however, only play the very big jackpots.  I wouldn’t want to win a million dollars and know that I will never win another jackpot because the odds of that happening are not favorable.  I know that one of these days I will post that I have won the lottery and will be retiring from the blog because the island I am buying doesn’t have internet service.
Here is some more information to back me up on my rule on the use of coins:
·       WASHINGTON (Reuters) - In a budget proposal that aims to make government more efficient, President Barack Obama on Tuesday floated the idea of using alternative metals to make penny and nickel coins.
·       The fiscal 2015 budget, released on Tuesday, points out that the coins' manufacturing and circulation have not changed in decades and that the Treasury Department has been reviewing the coins' production. Obama has proposed similar reviews in the past but the measures stalled despite not being partisan points of contention.
·       Obama's 2014 budget had pegged the cost of manufacturing a penny at two cents and the price of a nickel at 11 cents. ~ (This version of the story was corrected to make clear that Treasury is not considering phasing out penny or nickel coins, is looking instead at using alternative metals) (Additional reporting by Patrick Temple-West and Emily Stephenson; Editing by Bill Trott)
The best is yet to come…..