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Archive for the ‘Cool People’ Category

Source Reddit.

I am looking forward to the pictures of the guys in Russia directing the RNC next week.

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It will come early: ‘Fox News is now projecting Joseph R. Biden is the President-Elect of the United States’ The American people are going to throw you out of office. You will be repudiated and disgraced. You’ll leave nothing behind but the stench of epic failure. No American has ever failed this country worse than you. None. Your incompetence, ignorance, ineptitude, and old fashioned stupidity have caused the economic collapse and made the U.S. the epicenter of coronavirus death and suffering. You have shattered American alliances and weakened our military. You are a disgrace. Your name will be a synonym for losing, failure, and weakness. Biden is crushing you, and you want to know why? It’s because he is a good man and you are a bad one. He cares about the American people and you do not. He is respected on the world stage and you are laughed at like some type of grotesque and buffoonish clown. He is capable and you are not. You attack because you are scared. Take a minute to look at the picture of Fred Trump on your desk. Do you think he would be surprised by your failures? He would not. He bailed you out over and over again. He bailed you out because you couldn’t cut it as anything other than a con man. There will be no monuments and no encomiums for you. The whole country has watched you fail. The whole country is watching your increasingly feeble state. The whole country is watching you lose. We will all watch you return to your golf clubs as the biggest loser the American presidency has ever produced.”

– Steve Schmidt: former Republican strategist

Steve Schmidt is one of my favorite Republicans, albeit a “former” one now.

There is only one extremely important bad decision that Steve made back in 2008 that had profound impact on the American political system and truly shaped the world we live in. Remember he was McCain’s campaign manager.

He helped pick (and consented to choosing) Sarah Palin as John McCain’s running mate.

If he had not picked Palin, I believe McCain would have won the 2008 election. I would have voted for him, and so would have many others. McCain would have been president, presumably for two terms. We would have had eight years of solid conservative leadership under McCain and dignity in the office of the presidency. Obama, still very young at the time, would have risen, and been elected in 2016. We’d now be in the first Obama term. He would be running for reelection right now. The “tea party” movement of 2009 would not have happened. Trump and all that he stands for would never have risen.

Our world now is a truly different world from that, fashioned by Steve Schmidt’s direct contribution.

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Any Female Urethra?

Here is a Facebook post by a good friend whom I have not seen in a long time. Thanks for this post, KL.

This will give you pause at first:

What weird little superpowers were you issued instead of the Flight and Super Strength you put in an order for? I have three:

1) I can catheterize just about any female urethra that crosses my path. Any species, although I have never been called upon to come to the aid of a hyena.

2) I am a clockhead: if I want to wake up at 2:13 AM, I wake up at 2:13 AM. Not that this makes me prompt.

3) And, like all middle-aged women, I get the invisibility superpower by default.

Your turn!

Now that you’re scratching your head about superpower #1, I should add that she is a veterinarian.

She is also one of the most quirky-humored persons I have ever met, and I can attest to the fact that she can keep you roaring with laughter for hours around the campfire with what she has experienced with all manner of animals large and small.

Ever wonder about a catheter for an elephant? She will have a story.

Thanks, KL, for adding some smiles in this gloomy world.

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Next Wednesday, May 27, 2020, is a big day. For the first time since July 8, 2011, American astronauts will be launched on an American spaceship from American soil.

When NASA grounded the space shuttle fleet in 2011, I didn’t think it was a good idea, and I never would have thought that for almost 10 years America would not have the capacity to launch humans into space. Of course, I also didn’t think in 1973 that we would not return to the moon for another at least 50 years.

On May 6, 2002, a 29-year-old South African immigrant named Elon Musk started a little company called SpaceX in Hawthorne, California. He wanted to make space travel cheaper so Mars could be colonized. I was a businessman in 2002, and if you had asked me if it was a good idea to start a rocket company I would have said you were insane. If you then had asked me if it was a good idea a year later to also start a car manufacturer in the United States, I would have said you’re insane squared. Musk did both of those things in 2002 and 2003 respectively, and has run both of those companies in parallel ever since. If you want to read a good biography of Musk, I can highly recommend Ashlee Vance’s Elon Musk.

The rocket and the spaceship that will launch two American veteran astronauts next Wednesday are built by SpaceX. This will be the first time ever a private company launches humans into orbit. I would not have thought this was possible in 2002. If told it was, I would have bet that the company doing it would be Boeing, or McDonnell Douglas, or Lockheed, but certainly not a startup.

I have been a businessman all my life myself. I have had many product launches, and deployments of new things for the first time. I know what it’s like to bet your company on a single product or a single project, and then succeed. I also know what it’s like that last night before “go live” when a thousand things can go wrong and make the whole project come crashing down. I know that the CEO can’t sleep the night before an important launch. I know how it feels when the pulse races, and the circular thinking at 2:30am does not let you calm down. I know what it feels like when all is at stake.

But even knowing all this, I cannot imagine what it must be like in Elon Musk’s life right now, for the next few days, when all is at stake and all the world watches as two American astronauts sit on top of a stack of highly explosive fuel to go to orbit, something no private company has ever done before. If something goes wrong, people die.

The pressure must be enormous.

I will be watching, and I am rooting for SpaceX and Musk.

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There is one man in the world who knows how to move air: James Dyson.

We have a vacuum cleaner with his name on it in our house.

He designed fans with no blades.

Now, in 15 days, he designed a ventilator that can be produced at scale and quickly.

These are the brains we need during times of war and crisis. These are the real heroes.

The Dyson Ventilator article at CNN.com.

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Back on July 18, 1963, as the AFS [see below] students who had spent their high school year in the United States, were preparing to go back to their countries, they got to visit the White House. JFK talked to them.

It would be another 11 years before I had the privilege to be chosen as an AFS student. I arrived in the United States two weeks after Nixon’s resignation on August 20, 1974. Our group did not get to visit the White House when we went home in July of 1975.

All my life I have been proud to have been an AFS student and to carry the mission forward of spreading peace in the world, one person at a time.

It’s gotten a little more difficult in recent years.

[AFS stands for American Field Service, today the largest and most famed high school student exchange program in the world]

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Salsa World Traveler has nominated me for this award. I am honored. This is the first time I have ever responded to a blogger award. I am not continuing with 11 more nominations, but I am going to answer his questions here.

His Questions for the Nominees:

1. Why do you blog

To figure out how I feel about the world. It makes me think about something of significance once a day – since I try to post once a day, but usually don’t succeed with that frequency.

2. In your view, what makes a truly great post?

Creative content or new information. A poem you wrote, a photograph you took that tells a story, a piece of information that I didn’t know but am interested in hearing about.

3. What is hardest about blogging for you?

Keeping the boundary of privacy and publicity. My blog is not about me, or my life, or my family, or my friends. It’s about the things I want to share. I try to keep the “me” out of it. It’s not about me, but about the subjects I write about. Much of the time, I do not succeed. It’s a constant battle. Because our lives are so consuming, and they come into it.

4. What airline, if any, is your favorite?

American Airlines is the only airline where I have the top tier elite status, so I travel with a lot of perks. However, I just read that American is on the bottom of the “best American airlines” scale. Delta is on the top, but I have traveled on Delta maybe five times in my life, versus probably 2,000 times on American.

5. Hotel, B & B, or AirB&B?

Hilton baby, always Hilton. I am a lifetime Diamond member. I don’t need flowered bed spreads, cute wash basins and creaky wood floors of a B & B. I don’t want to talk to the matron and I don’t want to meet other travelers. Hilton, baby!

6. Have you ever deleted a comment, and if so, why?

I can’t remember doing that ever. Even the harassers get their voice. 

7. How do you like to spend time when not blogging?

I have a very consuming job which takes all my time and energy. What little is left goes to my wife and sparing social activities, painting and art (much too little time) and I read at least an hour a day.

8. What type(s) of music do you like?

Traditional Hawaiian, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Cat Stevens, Elton John – I was coming of age in the 1970s obviously.

9. If you could pick three people to have lunch with, who would you choose?

Barack Obama

Bob Dylan

Salsa World Traveler

10. What sports team is your favorite, if any?

None. I have zero interest in organized sports – any sports. I hike, climb mountains, have a black belt in Tae Kwon Do, but I do those things on my own. I don’t need to see others doing them.

11. Have you previously been nominated for a blogging award?  If so, which ones?

Many times, and I have ignored them all. I can’t remember which.

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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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