Author Archives: Bill Brandt

Innovation and Guinness

A Post Hizzoner Would Have Found Interesting

I thought Guinness was just a great beer with a long history. Apparently it is a company steeped in innovation going back 100s of years. To attract and keep the best talent, they offered company benefits that today would be considered cutting edge by companies like Google. Only they started this 100s of years ago.

The key to Guinness’ robustness has been innovation. Through a series of key innovations, Guinness was able to stay on top despite (among other things) a famine, mass emigration, two World Wars, a civil war, and the changeover from British to sovereign rule. Guinness is responsible for changes in workplace relations, several foundational advances in the physics of brewing, and even the famous Student’s t-test in statistics. Indeed, Guinness has been one of the key drivers of innovation in Ireland.

And it all started in 1759 with a 9,000 year lease on the property.

H/T to David Foster of Chicago Boyz

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Apollo 11: A Bit of Alternative History

Today marks the 53rd anniversary of that famous flight that Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins took to the Sea of Tranquility. I wrote a bit some time ago of where I was that day – in the back country of Sequoia National Park, flown in by helicopter, and clearing the trails of fallen trees. That evening, I was in my sleeping bag, looking up at the moon through these massive redwoods. I had a little 6 transistor radio, and was listening to the scratchy station in the Central Valley that it was pulling in. To hear Armstrong’s voice and looking up at the moon through those redwoods, filled me with wonder and awe.

I’m in a Facebook group that I have come to learn is filled with a lot of “movers and shakers” of NASA, past and present.

I posed the question, “where were you on that historical day?”


I’m reposting a few of their (anonymous) answers.

“I was flying a combat mission during the Vietnam War. Listened to the lunar landing on one of our radios that was broadcasting Voice of America. Back on the ground at the O-Club to watch Neil come down the ladder. A never to be forgotten sense of pride in being an American.”

“I was ten. My sister 13. We were sitting on the couch under the window air conditioner, covered in a blanket because we were cold as we watched on the black and white console tv. Somewhere before the landing I was annoying my sister who called for mom. She was on the phone with someone, and the cord wouldn’t reach us (thank goodness for corded phones!). So she threw a shoe at me to get me to stop. And the Eagle has landed! 😉 “

“It was first day of 2 weeks at Boy Scout camp with no TV. …That night in the tent, I listened to first half of moon walk on my transistor radio until the battery died.”

I was 9. Four days earlier, we’d been to the Cape to watch the launch. Now I was trying to stay awake for the first step. I can’t remember if I actually saw it live: I was dozing in and out.”

“I was a 16 year old space nerd. We had gone to my 5th grade teacher’s house (who was my mother’s best friend) to watch the moonwalk. I was absolutely transfixed by what I was seeing…humans were walking on the moon (and I knew better than to say “I wish I was up there”). After the walk was completed, I got my telescope out to see if I could find the LM. No luck but it was worth the try.”

“Our family had recently moved into a brand-new townhome in the Denver suburbs. That was the day the patio was poured, and I was allowed to carefully write the date and a little drawing of the moon in the fresh concrete.”

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GB – VMFA XXXIII

Posted by asm826 on October 24, 2006

Tom and Bill came out of the doorway as Gunny Ceisak and Sgt. Collins walked by. They waved and the Gunny stopped. Bill grinned, “How about a beer, Gunny?”

Gunny motioned up the street, “Alright, but let’s find a quieter place. I’ll buy the first round.”

“Good deal, we’ve had all the noise we need.”

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GB VMFA XXVIII

Posted by asm826 on September 27, 2006

To those of you who have been taking the time to read my words, I apologize. I have made several starts at the last evening I had with Emie. I have found that thus far it has resisted my ability to write it for Lex’s site. It was an interesting evening, and it ended on the bridge, with her riding down in a jeepney to walk with me to the gate.

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GB VFMA – XXXII

Posted by asm826 on October 21, 2006

Crossing the bridge, Bill and Tom stopped and looked up river. The water swirled around the bridge supports. The level was several feet higher than the day before. The smell was muted, the flushing effect of the increased flow had carried the floating islands of waste out into the bay.

“I still wouldn’t swim in it.”

“Oh, c’mon. It’s your last chance.”

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GB – VMFA XXX

Posted by asm826 on October 7, 2006

The pilot stepped into the terminal and came over to the windows where they stood. His flight suit was soaked and small puddles started to form as the water dripped off the legs of his pants.

“Who’s in charge?”

“I am, sir. Gunnery Sergeant Ceisak.”

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GB – VMFA XXIX

Posted by asm826 on Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Tom shouldered the door open and walked into the Cubi Point terminal with his seabag slung up on his shoulder. Outside the main windows, a C-130 sat with one engine turning. A quick survey of the Marines gathered told Tom a lot about how the last night had gone for most of them.

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GB – VMFA XXVI

Posted by asm826 on September 14, 2006

The roar of the last Phantom taking off faded out as the aircraft disappeared into the dark clouds that hung over the mountains in the distance. The flightline was empty. The fourteen members of the rear party walked back into the hanger.

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GB – VMFA XIX

Posted by asm826 on August 25, 2006

Emie sat down at a glass topped table near the door of the shop. Tom and Bill joined her. The air conditioner over the door hummed and clicked, but it worked, pouring a stream of cool air into the ice cream shop.

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Celebrating July 2nd

Apparently we’ve been 2 days off.

On July 2, 1776, the Second Continental Congress unanimously adopted a resolution stating “That these United Colonies are, and, of right, ought to be, Free and Independent States.” Two days later, after further debate, it approved the Declaration of Independence, the document that, over time, brought eternal fame to its main author, Thomas Jefferson.

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