Author Archives: Bill Brandt

An Interesting 24 Hours

And the kindness of strangers

 

I just got back (literally 10 minutes since the Uber driver dropped me off), and she was laughing hysterically at my account of the last 24 hours of my trip to Lake Louise, Banff National Park.

It has been a strange time – well, starting last night.

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Maybe A Neuroscientist Can Explain It

I’ve gotta laugh.

At myself.

I think there is a lotta material there.

And this isn’t the first time this has happened.

From time to time, I have mentioned some adventures with my old 1996 Mercedes-Benz SL500, a.k.a. “Gabriella”.

About 6 months ago, I lost her electronic key. Scoured the house. Assumed it fell out of my pocket….somewhere. I became resigned to ordering another from the dealer.

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Filed under Humor, Idiots Among Us

China at 70

Growing up throughout the Cold War, the beginnings, height, and end, I have strong memories of China under Mao.

I can remember a China isolated and considered an international pariah by the West. If you were from the West and found yourself in China you generally disappeared.

And life under Mao Zedong was extremely harsh for most Chinese. Historians sometimes wonder who killed more of their own people – Hitler or Stalin?

Chairman Mao is usually left out.

Through the 1966 Cultural Revolution, I have read that during his reign while of course no exact count exists, up to 100 million Chinese were killed since the revolution in 1949 to enforce his Communism.

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All In the Attitude

Since I am writing about a friend who doesn’t know I’m writing about, I’ll keep everything anonymous.

I’ll call him “Luke”. 

I’ve known Luke probably 25 years or more.

I have known him since he had a slight condition of something which was undiagnosed.

From his needing a cane and thinking it was multiple sclerosis, to the right diagnosis of ALS a.k.a. Lou Gehrig’s disease.

Through it all, you’d think he didn’t have a care in the world.

He has always been in good cheer with a smile.

After 25 years he needs to ride on a motorized device with a specially equipped van.

I have never seen him feeling sorry for himself or in bad spirits.

Told his mother sometime ago that he is an inspiration for mankind.

Going through life you meet people with not 1/10 of his problems feeling like it’s the end of the world. Letting others know it. 

Something I read some years ago always stayed with me: that we think we are a physical body housing a spirit.

But we’re really a spirit surrounded by a physical shell. 

And Luke has a beautiful spirit that shines through that broken shell.

I’m proud to call him a friend.

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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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Filed under Airplanes, Flying

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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Filed under History, Hollywood

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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