Monthly Archives: September 2019

What Really Brought Down the Boeing 737 Max

This article is a long read and in case you haven’t seen it, worthwhile if you really want to know what brought these down.

The Cliff Notes version?

“Malfunctions caused two deadly crashes. But an industry that puts unprepared pilots in the cockpit is just as guilty.” 

This was sent to me by someone I’ve known a long time, a retired Air Force test pilot. He believes that this problem is only going to get worse, and chooses to fly on only a few airlines.

I have a good friend who bought his dream car a few weeks ago – and has discovered that it is so heavily invested in electronics and “driver aids” – he is starting to hate it. He calls his car “the beast“.

He almost rear-ended someone thinking his cruise control – with a forward radar that keeps the distance of the car ahead of you – was on.

Point is with that car and this issue, when we depend too much on electronic aids – use them as a crutch instead of an assist – we can get into trouble when the electronics fails.

As an aside, this author knows flying. In addition to his own credentials, his father wrote the classic book on piloting.

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The California that I Remember…

I was born in Los Angeles in 1950. My father was born in Los Angeles in 1920. As he told me very little of his life, I learned a lot from his friends and relatives. Since he died, I have learned a bit more from my mother.

He went to UCLA, and to pay his way through college, he worked as a page for then NBC-Radio. Although a page, he was acquainted with a lot of the stars, such as Bob Hope, Jack Benny, and others. I told my mother that it is a shame he didn’t write a book of his experiences.

Like a lot of young men of that time, shortly after Pearl Harbor, he enlisted in the Army in 1942 during his 3rd year at UCLA. He became a paratrooper in the 82nd Airborne, telling his mother that advancement was fast in the Airborne. My mother later asked him if he considered why advancement was so fast…

After the war, he had a hard time finding work before he took over his fathers import-export business, and my mother and I wonder why he didn’t use some of his contacts at NBC to get work there. Although I can’t see him as a studio exec.

His cousin there told me as boys they would ride their bicycles down the middle of Hollywood Blvd early in the morning. That’s hard to image today.

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The Ethics of Bankruptcy

A few days ago, one of the Lexicans on the F/B page posted the story of a trucking company who suddenly declared bankruptcy, leaving its drivers – and presumably the goods they were carrying for their customers, stranded all over the country.

Their fuel cards suddenly would not work in the pumps, effectively stranding them. Leaving them to figure out how to get home to waiting families.

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Technological Waves and Business

An Expensive Lesson

 

In the latter part of the 1980s, I received a rather expensive lesson. Perhaps it could be said that we all pay in one way or another to get our education. And it was a lesson in how companies, both large and small, can thrive or become swallowed by technological waves.

Because of some pressure by our then-competition, I felt I should design and offer to garages and oil companies a superior PC-Based program that would generate work orders for customers and track inventory.

I set to work for about 5 years.

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California’s Problems Part 2

Housing

 

I had a friend with an interesting commute. He worked in San Jose for a now defunct disk drive manufacturer, Maxtor (bought by Seagate I believe). He used to write the system code for the drives.

He lived in Reno, Nevada and every Sunday night would start his long commute to San Jose. I would say that he drove almost 300 miles, down the Sierras, through the Valley, then into the Bay Area. This could be through rain, snow, traffic.

Every Friday evening, he would drive back to Reno. I can only imagine trying to navigate the Bay Area traffic gridlock on the way back to Reno after a week’s work – then, what has become common, Sacramento area gridlock.

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Filed under Politics, San Diego, Small Stuff, SoCal, Travel

Software Testing

Ever since I got an iPhone 5S, I have been enamored with Apple products. The fit and finish, and ergonomics seems to be well thought out.

Heard about the new iOS 13 and I “upgraded” it for my SE the first hours it was available.

Now my reminder app, which I relied upon so heavily, is in shambles.

Over the years it has amazed me at how little so much software seems to have been tested before public release.  And in many instances, that which has been sufficiently tested was not used in the “real world” by the people actually needing it, but some programmer’s idea of how things should be.

Heck, look at the mess involving the 737 Max. Not much thought was put into the “what if’s”.

I think we can all relate to software like that.

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What Killed Off the Dinosaurs

What occasionally amazes me is how little we know about many things in the world’s past.

When I was in Egypt years ago, every guide had a different story as to how the pyramids were built.

My late father had to me a rather profound observation years ago: “Other than electricity we’ve been been pretty much the same since the ancient times.”

Think about every modern conveyance that requires electricity. Just about everything.

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Filed under Good Stuff, History, Other Stuff

The GM Strike

I can remember a time, back in the 70s, when General Motors was worried about having too much market share and stirring the Justice Department for divestiture. They had close to 50% of the market. Alfred P. Sloan’s plan from the 1920s of having a model for every budget and keeping a family in GM products for a lifetime built GM into an industry juggernaut.

In the interim, because of  a bloated management – too many layers of bureaucracy – and a union that was ever more demanding with rigid work rules and some of the highest labor costs in the world, the once-mighty company was brought to its knees on June 1, 2009 declaring bankruptcy.

So you’d think that the UAW – United Auto Workers – would do every thing it could to help nurture the company and protect the jobs of its members.

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California’s Problems Part 1

Government Regulations vs. Property Rights

 

Some years ago, my family spent a Thanksgiving at Bodega Bay, made famous from Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. There really isn’t a whole lot to keep you occupied at Bodega Bay. There is a golf course, whose houses are dangerously close to the fairway.

The breaking of plate glass windows along the fairway is so routine there was a sign at the clubhouse detailing the procedures – who to call – should you hook or slice at the tee.

Knowing my errant drives (and golf game in general) I chose to chip my way up the fairways.

So there’s golf.

Not much else.

Reading, and walking.

One thing that seems to be constant at Bodega Bay is the wind.

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Lucille Ball and Star Trek

In addition to being a comedienne whose work is still appreciated over 60 years later, Lucy had quite an influence in television. It could be said that I Love Lucy, started in 1951 with the dawn of television, became the template for the modern sitcom.

I had heard it said years ago that this show pioneered the 3 Camera Approach in filming. But others are saying not so fast – it was invented 4 years earlier, in 1947. Perhaps because the show was so groundbreaking and popular – it is still in syndication today – it got the credit.

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