April 17, 2021

Do you know how many Congressional Medal of Honors winners the state of Tennessee has had?  I did not either.  The answer—thirty-two (32). The Department of Defense officially recognizes thirty-two (32) recipients from the state of Tennessee. In fact, with the exception of the War or Terror, a Tennessean has received the Medal of Honor in every conflict since it was first created in 1861.  One of those is Mr. Charles H. Coolidge. 

A photograph of Mr. Coolidge is shown as follows:

A photograph of the Medal of Honor presentation is shown below.  Please note that a Lieutenant General is presenting the award.

A more recent picture is below. 

Charles H. Coolidge died Tuesday, April 6 at the age of 99. He was four months shy of his 100th birthday on August 4. His death leaves only one surviving World War II Medal of Honor recipient, ninety-seven (97)-year-old Woody Williams of West Virginia.  I had the great honor of ushering at the funeral and it was one of the most, if not the most, dignified events I have ever witnessed.  His burial took place at the Chattanooga National Cemetery.

Technical Sergeant Charles Henry Coolidge earned the Medal of Honor in 1944 for his heroic conduct during the U.S. Army’s epic struggle to capture heavily defended German positions in the Vosges Mountains region in eastern France. Over the course of four harrowing days from October 24-27, 1944, Coolidge, serving with the 36th “Texas” Division’s 141st Infantry Regiment, led a determined but inexperienced American infantry in a mission to support their battalion’s right flank against strong enemy forces. Then, with no officers present, Coolidge stood firm in beating back repeated German attacks backed by armor, frequently exposing himself to enemy fire and even advancing into the teeth of enemy assaults to break them up with hand grenades. Finally, facing overwhelming odds, Coolidge directed a tactical withdrawal, preventing what might have become a rout and saving many of his men’s lives. He was the last to leave his position. For these actions, Coolidge was awarded the Medal of Honor on June 18, 1945.

The auditorium was packed to celebrate the life of Mr. Coolidge with many men and women in uniform attending, both noncommissioned and commissioned officers.   The entire event was very impressive and indicated everyone’s great respect and admiration to a man who lived an exemplary life.  His son, Lt. General (Ret) Charles H. Coolidge, Jr. gave the eulogy providing a stunning account of a man who did it right as a husband and a father.    He will be missed. 


April 15, 2021

Some of the information for this post comes from the publication TechBriefs, March 2021 edition.

We have just witnessed one of the most awesome engineering feats in the history of our species.  The landing of the spacecraft Perseverance on the planet Mars was accomplished with remarkable precision. After approximately seven months and three hundred million (300) million miles, the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover landed on Mars on February 18th at approximately 3:55 p.m. EST.  In other words, NASA had the landing down to the minute.  From NASA, Perseverance left Earth traveling at a speed of twenty-four thousand six hundred (24,600) miles per hour or about thirty-nine thousand (39,000) kilometers per hour. The trip to Mars is approximately three hundred (3000 million miles from Earth. During that journey, the engineers working on the Perseverance mission had the ability to change the speed, direction and trajectory of the rover to make its arrival to the Red Planet an absolutely precise event. 


NASA chose the Jezero Crater as the landing site believing the area was once flooded with water and possibly home to an ancient river delta.  Conceivably, microbial life could have lived in the Jezero Crater during one or more of wet periods in the life of the planet.  The Jezero Crater tells a story of the on-again, off-again nature of the wet past of Mars. More than three point five (3.5) billion years ago, river channels spilled over the crater wall and created a lake. Scientists see evidence that water carried clay minerals from the surrounding area into the crater lake. Conceivably, microbial life could have lived in Jezero during one or more of these wet times. If so, signs of their remains might be found in lakebed or shoreline sediments. Scientists will study how the region formed and evolved, seek signs of past life, and collect samples of Mars rock and soil that might preserve these signs.  The site looks something like the following:

You will notice we have been there before. Jezero Crater is twenty-eight (28) miles wide, and is located on the western edge of a flat plain called Isidis Planitia, which lies just north of the Martian equator. The landing site is about two thousand three hundred (2,300) miles from Curiosity’s landing site in Gale Crater.  Jezero Crater sits within the Isidis Planitia region of Mars, where an ancient meteorite impact left behind a large crater some seven hundred and fifty (750) miles across. This event is known as Isidis impact, and it forever changed the rock at the base of the crater. A later, smaller meteorite impact created the Jezero Crater within the Isidis impact basin. Scientists believe that these events likely created environments friendly to life. There is evidence of ancient river flow into Jezero, forming a delta that has long since been dry.


The digital below will show the decent for the landing.  Please note the exact timing given below the digital.

Here’s a step-by-step timeline of the entry, descent, and landing sequence, beginning at the moment Perseverance’s heat shield first encounters the upper traces of the Martian atmosphere:

  • Entry+00:00: Atmospheric entry.
  • Entry+01:20: Peak entry heating, with temperatures outside the heat shield reaching about 2,370 degrees Fahrenheit (1,300 degrees Celsius).
  • Entry+01:30: Peak deceleration.
  • Entry+04:00: Perseverance deploys its seventy point five (70.5)-foot-wide supersonic parachute at an altitude of about seven (7) miles and a speed of about nine hundred and forty (940) mph. The craft deploys the chute when it detects that it has reached a predetermined distance from the landing site.
  • Entry+04:20: Perseverance jettisons its no-longer-needed heat shield, revealing a landing radar and cameras to help the spacecraft navigate to a safe landing site.
  • Entry+04:50: Radar lock on the Martian surface.
  • Entry+05:30: Perseverance obtains a terrain relative navigation solution by using images captured by on-board cameras to search for a safe landing site.
  • Entry+05:50: The Perseverance rover jettisons its backshell at an altitude of one point three (1.3) miles freeing the craft’s descent stage to fire eight throttleable retrorockets to slow for landing. After reaching an altitude of about sixty-six (66) feet, or 20 meters, the descent stage will lower the rover on Nylon cords to a distance of about twenty-five (25) feet. The rover’s wheels will deploy before setting down in Jezero Crater.
  • Entry+6:50: Perseverance lands on Mars. Pyrotechnics will fire blades to sever the Nylon cords connecting the rover to its descent stage, which will propel itself a safe distance away before impacting the Martian surface.

The actual placement of the rover onto the planet is envisioned as follows:

The rover itself looks as follows:


One other first represents a huge technology-demonstration component. A tiny helicopter named Ingenuity is flying to the Red Planet on Perseverance’s belly. In the early days of the Mars 2020 mission, Ingenuity will make a few test flights, trying to become the first rotorcraft ever to fly on a world beyond Earth. Success could open Mars to extensive aerial exploration in the future, NASA officials have said.

The Ingenuity copter looks as follows:

“As with everything with the helicopter, this type of deployment has never been done before,” said Farah Alibay, Mars Helicopter integration lead for the Perseverance rover. “Once we start the deployment there is no turning back. All activities are closely coordinated, irreversible, and dependent on each other. If there is even a hint that something isn’t going as expected, we may decide to hold off for a sol or more until we have a better idea what is going on.”

The helicopter deployment process will take about six sols (six days, four hours on Earth). On the first sol, the team on Earth will activate a bolt-breaking device, releasing a locking mechanism that helped hold the helicopter firmly against the rover’s belly during launch and Mars landing. The following sol, they will fire a cable-cutting pyrotechnic device, enabling the mechanized arm that holds Ingenuity to begin rotating the helicopter out of its horizontal position. This is also when the rotorcraft will extend two of its four landing legs.

During the third sol of the deployment sequence, a small electric motor will finish rotating Ingenuity until it latches, bringing the helicopter completely vertical. During the fourth sol, the final two landing legs will snap into position. On each of those four sols, the Wide-Angle Topographic Sensor for Operations and engineering (WATSON) imager will take confirmation shots of Ingenuity as it incrementally unfolds into its flight configuration. In its final position, the helicopter will hang suspended at about five (5) inches over the Martian surface. At that point, only a single bolt and a couple dozen tiny electrical contacts will connect the helicopter to Perseverance. On the fifth sol of deployment, the team will use the final opportunity to utilize Perseverance as a power source and charge Ingenuity’s six battery cells.

“Once we cut the cord with Perseverance and drop those final five inches to the surface, we want to have our big friend drive away as quickly as possible so we can get the Sun’s rays on our solar panel and begin recharging our batteries,” said Balaram.

On the sixth and final scheduled sol of this deployment phase, the team will need to confirm three things: that Ingenuity’s four legs are firmly on the surface of Jezero Crater, that the rover did, indeed, drive about sixteen (16) feet away, and that both helicopter and rover are communicating via their onboard radios. This milestone also initiates the thirty (30)-sol clock during which time all preflight checks and flight tests must take place.

“Ingenuity is an experimental engineering flight test – we want to see if we can fly at Mars,” said MiMi Aung, project manager for Ingenuity Mars Helicopter at JPL. “There are no science instruments onboard and no goals to obtain scientific information. We are confident that all the engineering data we want to obtain both on the surface of Mars and aloft can be done within this thirty (30)-sol window.


One reason I think this is amazing is I worked on the Titan II missile in the mid-60s. The Titan II shot the Gemini astronauts.  All equipment and instruments were analog—not digital.  There were backup systems for safety and it was man-rated so they were absolutely necessary but the Perseverance Program amazes me as to the absolute precision.  This could not have been achieved without the digital age having been accomplished.


April 14, 2021

Yesterday I was sitting with a group of guys, all trying to solve the most-pressing world problems existing today.  Since we all are basically retired, most solutions involved bringing up the “good old days”.  I heard the following: “back when I was growing up” ***(fill in the blank): “I don’t think Ike would have done It that way”: “reminds me of the time ****” (fill in the blank)., and my favorite, “even Harry Truman looks good compared to these goofballs we have running the country today”.   You can fill in the blanks as you see fit.  Then one gentleman made the comment, ‘if we all live another five (5) years, one of us, if not all of us, will own an all-electric or hybrid vehicle.’  That really got me thinking and after doing some digging, I came up with several interesting facts.  Let’s take a look.

OK, is it time to go electric?  Well, that certainly is a personal decision you have to make but some people think so.

  • Global sales of electric vehicles (EVs) increased by forty-three percent (43%) in 2020 to more than three (3) million despite overall vehicle sales dropping by twenty percent (20%) during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The global EV market is expected to grow almost forty percent (40%) every year from 2020 to 2027.
  • About three hundred and fifty (350) thousand eVs were sold in the United States in 2020. 
  • Insights predicts sales of at least five hundred thousand (500,000) units in 2021.
  • At the present time, President Joe Biden plans to electrify six hundred and forty-five thousand (645,000) federal vehicles over the next few years.
  • Electric vehicles save about seventy-five percent (75%) on fuel for fleet vehicles.
  • EVs save approximately sixty-five percent (65%) on maintenance for fleet vehicles.
  • EVs reduce greenhouse emissions by approximately eighty percent (80%).
  • In most countries, the top two emissions contributors are 1.) buildings and 2.) transportation.  I think this might be made clear when most countries experienced “lock-downs” due to COVID.  With not appreciable transportation, the air became breathable again.

I would like to indicate several companies are not only designing passenger vehicles but trucks and vans.  This is an excellent indication as to where the EV market is going, not only in the United States but on a global basis.


Ford officially confirmed plans to build a fully electric F-150 at the 2019 Detroit Auto Show. Information has shown a test version under development in Michigan. It looks very similar to the same version as the existing truck, except for a place to plug in and a slightly higher ride height for fitting the batteries underneath the cab. These vehicles are allegedly very early prototypes, though.

Ford indicated that the truck will be an AWD (all-wheel-drive) vehicle and will be the quickest F-150 to date.  Electric motors can crank out a ton of power at basically zero RPM, so the electric Ford truck should be fast off the line. The power figures have yet to be given but it is assumed the numbers will be similar to the metrics released for the Rivian R1T. The F-150 electric truck will come with dual motors.

The range remains a complete mystery at this point in time, but anything less than three hundred (300) miles would be a disappointment. Expectations are that the electric F-150 to top three hundred (300) miles with ease and believe it will offer more range than the Mustang Mach-E electric SUV.

Now, the price. which is the biggest unknown. Surely a pickup truck is expensive and the electric version of the F-150 will be no exception to this rule. We expect a sub $100,000 starting price, but this is simply just a guess at this point in time.  It is not to be expected that the F-150 EV will come close to matching the $40,000 base price of the Tesla Cybertruck though.  Due to the price, I will NOT be buying an electric F-150 anytime too soon.

The digital picture below shows the electric F-150.


Digital pictures of the RIVIAN are given as follows:

There is every reason to believe that Rivian will become one of the largest American companies.  This company is working on one hundred thousand (100,000)-plus delivery vans for Amazon at its Plymouth, Michigan facility.  It also has ties, as mentioned above, to Ford. An official launch is planned for June 2021 with deliveries starting in January 2022.  The range for the R1T will be two hundred and ninety-eight (298) miles with a starting price of $67,500.  The R1S has a starting price of $72,500.


President Biden recently announced that the six hundred and forty-five thousand (645,000)-vehicle federal fleet will go all electric.  Lordstown Motors is on the U.S. Post Office procurement shortlist for vehicles.  This facility will be introducing in 2021 the Endurance pickup truck with a range of two hundred and fifty (250) miles and a starting price of $52,500.  Its one hundred and nine Kw/Hr. battery and four-hub electric motors should give users six hundred horsepower.  The truck is shown as follows:


In 1998, General Motors (GM) purchased the brand name from AM General and marketed three vehicles: the original Hummer H1, based on the military Humvee, as well as the new H2 and H3 models that were based on smaller, civilian-market GM platforms.

Production is expected to start this year for the GMC Hummer EV with a starting price of about $80,000.  The range will be approximately three hundred and fifty (350) miles.  There is not that much information on the Hummer but a projected design is given below.


The Bollinger pick up trucks and SUV are called the Champagne of electric vehicles due to the high quality and hand-crafted, boxy-looking design. Bollinger trucks are the only Class 3 electric trucks on the planet. From the ground up, the dream was to build something that didn’t exist. Clean and simple, built to last. Nothing frivolous, nothing unnecessary. All electric. All aluminum. All wheel drive. And they are built in Detroit. I told you they were boxy so take a look below.

These vehicles are designed specifically for heavy work and off-roading, with a sealed assembly allowing them to keep running long after they get wet. They offer a six hundred and fourteen (614) horsepower engine with a two hundred (200) mile range.


This vehicle (shown below) will possibly start production late this year from the new Tesla facility in Texas. This truck is expected to have a range of five hundred (500) miles with the ability to tow up to fourteen thousand (14,000) pounds of cargo.  The estimated cost–$40,000.  If they can pull this one off it will be a huge seller.


Atlis is planning on one hundred (100) pre-production vehicles some time this year.  The range is very impressive and is hoped to be around five hundred (500) miles.  Starting price, $45,000.


Canoo raised $415 million USD through two rounds of private funding and offers two cargo vans in its lineup.  One van is listed with a starting price of just $33,000. The Los Angeles firm already has three hundred (300) employees, most of whom worked at other companies producing EVs.


Chanje (pronounced Change) is a company in partnership with Ryder Trucks. Ryder and Chanje received an order for one thousand (1,000) delivery trucks from FedEx in 2019.  This relationship should become more significant over time.  The V8100 version is an electric medium-duty panel van with six hundred and seventy-five (675) cubic feet of cargo space and a six hundred (600) pound payload capacity. It is a fast-charging version with eighty percent (80%) completion in about an hour’s time.  A digital picture is shown below.

In addition to these offerings, we have the following trucks and vans being developed.

  • Ford E-Transit Van
  • Lightning eMotors Van Conversions
  • Endera Shuttles
  • Arrival Vans and Buses (UPS, Hyundai, Kia, and BlackRock)


As you can see, things are moving.  The COVID-19 pandemic has delayed many design, development, and manufacturing efforts on a global basis.  Maybe the 2021 year will see these great products commercialized.


March 31, 2021

If you follow any of my blogs, you probably get the feeling that writing does not come easily for me.  Well you are absolutely correct.  At times, I labor over each word trying carefully to select the right one thus, providing the meaning I wish to convey.      One good thing–I have discovered the more I read the better writer I become, or at least I think this is the case.  Of course it’s incremental and you don’t automatically become Shakespeare by reading Shakespeare.  Also, there seemingly, is no fixed number of books read that make you a world-class author.   You get the picture.  I do love to read and this, in my case, is a very real benefit relative to the written word.  I always have a book going, sometimes two or three.  With this being the case:

 Some days ago, I completed a marvelous book entitled “Why School”, written by Will Richardson.  Mr. Richardson was teacher in the public-school systems in New Jersey for twenty-two (22) years and methodically develops the case for changing the way we teach by virtue of addressing the ways we NOW learn.  When I was growing up, we had radio, some TV, newspapers, magazines and books.  No Internet, no Facebook, no Twitter, no Google, no Yahoo, no instant messaging, etc.  As we all know, times have changed and dramatically—dramatically!   He makes the case that by virtue of the Internet, our kids are considerably more literate and resourceful when finding answers than we adults are now or possibly ever were.  “I need to Google that to find out how many members we have in Congress.”  “Can someone tell me the zip code for Red Bank, Tennessee?  I’ll go on line and find out.”  “Who was the thirty-eighth President of the United States?”  All of these answers are at our fingertips if we go on line.  Almost in an instant.   He emphasizes we rethink teaching by accomplishing the following:

  • Share everything (or at least something).  Talk to each other.
  • Discover don’t deliver ( the curriculum)
  • Talk to strangers. Don’t limit yourself to individuals you know.  Seek answers from the “guy who wrote the book” or at least someone who has read the book.
  • Be a master learner.  Know something about everything and everything about something.
  • Do real work for real audiences.
  • Transfer power.

As a result of COVID-19, more and more children are forced to work from home.  They use their computers to access lesson plans submitted by hard-working teachers.  In some cases, this is a workable solution and, in some cases, a real “bust” but it demonstrates the point made by Mr. Richardson. 

 His challenge is as follows: “Our kids, and we ourselves, can now carry the sum of human knowledge around in our pockets.  Teachers and classrooms are no longer found only in brick-and-mortar schools.  We can have teachers and classrooms with us wherever we go.  What’s needed for reading and writing literacy is evolving far beyond traditional definitions. In fact, by modern standards, most of us are illiterate.  In large measure, the professional and, to some extent, personal lives of our kids will be lived online in transparent, public ways that are vastly different from the much more private spaces most of us grew up in.  It’s now easier than ever to communicate, create, and collaborate with others from around the globe who share our passion to learn.  This changes just about everything when it comes to being educated.”

I think most of us have already discovered the “new” and alternate path to learning.  Who would have ever in a million years predicted a marvelous web site like Word Press?  One in which we all can “publish” for anyone who wishes to read.  A new way to learn.


March 31, 2021

Merriam-Webster defines language as “A systematic means of communicating ideas or feelings by the use of conventionalized signs, sounds, gestures or marks having understood meanings.”  The operative words in this definition are ‘means of communicating’ and ‘understood meanings’.  There are 116 different “official” languages spoken on our planet today but 6900 languages AND dialects. The difference between a language and a dialect can be somewhat arbitrary so care must be taken when doing a “count”.  English, French, German, Greek, Japanese, Spanish etc, all have specific and peculiar dialects; not to mention slang words and expressions so the discernment between a language and a dialect may be somewhat confusing to say the least.. 

The book of Genesis (Genesis 11: vs. 1-9) recounts a period of time, during the reign of King Nebuchadnezzar, when an attempt was made, by mankind, to become equal with God and that one language was spoken by all the people.  We are told that the attempt was not met with too much favor and God was pretty turned off by the whole thing.  Go figure!    With this being the case, He, decided to confound their language so that no one understood the other.  This, as you might expect, lead to significant confusion and a great deal of “babbling” resulted.  (Imagine a session of our United States Congress.)  Another significant result was the dispersion of mankind over the earth—another direct result from their unwise attempt.  This dispersion of the populace “placed” a specific language in a specific location and that “stuck”. 

Regardless of the language spoken, the very basic components of any language are similar; i.e. nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, pronouns, etc.  You get the picture. The use and structure of these language elements within a sentence do vary.  This fact is the essence of a particular language itself. 

Would mankind not benefit from a common language?  Would commerce not be greatly simplified if we could all understand each other? Think of all the money saved if everything written and everything spoken—every road sign and every label on a can of soup—could be read by 6.8 billion people.  Why oh why have we not worked towards that over the centuries as a collective species.  Surely someone has had that thought before.  OK, national pride, but let’s swallow our collective egos and admit that we would be well-served by the movement, ever so gradual, towards one universal language.  Let me backup one minute.  We do have one example of a world-wide common language—


Like all other languages, it has its own grammar, syntax, vocabulary, and word order, synonyms, negations, conventions, abbreviations, sentence and paragraph structure.  Those elements do exist AND they are universal.  No matter what language I speak, the formula for the area of a circle is A=π/4 (D)²

  • π = 3.14159 26535 89793
  • log(10)e = 0.43429 44819 03252
  • (x+y)(x-y) = x²-y²
  • R(1),R(2) = -[b ± ( b²-4ac)]^0.5/2a
  • The prime numbers are 2,3,5,7,11,13,17,19,23,29,31,37—You get the picture.
  • sinѲcscѲ = 1

 Mathematics has developed over the past 2500 years and is really one of the very oldest of the “sciences”. One remarkably significant development was the use of zero (0)—which has only been “in fashion” over the past millennium.  Centuries ago, men such as Euclid and Archimedes made the following discoveries and the following pronouncements:

If a straight line be cut at random, the square on the whole is equal to the squares on the segments and twice the rectangle contained by the segments. (Euclid, Elements, II.4, 300 B.C.) This lead to the formula:  (a + b)2 = a2 + b2 + 2ab

The area of any circle is equal to a right-angled triangle in which one of the sides about the right angle is equal to the radius, and the other to the circumference, of the circle. (Archimedes, Measurement of a Circle, (225 B.C.)  Again, this gives us the following formula:

A = 2pr·r/2 = pr 2

These discoveries and these accompanying formulas work for ANY language we might speak. Mathematics then becomes the UNIVERSAL LANGUAGE.

With that being the case, why do we not introduce the “Language of Mathematics” to our middle-school and high school pupils?  Is any school district doing that?  I know several countries in Western Europe started this practice some years ago with marvelous results.  This “language” is taught prior to the introduction of Algebra and certainly prior to Differential Equations.  It has been proven extremely effective and beneficial for those students who are intimidated by the subject.  The “dread” melts away as the syntax and structure becomes evident.  Coupled with this introduction is a semester on the great men and women of mathematics—their lives, their families, were they lived, what they ate, what they smoked, how they survived on a math teacher’s salary.  These people had lives and by some accounts were absolutely fascinating individuals in their own right.  Sir Isaac Newton invented calculus, was a real grouch, a real pain in the drain AND, had been jilted in his earlier years.  Never married, never (again) even had a girlfriend, etc etc.  You get the picture.  The greatest mathematicians of all time are said to be the following:

Isaac Newton Carl F. Gauss Archimedes Leonhard Euler Euclid Bernhard Riemann Henri Poincaré David Hilbert Joseph-Louis Lagrange Gottfried W. Leibniz Alexander Grothendieck Pierre de Fermat Niels Abel Évariste Galois John von Neumann
Srinivasa Ramanujan Karl W. T. Weierstrass Brahmagupta René Déscartes Augustin Cauchy Carl G. J. Jacobi Hermann K. H. Weyl Peter G. L. Dirichlet Leonardo `Fibonacci’ Georg Cantor Arthur Cayley Emma Noether Eudoxus of Cnidus Muhammed al-Khowârizmi Pythagoras of Samos

What do we really know about these guys?  Do we ever study them when we use their wonderful work?  I think not.  Think about it.  PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!


March 31, 2021

The first two paragraphs are taken from: “WISDOM TO GO”.  By Dr. Elizabeth Taylor

Members of the northern Natal tribes of South African greet one another daily by saying “Sawa bona”, which literally means: “I see you.” The response is “Sikhona” which means: “I am here”. This exchange is important, for it denotes that ‘until you ‘see’ me, I do not exist; and when you ‘see’ me, you bring me into existence. Members of these tribes go about their day with this personal validation from everyone they encounter – seen for who they are.  This speaks to the powerful intrinsic human need for validation, which we all share.  Compared to greetings in American and most western cultures this kind of deep acknowledgement of the ‘other’ on a daily basis is far more humane and vital, and it supports the wellbeing and integrity of the human community.  Our western way of saying “Hello.  How are you?” lacks this presence – this depth.  Often we greet in an automatic and rather perfunctory way, not really paying attention to the other’s response.  Ready to rush on once the greeting leaves our lips.  But the response we get may very well be “Well I’m not doing so great”.  We expect and assume a standard and predictable retort from the ‘other’, such as “I’m fine, and you?”which keeps us comfortable and not requiring any further effort or engagement on our part. Too often our greetings are not meant to go any deeper than superficial pleasantries.  We hear what we want to hear because we don’t want to or have time to engage at deeper levels.  We generally are not comfortable with and avoid those kinds of openings and intrigues.

What we stand to learn from the South African tribes is the importance of being ‘present’ with every person we greet during each day.  Our presence with them validates their humanity – which in-turn validates our own humanity.  We must watch and manage our tendency to rush through greetings, our tendency to not really ‘see’ or listen to others as they share their points of view or frames of thought.  We must monitor our tendency to get busy formulating assumptions and rebuttals while watching the other person’s lips move; and our tendency to impose criticism or even advice when it is not invited. These are forms of abuse, which often leaves the ‘other’ feeling bereft, assailed or treated in some unseemly way and embodying a vague sense of ‘dis-ease’ from a simple personal exchange. Moreover, these unsound feelings interfere with one’s further interactions, because this leftover ‘hurt’ energy must be relieved and acted out in some way.

These are definitely words of wisdom.  My wife and I were care-givers for a ninety-three (93) year old father (mine) and a ninety-five (95) year old mother (my wife’s).  Even though they were senior citizens plus, they each required the daily validation a visit and/or a phone call brings.  This validation is not age-dependent.  Even infants need validation given them by loving and caring parents for the best shot at a normal life.  This past weekend four (4) individuals, some children, were murdered in Chicago with thirty-two (32) individuals shot injured.  The gunfire resulted from gang members squaring off at each other.  Turf wars to be exact.  Grievances unresolved.    The philologists tell us gang members, usually young men, gather together for the validation not found at home within a strong family unit.  Their family is represented by the peer group they choose to associate with.  I think so much is lost when proper encouragement of a positive nature is not given no received; not just by the “gangs of Chicago”, but by individuals we meet on a daily basis.

I would challenge everyone to live, not just say “sawa bona” to those we see on a daily basis—friend, family or stranger.  We all deserve and need validation.


March 15, 2021

You probably will not appreciate the term replacement ratio when I tell you it applies to “fertility rates”.  If we look at death rate vs the birth rate, we see several very troubling trends.  I want to mention the idea for this post came from the pod cast “CALM CASH”.  Calm Cash is written, produced, and broadcast by Ben Jackson.  It’s an excellent source of information on several topics but specifically how to invest wisely.  Several facts for this article also came from a post written by James Gallagher. Mr. Gallagher works for the BBC and is the Health and Science Correspondent for them.

Let’s now define the term fertility rates:

The fertility rate, at a given age, is the number of children born alive to women of that age during the year as a proportion of the average annual population of women of the same age. If you want information relative to rates for each country the very best source is the CIA Information fact book at  It has a wealth of information on each country.

If the fertility rate number falls below approximately two point one (2.1), the size of the population for any one country or region starts to fall. In 1950, women were having an average of four point seven (4.7) children in their lifetime.  Researchers at the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation showed the global fertility rate nearly halved to two point four (2.4) in 2017.  Their study, published in the Lancet, projects it will fall below one point seven (1.7) by 2100.  So, why is the two-point one threshold important? You might think the number should be two (2.0) – two parents have two children, so the population stays the same size.  But even with the best healthcare, not all children survive to adulthood. Also, babies are ever so slightly more likely to be male. It means the replacement figure is two-point one (2.1) in developed countries.  Nations with higher childhood mortality also need a higher fertility rate.  The graphic below will indicate the projection.

OH, by the way, 2100 is this year.  As a result of the falling rates, researchers who keep track of such things expect the number of people on the planet to peak at nine point seven (9.7) billion around 2064, before falling down to eight point eight (8.8) billion by the end of the century.  When I first became aware of this fact, my reaction was—what’s the big deal?  Is this not a good thing?  When you look at trying to feed the world’s population you see right now that’s a huge problem in some countries.  Also, think of the worlds’ diminishing resources, water being the most scarce.  So, what is the problem?

“That’s a pretty big thing; most of the world is transitioning into natural population decline,” researcher Prof Christopher Murray told the BBC. “I think it’s incredibly hard to think this through and recognize how big a thing this is; it’s extraordinary, we’ll have to reorganize societies.”

It has nothing to do with sperm counts or the usual things that come to mind when discussing fertility.  Instead, it is being driven by more women in education and work, as well as greater access to contraception, leading to women choosing to have fewer children.  In many ways, falling fertility rates are a success story.  But as we look closer; we might become somewhat alarmed.  The graphic below will tell more of the story.

Japan’s population is projected to fall from a peak of one hundred and twenty-eight (128) million in 2017 to less than fifty-three (53) million by the end of the century.  Italy is expected to see an equally dramatic population crash from sixty-one (61) million to twenty-eight (28) million over the same timeframe. They are two of twenty-three (23) countries, including Spain, Portugal, Thailand and South Korea, expected to see their population more than halve. “That is jaw-dropping,” Prof Christopher Murray said.   China, currently the most populous nation in the world, is expected to peak at one point four (1.4) billion in four years’ time before nearly halving to seven hundred and thirty-two (732) million by 2100. India will take its place.  The UK is predicted to peak at seventy-five (75) million in 2063, and fall to seventy-one (71) million by 2100.

This fall in fertility produces an “inverted age structure”.  This inverted age structure (more old people than young people) and all the uniformly negative consequences of an inverted age structure,” is the real problem says Prof Murray. 

The study projects:

  • The number of under-fives will fall from six hundred and eighty-one (681) million in 2017 to four hundred and one (401) million in 2100.
  • The number of over eighty (80)-year-olds will soar from one hundred and forty-one (141) million in 2017 to eight hundred and sixty-six (866) million in 2100.

Prof Murray adds: “It will create enormous social change. It makes me worried because I have an eight-year-old daughter and I wonder what the world will be like.” Who pays tax in a massively aged world? Who pays for healthcare for the elderly? Who looks after the elderly? Will people still be able to retire from work?

Prof Ibrahim Abubakar, University College London (UCL), said: “If these predictions are even half accurate, migration will become a necessity for all nations and not an option.  “To be successful we need a fundamental rethink of global politics.  “The distribution of working-age populations will be crucial to whether humanity prospers or withers.”

I personally think this just might be crisis greater than global warming or sustainability.


February 18, 2021

So, tell me, do you remember your teachers in high school or college?  At the university I attended the first two years were considered, by our professors, the “wash-out” years.  Students in engineering would change majors or leave the school altogether.  Junior and senior year, the professors started paying attention.  They became interested in those of us who were interested.  Those who worked, came to class, asked questions, turned in homework.  I always thought this somewhat cruel but that’s just the way it wan.

For some reason, I remember most names of my teachers from high school rather than my university years.  One very unforgettable teacher in my high school was Ms. Robinson.  (OK, not that Ms. Robinson.)  Ms. Robinson was a professor of literature and taught at Central High School in Chattanooga, Tennessee for over thirty (30) years.   She always told us: “read the good books first”.  Of course, I think she meant the classics.  The last non-classic book I have read this year was “Until the End of Time”, written by Dr. Brian Greene.  Dr. Greene has a PhD in physics in addition to being a well-respected mathematician.  The book was fascinating; really “deep” and certainly made you think about where we came from and where we are going as a species.   I decided after completing this book, I would go back to the classics as professor Robinson suggested.  With that being the case, I have just finished reading “The Human Comedy” by William Saroyan, “The Pearl” by John Steinbeck. “The Dove” by Robin Lee Graham and now finishing up on “The Good Earth” by Pearl S. Buck.  Please note, these books are not lengthy books, the longest being two hundred and sixty pages.  A good one or two-day read for each.  

Let’s take a very brief look at the theme for each book.

THE HUMAN COMEDY:  This novel, set in a small American town during World War II, is a coming-of-age story anchored by the experiences of Homer Macauley, a teenage telegraph messenger who discovers truths about human experience in general and about himself in particular while delivering telegrams, many of which report on the deaths of loved ones. Episodic and poetic, with an emphasis on creating a portrait rather than developing a plot, The Human Comedy explores themes relating to the existential, essential loneliness of human existence and the different ways human beings strive and struggle to keep that loneliness at bay.  I thought the book was extraordinary in that it detailed a completely different era in time relative to today’s hectic and complicated pace.  The characters are not perfect by any means but they are real-to-life and exhibit personalities we many times see in friends and neighbors we know.

THE PEARL:  Kino is a young Mexican-Indian pearl diver married to Juana; they have a baby named Coyotito. Their lives seem rather peaceful, but their tranquility is threatened when a scorpion bites Coyotito. Juana tells Kino to go to town and get the doctor, but Kino and their neighbors tell Juana that the doctor will never come to where they live, so Juana decides to take matters into her own hands and sets off with Coyotito to the doctor. Kino accompanies Juana, and many members of the village follow them to see what will happen. At the doctor’s house, the doctor’s servant tells Kino and Juana that the doctor is not at home — in truth, the doctor is home but will not help Coyotito because Kino cannot pay the doctor as much as the doctor wants, but also because the doctor is prejudiced against Kino’s race.

Kino goes to work diving in the Gulf for oysters from his canoe; Juana tends to Coyotito in the canoe by applying brown seaweed to his shoulder, which is swollen from the scorpion’s bite. As Kino is collecting oysters on the ocean bottom, he spots a larger-than-usual oyster, collects it, and returns to the canoe. Kino does not want to open the oyster immediately, but Juana prompts him to open the oyster; when he does, he finds a pearl the size of a sea gull’s egg. Juana gazes at the immense pearl; she then goes to check on Coyotito and discovers that Coyotito’s shoulder is no longer swollen. Kino is immensely happy about both the pearl and Coyotito and yells loudly enough that he attracts the attention of the other oyster divers, who race toward his canoe.  This story is very sad indeed, at least from my standpoint.  Good read but with a terrible ending.

THE DOVE:  In 1965, sixteen (16)-year-old Robin Lee Graham began a solo around-the-world voyage from San Pedro, California, in a twenty-four (24)-foot sloop. Five years and thirty-three thousand (33,0000) miles later, he returned to home port with a wife and daughter and enough extraordinary experiences to fill a bestselling book called the Dove.  This is a true story and filled with unforgettable characters and places.  Mr. Graham’s parents must have been very compliant in allowing their son to sail around the world at the tender age of sixteen.  Great book.  Mr. Graham and his wife live in Montana today.

THE GOOD EARTH:  Wang Lung is a poor young farmer in rural, turn-of-the-century China. During the time in which the novel takes place, Chinese society is showing signs of modernization while remaining deeply connected to ancient traditions and customs. When Wang Lung reaches a marriageable age, his father approaches the powerful local Hwang family to ask if they have a spare slave who could marry his son. The Hwangs agree to sell Wang a twenty (20)-year-old slave named O-lan, who becomes his wife. O-lan and Wang Lung are pleased with each other, although they exchange few words.  Wang is initially disappointed that O-lan does not have bound feet.  (This I find to be really fascinating.  What one considers to be beautiful is always intreging.)

Together, Wang Lung and O-lan cultivate a bountiful and profitable harvest from their land. O-lan becomes pregnant, and Wang Lung is overjoyed when O-lan’s first child is a son. Meanwhile, the powerful Hwang family lives decadently—the husband is obsessed with women, and the wife is an opium addict. Because of their costly habits, the Hwangs fall on hard times, and Wang Lung is able to purchase a piece of their fertile rice land. He enjoys another profitable harvest, and O-lan gives birth to another son. Wang Lung’s new wealth catches the attention of his greedy, lazy uncle. Custom dictates that Wang Lung must show the utmost respect to members of the older generation, especially relatives, so he is forced to loan his uncle money despite knowing that the money will be wasted on drinking and gambling. The Hwang family’s finances continue to falter, and the Hwangs sell another tract of land to Wang Lung.  I will go no further but it’s a good read in my opinion does not have a beautiful ending.  Tough read this one.

CONCLUSION:  I think Ms. Robinson was correct when she said “read the good books first’.


February 15, 2021

The inspiration for this post came from a magazine called “Laser Focus World”.  This great publication lists several strategies necessary for companies to succeed in the face of uncertainty.  Is there doubt in anyone’s mind that 2020 presented uncertainty and 2021 will continue to present a great deal of uncertainty?  If so, you might be living in a cave.  If you are in manufacturing you certainly will know what I mean.

Laser Focus World indicates and recommends five strategies for coping in 2021 and years beyond 2021.

  • Digital Technologies—Harness, as much as you can, digital technologies to capture data, improve communication and simplify your approach to daily operational processes.
  • Critical Skills—Develop and grow needed skills in the workforce from the boardroom to the factory floor. External and internal capabilities need to be balanced to create sustainable creative advantage.  Training your workforce is absolutely critical to success.  Get them ahead of the digital curve. 
  • Supply-Chain Capabilities—Reassess supplier capabilities to create strong relationships and improve transparency.  Many companies are re-thinking their relationships with off-shore suppliers.  They are de-coupling for simplicity and to save valuable technology.
  • Rethink “Best” Attributes—Balance cost concerns; i.e., low cost, with broader supplier value.  Many times, the lowest cost component or assembly is not the best solution to long-term gains. I retired from a company that demanded that thirty percent (30%) of all components must come from low-cost countries.  Low cost can represent low-quality.  Cost vs. quality is a constant battle but generally you do get what you pay for.
  • Become the Company of Choice—Easier said than done but that given your company an extremely valuable position in the supply chain.  Strive to be that “go-to-company”.

Let’s now take a look at what most companies consider to be skills needed for today AND skills needed for the future.


  • Basics of modern programming or software engineering.  I know this may sound far-fetched but having at least one individual with these very basic skills will allow most companies to actively update digital capabilities when necessary.
  • Manufacturing skills. 
  • Excellent communication skills.  This, I feel, is an absolute must.  If you can’t tell someone or some vendor what, you want how is he to know what to provide?
  • Innovation skills. Successful companies think outside of the box.  (NOTE: I hate this phrase but it does apply in most cases to creative thinking.)
  • Traditional IT skills.  Now, these skills may be in-house or available from contract sources.  Computers will not go away; neither will the information they provide.
  • Data science.  The modern world lives on data accumulated, AND the factory of the future will run on data.
  • System thinking.  You must consider the entire system and not just one portion or one department in the system.
  • Analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Hardware skills
  • Influencing skills. This basically means negotiating skills.
  • Business skills; i.e., running a company.  
  • Digital experience skills, i.e., user experience.
  • Ability to work within a multi-disciplinary team.
  • Program management skills including the development of program schedules.
  • AI and machine learning awareness.


  • Deep understanding of modern programming or software engineering techniques.
  • Digital dexterity, or the ability to leverage existing and emerging technologies for practical business outcomes.
  • Data science.  This refers to the accumulation of significant amounts of data and how to “sift” that data for meaningful information.
  • Connectivity. More and more companies are going wireless with the ability to control processes on a remote basis.
  • Cybersecurity. Security is a huge issue.  With more and more information cloud-based, security becomes a critical skill
  • Manufacturing skills
  • Hardware skills, including development
  • AI and machine learning
  • Collaboration and communication skills. You must know how to talk to your vendors and provide needed information. 
  • Integration of resources into your business
  • Influencing and stakeholder management skills


As you can see, the companies that survive in the future will have to become much more sophisticated relative to their approach in the daily process of conducting business. 


February 14, 2021

Fifty years ago, Robin Lee Graham made international headlines when he became the youngest person ever to sail solo around the world. Today, he and his wife Patti live a quiet life on the shores of Flathead Lake.  OK, where is Flathead Lake?    Flathead Lake is located in the northwest region of Montana. The east shore is bordered by Montana Highway 35 and the west side of the lake is accessible from US Highway 93 between Polson and Kalispell.  They decided to live there years ago to raise their daughter as close to nature as they could.  In looking at the picture below you can see why they moved to this rather remote portion of the United States.

The whitecaps of Flathead Lake remind him of the five years he spent at sea as a young man. From 1965 until 1970.  When he was only sixteen (16), Robin made international headlines by becoming the youngest person ever to sail around the world solo — a title he held for seventeen (17) years. Robin’s story was told in countless newspaper and magazine stories, including three cover stories in National Geographic, a book and a 1974 movie, “The Dove,” named after the two boats he took around the world.

When Robin was ten years old (10), he convinced his father to buy him a small dinghy, which he later described in his book as “beat up but beautiful.” A few years later, Robin’s father decided to finally live out his own sailing dreams, purchased a boat and took the family on a months-long journey. Well, this adventure started wheels turning in Robin’s head and upon their return he considered a plan that would change his life forever.  Robin struggled at school and was more interested in the lessons he had learned abroad that boat than the ones taught in a classroom. Robin’s father decided the sea was a better place for his son, so he invited him to be his shipmate on a trip to the family’s new home in Hawaii. The trip was a brief return to the sea life Robin loved so dearly.

In Hawaii, Robin continued to struggle at school but made two friends who also loved to sail. The three boys put their meager savings together to purchase their own boat, a sixteen (16)-foot aluminum lifeboat.  The three hatched a plan to set sail to the island of Lanai. School was quickly put on the backburner.

On January 28, 1965, Robin and his friends set sail for Lanai. Before leaving he wrote a letter to his dad explaining why he didn’t tell him about the trip — “if I had done so you would have not let me go” — and that he loved him. But the trip quickly went off course when the three boys got trapped in a storm and spent a rough night at sea. The following morning, they turned on their transistor radio to learn that the U.S. Coast Guard was searching for them and that people back in Honolulu assumed they had died in the storm.    Amazingly, the boys made it to Lanai and there found several individuals enjoying a picnic on the beach.  These kind individuals drove them to the police station. The search was called off, and the following day they flew back to Honolulu. The boys were found guilty in a Coast Guard court of negligently operating a boat, a conviction that came with a one-hundred-dollar ($100) ticket, but the judge dropped the fine.

Because the new boat was in California, Robin had to sail it from there to Hawaii. But why stop there? In the spring of 1965, Robin began to think about sailing around the world by himself. Soon the thought hatched into a plan, and that summer he worked on the boat and stocked it for an unbelievable adventure. On July 27, he set sail. When I mean set sail, I mean for a trip around the world.  I’m not going to tell you the remainder of the story but he made it and his adventure was detailed in his own words in the book entitled DOVE.  It is a marvelous read and I definitely recommend it to you.  The book carries a copyright of 1972 so it’s not a recent publication but the story is one for the ages.  Can you believe this skinny sixteen-year-old young man sailed around the world?  He met his wife-to-be on that voyage. They are shown in the digital below.   

This is a picture of them now. 

You can see this was taken by the Flathead Lake in 2019.

READ THE BOOK. It’s a classic. 

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