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Archive for the ‘Cool People’ Category

Larry David and Bernie Sanders appeared on the Steven Colbert show consecutively. Larry David joked about having a 4-year job appearing on Saturday Night Live impersonating Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders, in turn, told Colbert that Larry David had better get used to it.

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Being from the United States, where we are currently governed by very old men and women, and the “new batch” of Democratic candidates more very old men and women for the most part, it is refreshing to see that the young are taking charge in other places of the world.

Here is a part of Finland’s new government:

From left to right:

  • Li Andersson, Minister of Education
  • Katri Kulmuni, Minister of Finance
  • Sanna Marin, Prime Minister, is currently the world’s youngest head of state, at age 34.
  • Maria Ohisalo, Minister of the Interior

The oldest if the above picture is 34.

These are just four of the 19 ministers of the government. Here is the site that shows the entire team. Some of them are a bit older. 12 out of 19 are female.

There is also one title that caught my attention: Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, held by Krista Mikkonen.

Finland is a country of 5.5 million people, which is about the size of any of these states:

  • Wisconsin
  • Colorado
  • Minnesota
  • South Carolina

Yes, Finland is a different kind of country compared to the U.S., but I’d venture to say we would benefit from some young people in our own government.

Bring in the young!

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In the current field of Democratic candidates for president, there are two Rhodes Scholars, which is somewhat unusual.

The Rhodes Scholarship is an international postgraduate award for students to study at the University of Oxford. It was established in 1902, making it the first large-scale programme of international scholarship. The Rhodes Scholarship was founded by English businessman and politician Cecil John Rhodes, to promote unity between English-speaking nations and instill a sense of civic-minded leadership and moral fortitude in future leaders irrespective of their chosen career paths

Wikipedia

The Rhodes Scholarship requires a very high academic record and successful extracurricular life.

In addition to:

  • Corey Booker (1994)
  • Pete Buttigieg (2004)

there are many other famous Rhodes Scholars, some of which I am listing here:

  • Edwin Hubble – astronomer, and one of the first Rhodes Scholars
  • J. William Fulbright (1928) – U.S. Senator
  • Kris Kristofferson (1959) – singer, actor
  • Wesley Clarke (1966) – U.S. Army general
  • Bill Clinton (1968) – U.S. President
  • Bill Bradley (1968) – professional basketball player, U.S. Senator
  • Naomi Wolf (1985) – author
  • Susan Rice (1990) – National security advisor
  • Bobby Jindal (1994) – Governor of Louisiana
  • Rachel Maddow (2001) – talk show host
  • Myron Rolle (2009) – NBA football player, medical doctor in neurosurgery

 

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On Saturday we traveled to Big Bear, California (a town up in the mountains) to watch our son Devin, at age 31, race the Spartan – The Beast. This is a 13.1 mile race with 30 obstacles and almost 6,000 feet of elevation gain on the course. Read all about it here.

Here is the course – photographed the banner at the beginning of the race.

It takes place at the Big Bear ski area, and some of the trails follow the slopes. We were able to see him leave at the starting line, then take the ski lift to the top of the mountain and wait for him there on stations 10, 14 and 15.

Here is champion before the race:

And here is his pit crew:

From left to right (the parental units): Norbert, Jack, Devin, Mary and Trisha.

Here is the starting lineup. Notice, to get into the starting area you have to climb over a wall.

The voice you hear is that of the announcer, getting the crowd ready.

They released the participants in batches of up to 250 people every 15 minutes. They carry chips that track their individual times. Devin was in the last batch for the day, and there were only a few participants left at that time. Other starting waves were packed with people.

Here is a view of the start.

Off they go, up the mountain.

After they left, we made our way to the ski lift and went to the very top. Here is a view of Big Bear Lake, and some of the racers below us:

Once on the top, in the background you can see one of my favorite mountains. This is the peak of San Gorgonio, at 11,503 feet (3,506 meters) the highest mountain in Southern California. I have been on its top many a time over the years, and I have loved being there every time.

The two of us bundled up and waiting in the cold at the top:

Then I waited for Devin at Station 10. It was good to know he was the one with the neon-green leggings. I could see him coming from a distance. I could tell from his pace that he was faster than most people.

At station 10 there is an 8-foot wall to climb over. Many people struggled with that wall, needed assistance up from fellow racers. Here is how Devin handled it:

After he dropped to the other side, I turned off the camera and ran around the wall, only to find him long gone, running up the hill. He was not waiting around for us spectators.

I was able to hike back up the mountain from 10 to 14, and Trisha and I waited for him there. It was freezing cold. The weather service had forecasted snow the next day. Good thing not today.

About 45 minutes later (see the map and the big loop on the left after station 10) he arrived at station 14, just as fresh and chipper as ever.

Station 10 had monkey bars to navigate. We watched many people struggle with these.

Judge for yourself on how Devin did on those. After he dropped off the monkey bars, he immediately ran away up the hill toward the next station, number 15. I went into a full sprint and ran up the hill on a side road, and I beat him to the top by just enough time to run over to the ropes and take this video:

After he dropped off he ran away. The picture below is the parting view.


We got back on the ski lift to make our way down into the valley. We had just enough time to go into the ski café, get a quick sandwich, before we needed to go back out and catch him at the finish. We ALMOST missed him. He was there as soon as we got out.

We were waiting for him at the mud bath pit, but missed him. This is what it looked like:

In the video below you can see him right after the mud bath (where they are completely in the water) making his way to the end. We missed the mud bath, so I have no video of it.

One of the last obstacles are the rings. Judge for yourself:

Here is Devin on the rings:

Then, finally, before the finish line, the barbed wire run.

I could hardly keep up with him taking the video.

Here is a pretty crappy sequence of him going through the finish line. I had to run around people to catch this, and my finger slipped over the lens a few times.

Victory!

Here he comes out with is medal.

The medal:

After this, he had to change into some dry clothes quickly as he shivered uncontrollably. He kept us busy trying to keep him warm. Note to pit crew for next time: Bring extra sweats, a towel, and warm accessories.

The next morning he found out about his statistics. He completed the race in 3:26:33 (hh:mm:ss).

In the open category, there were 3,995 participants. Devin came in number 2. That is incredible. Out of the open category for males between ages 30 and 34, there were 562 participants, and Devin came in number 1.

Incredible! Congratulations, Devin, from us all!

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A couple of weeks ago I drove westbound on Rancho California Road in Temecula, getting ready to turn left onto the I-15 southbound, when BAAAAMMM I was hit from the right. An SUV had tried to cross into my lane, apparently didn’t see me, and tore up the entire right side of my Prius, from the front bumper, through both right doors, the rear fender and the rear bumper.

I have never before been hit like that. I pulled over to the right side, and the car that hit me followed. It turns out the driver was a 15-year-old girl who was out on a practice ride with her mother two days before she was scheduled to take the test to get her driver’s license.

The poor girl was upset.

While we waited for the police to come, we exchanged information, taking pictures of each other’s driver’s licenses, registrations and insurance cards. When the police finally came, the officer didn’t actually do anything, since there were no injuries involved. He gave us each his card with the ticket number on it, and told us that we should both contact our insurance companies and they would work out the details.

I was depressed all the way home. I didn’t want to have to deal with getting the car fixed. It didn’t look like it would be cheap. The wheel was hit, and the entire right side of my car was scraped. The door didn’t open. The mirror was bent.

When I got home, I needed a break. I sat down at the TV and watched the depressing evening news. But I calmed down. At around 8:00pm I went to my desk and pulled up my insurance policy with 21st Century Insurance. It was time to call this incident in.

Just as I was getting started I received a call from Geico, the insurance company of the car that hit me. The agent first asked me whether I was ok, hurt in any way, and whether my car was drivable. I told him it was a bit wobbly at high speeds, since the wheel was hit, but I was able to take it home. He asked me to describe what had happened, and I did.

Then he told me that they would take full responsibility for getting my car repaired, and they would provide a rental car in the meantime. He was ok with me calling my own insurance company, but he didn’t think it was necessary, since they’d take care of the problem.

The gave me a phone number to call in the morning to take my car in.

The next morning, I called the number, and they told me to take the car to Henson’s Fix Auto, a shop in Escondido, not more than a mile from my office. I made an appointment at 10:30am.


When I walked into the lobby, there were three people there. The first person got up and introduced himself as the Geico representative. He’d take care of my problem. Then he introduced me to the lady at the other desk, who worked for Henson’s shop. She’d get the work done. And the other gentleman was a representative from Enterprise Rent-a-car, who was here with my car.

The man from Geico looked over my car with me and explained all that he saw and that they were going to do. Then he led me back into the office, and the lady from the shop gave me all the paperwork. The man from Enterprise handed me the key to the blue car he had brought for me and checked me into the car. I was out of there within less than 30 minutes.

It was the most pleasant, helpful and efficient customer service experience I can remember. Something as traumatic and upsetting as a trashed car was made easy and comfortable.

The next day Geico called me with the cost of $4,800 and assured me that Geico was taking responsibility. It would take two weeks to get the car fixed. He said he’d call Enterprise and tell them how long I’d need the rental car.

Every day in the last two weeks I received text messages updating me about the status of the repairs and that all was well.

Today I received the call that it was done and I could pick it up. I drove back, gave them the key to the rental car, checked out the repairs – looks beautiful – and drove away.

Geico has the most impressive customer service I have ever experienced. Henson’s Fix Auto shop does customer service like it should be done in the digital age. And Enterprise supplied me with a hassle-free car.

I hope the 15-year-old girl learned a valuable lesson about traffic from this and I hope she got her license. I remember the day many years ago when my own son totaled his first car, and how relieved I was that he was ok. He learned. We all want our kids to grow up alright, safe and responsible. And this family did the responsible thing and took care of this for me as effortlessly as it could be done.

And now I think I need to switch to Geico.

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I picked up this coffee table book recently:

The book is filled with pictures of Obama interacting with people, some famous, like the picture below, others just babies, children, etc.

With every picture, there is a quote from a speech. Here is an example:

I am president, I am not king. I can’t do these things just by myself.

— Interview with Univision, October 25, 2010

Obama is graceful, he has integrity, and there isn’t a single scandal or any type that I can think of that arose in his eight years in office. During the Obama years, it was never about Obama. It was about the country he served.

I do miss him.

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This has got to be one of the coolest things anyone has ever done. On February 6, 2018, Musk shot his Tesla roadster convertible with a space suited dummy in the driver’s seat on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket into an orbit around the sun. The car is now further away from the sun than Mars is. It will circle the sun for billions of years.

We’ll all be gone one day, but that car, and that dummy, will be like new, orbiting the sun.

The fact that a private individual can pull this off is fascinating to me.

Say what you will. Go SpaceX!

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…must be Ben Carson. I haven’t seen or heard anything from him or about him in a long time. When there are cabinet group pictures, or when they all line up behind Trump, sitting at the Oval Office desk, he is sometimes there, the only non-white in sight.

But seriously, while there have been reports of incompetence, or all-out ridicule about most other cabinet members, there really hasn’t been much reporting about Ben Carson.

So therefore, because there are no scandals and no gaffes to report, and since Trump hasn’t belittled him on Twitter in any way, I vote Ben Carson “the Most Successful Cabinet Secretary” in the Trump Administration.

I guess it’s not pediatric neurosurgery.

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A Daughter’s Reflections

My daughter’s inspiring story about getting her first tattoo.

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I will miss Senator McCain.

Here are some of my writings about McCain over the years:

Book Review: Faith of my Fathers

McCain’s vote on Obamacare

An Open Letter I sent to McCain and published here

There is much more in these pages. Simply type in McCain in the Search box above and find out.

 

 

 

 

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April 1, 1976 was the day I reported to military boot camp in Leipheim, Germany. I was a 19-year-old boy and the service was my first real job. No man ever forgets the day he goes into the military. I remember it fondly.

On April 1, 1976, that very same day, on the other side of the world, in a garage in Palo Alto, California, another boy, this one 20 years old, by the name of Steve Jobs, along with this engineer friend Steve Wozniak, founded Apple Computer.

Four years later the military discharged me, and I got ready to go to college, for math and computer science.

Four years later, on December 12, 1980, Apple launched its IPO, selling 4.6 million shares at $22 per share. The shares sold out almost immediately and the IPO generated more capital than any IPO since Ford Motor Company in 1956. Apple was worth $1.2 billion.

Then in 1997, Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy. Microsoft and its many partners in the personal-computer market were eating Apple’s lunch. Then they called back Steve Jobs.

Today, 42 years and 4 months later, exactly 15,554 days after that auspicious day of April 1, 1976, Apple became the first company in history to reach a market cap of $1 trillion. Nobody had ever reached that before. Exxon, which for decades was the most valuable company on the planet, is at $338 billion today, almost exactly a third of Apple’s value.

Congratulations, Apple. You are an inspiration to all entrepreneurs, and I must admit there have been many crossroads in my career and the life of my own company when I found myself asking: What would Apple do now?

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We Are Family!

Photo Credit: Lothar Frosch [click to enlarge]

There are ten siblings in our family. We were all ten of us together in a room for the last time on Christmas Eve 1978. Not once, since then, have all of us been together at the same time. It’s not like “normal” families with a few siblings, who can get together on the holidays. We’re spread over three countries and two continents. There was always at least one of us missing, and that one was mostly myself, due to my living the farthest away.

For the occasion of our dad’s 90th birthday on March 17, 2018, exactly 14,328 days after Christmas Eve 1978, we all got together and here is the picture.

The youngest of us, our brother on the left side, was four years old in 1978. He is now 44. I am the oldest, 5th from the left in the back. I was 22 then. You can do the math.

I can’t tell you how proud I am of being part of this great group of siblings.

 

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Last Sunday Trisha and I got married. Our guests were close family and friends. The instructions for gifts were “the four As:”

  • Art
  • Alcohol
  • Adventure
  • Activity

Soon they turned into five As, when some friends asked us about our favorite charity they could donate to on our behalf. So officially, it was now the five As:

  • Art
  • Alcohol
  • Adventure
  • Activity
  • Africa

For Art: We both love art. Our house is full of original art I made, and people have given us, to the point where there are dozens of unframed paintings stacked in storage. Art, and anything related to art, is always an exciting gift for us.

For Alcohol: We are not drinkers at all. Trisha loves her wine, and she’ll go to a local winery for a tasting, but I suspect more for the social adventure with a friend than for the wine itself. As my daughter pointed out in her wedding speech, “Dad used to drink one beer a year…” and it made it sound like it’s a lot more now. But not really. I have a rule that I can have one drink a day. I do enjoy some exotic stuff, like Cognac, or Absinthe. One friend asked in advance if coffee fit under alcohol, and I said Yes!

For Adventure: We like to do things out of the ordinary. We recently took a ride around San Diego in a biplane. Your get the idea.

For Activity: Take us out to dinner, get us to eat something, do something, or learn something.

For Africa: Send money to Save the Rhino Trust in Namibia. Trisha recently was in Botswana and connected with many good people who work for the conservation of endangered wildlife.

I must say that the five As ( Art-Alcohol-Adventure-Activity-Africa ) was a resounding success. But one fried (JW) took it over the top and I could not help feature his gift here:

He said that since the gift had to start with A, it was a pretty easy choice:

  • Absinthe
  • Applejack
  • Aquavit
  • Arak Sannine
  • Armagnac
  • Amontillado

…where the latter came with the book by Edgar Allan Poe, the Fall of the House of Usher and Other Tales, where the inscription by JW pointed us to page 162, where the story The Cask of Amontillado started.

Try to even find a place where they sell all these exotic examples of fire water!

Now I have a lifetime to spend, one glass a day, working my way through the As.

Then come the Bs.

Oh, married life!

 

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John McCain recently made a lot of headlines. His decision to kill the repeal of the Affordable Care Act may have been the most influential, and the most controversial, vote of his career. His illness may require him to retire soon, but I have always believed that he was an American hero.

I haven’t always agreed with him. If you search this blog for the name “McCain” you will find many posts, some negative, and some praises. I don’t always have to agree with a man on everything to respect him. Let me say it right here: I have always respected John McCain.

If you are at all interested in McCain’s career, here is a review of his book Faith of My Fathers.

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