JACK REACHER

May 25, 2020


Last year a good friend of mine introduced me to the writer Lee Child.   Mr. Child created the character Jack Reacher who is, in my opinion, one of the most unique and interesting individuals in literature.  He is not quite a shining hero and has numerous flaws but he gets the job done.

JACK REACHER—THE CHARACTER

Reacher left home at eighteen (18), graduated from West Point. Performed thirteen (13) years of Army service, demoted from Major to Captain in 1990, mustered out with the rank of Major in 1997. Born on an Army base in Germany. His father chose his name; it read “Jack-none-Reacher” on the birth certificate faxed to the Berlin Embassy. They called his brother Joe, but nobody ever called Jack by his first name. How it came about, no one knows but Jack was always called Reacher.

His father was career military so as kids, Jack and his brother moved so much that spending a full school year in any one place felt weird. “Our friends just kept disappearing. Some unit would be shipped out somewhere and a bunch of kids would be gone. Sometimes we saw them again in a different place. Plenty of them we never saw again. Nobody ever said hello or goodbye. You were just either there or not there.”

If we look at his service awards, we see the following:

Top row: Silver Star, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit
Second row: Soldier’s Medal, the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart
Bottom row: “Junk awards” (Or so he calls them.)

“Medals?” we ask?  And he answered:


“Dozens of the damn things,” he said. “You know how it is. Theater medals, of course, plus a Silver Star, two Bronzes, Purple Heart from Beirut, campaign things from Panama and Grenada and Desert Shield and Desert Storm.”


“A Silver Star?” we asked. “What for?”
“Beirut,” he said. “Pulled some guys out of the bunker.”


“And you got wounded doing that?”  “That’s how you got the scar and the Purple Heart?”
“I was already wounded,” he said. “Got wounded before I went in. I think that was what impressed them.”

What he doesn’t have: A driver’s license, Federal benefits (doesn’t want them), tax returns (doesn’t do them; he hasn’t filed taxes since he left the Army).  Major, US Army retired, travels from place to place taking nothing with him but the clothes on his back and a toothbrush.  He is definitely a wondering star which is why he is so unique.  He wears his clothes until needing new ones, trashes the ones he has, and starts out again. 

The stories that I love are basically about the knight-errant, the mysterious stranger. And the reason why people think that’s an essentially American paradigm is the Westerns. The Westerns were absolutely rock solid with that stuff. You know, the mysterious rider comes in off the range, sorts out the problem, and rides off into the sunset. It is just such a total paradigm, but not invented in America. That was imported from the medieval tales of Europe. The knight-errant: literally a knight, somehow banished and forced to wander the land doing good deeds. It’s part of storytelling in every culture. Japan has it with the ronin myth; every culture has this Robin Hood idea. So really, that character was forced out of Europe as Europe became more densely populated and more civilized. That character no longer had stories in Europe; it had to migrate to where the frontier was still open and dangerous, which was America, essentially. So, the character, I think, is actually universal and historic, most recently, normally represented in America. I think the Westerns saw it firmly adopted by America, so yeah, right now, we think of this as a completely American character, but really, it’s more historic than that. But I’m very happy to have that reference made.

LEE CHILD

James Dover Grant CBE (born 29 October 1954), is primarily known by his pen name Lee Child. He is a British author who writes fiction “thriller” novels, and is best known for his Jack Reacher novel series. … His first novel, Killing Floor (1997), won both the Anthony Award, and the Barry Award for Best First Novel.

As mentioned, Mr. Child was born in 1954 in Coventry, England, but spent his formative years in the nearby city of Birmingham. By coincidence he won a scholarship to the same high school that JRR Tolkien had attended. He went to law school in Sheffield, England, and after part-time work in the theater he joined Granada Television in Manchester for what turned out to be an eighteen-year career as a presentation director during British TV’s “golden age.” During his tenure his company made Brideshead RevisitedThe Jewel in the CrownPrime Suspect, and Cracker. But he was fired in 1995 at the age of 40 as a result of corporate restructuring. Always a voracious reader, he decided to see an opportunity where others might have seen a crisis and bought six dollars’ worth of paper and pencils and sat down to write a book, Killing Floor, the first in the Jack Reacher series.

Lee Child has written twenty-two (22) Reacher books and has numerous short stories to his credit.   I have read eight (8) Reacher novels and what I find very interesting is there are no two plots remotely similar—same Reacher style but differing in outcome and story line.    Always interesting twists in each and generally a surprise ending awaits the reader.  Also, very interesting and somewhat challenging;

there is a great diversity of characters in each Reacher book.   Mr. Child takes great care in developing each character, thus giving the reader enough background information to keep our undivided attention.  Another thing, most of the characters are really evil, mean and contemptuous scum.  The worst of the worst.  Keeps things really interesting as to how Reacher overcomes all adversaries to achieve an eventual successful outcome.  The good guy always wins in the Lee Child books.

Now, one “bone to pick”, Tom Cruise played Jack Reacher in two movies and Mr. Cruise was not quite the fit needed relative to the character in Lee Child’s books.  Reacher is six foot five inches tall.  Cruise is five foot seven.  Reacher is two hundred and fifty pounds, Cruise probably, one hundred and seventy-five at the most.  Don’t get me wrong, Cruise is a very good actor but that was a real flaw in casting.

I think you will certainly enjoy Reacher the character and all of the Child books.  Mr. Child is a “word-smith” in the truest since of the word and can certainly weave a great mystery novel. 

LOSING BUSINESS

May 18, 2020


Cuando yo era nina, mi familia y yo siempre ibamos de vacaciones a Montevideo or a Rio de Janerio. 

Did you understand the sentence above?  If not, maybe you should have. Let’s look:

 When I was a child, my family and I always used to go on vacation to Montevideo or to Rio de Janerio. 

I certainly did NOT know that in 2015, the United States had more Spanish speakers that Spain.  According to the U.S. Census Office, by 2050 there will be one hundred and thirty-eight (138) million Spanish speaking people in the U.S.  This would make our country the largest Spanish-speaking country on the planet.

Spanish is not the only language you and your employees may need to understand when doing business.  In the U.S., about sixty-five (65) million residents speak a language other than English. Forty (40%) percent of those are limited or have no English proficiency.  This to me is very striking.  From this, we must ask, how many of us speak ONLY English? 

In 1978 I worked for a company that designed and manufactured water heaters, both residential and commercial.  We had recently secured a customer located in the Netherlands that was very interested in our commercial product.  That new customer required our product to meet the standards of the Dutch Gas Institute in Apeldoorn, Holland.  I was in charge of the engineering effort at that company and as such was designated to fly to Apeldoorn and work the product through the testing and approval process.  The staff at the Gas Institute were extremely helpful during my three-week visit and did everything possible to make my stay successful.  While there, I met the receptionist for the Institute and signed in and out with her every day.  She not only spoke great English, but five other languages as well.  I was amazed at her language abilities.  One other thing I discovered, she was not paid enough by the Institute to afford an automobile.  She road a bicycle to and from work.  Imagine being able to speak fluently in six languages and not be able to own a car.  It seems that’s not so uncommon in western Europe because most people are multi-lingual.

I really never understood why Americans are not embarrassed about their considerable lack of language skills.  In my opinion, and it is my opinion, we sometimes come off to people in other countries as being arrogant.  We cannot be bothered to learn another language.  QUESTION:  Could this great lack of language skills be costing us from an economic standpoint?   According to a fairly new study from the American Council on Teaching of Foreign Languages, twenty-two percent (22%) of manufacturing companies reported they could not pursue or lost business due to language barriers.

The demand for language skills is greater than it has ever been and that gap seems to be gradually widening.  In order for that gap to lessen, we are going to have to address several foundational issues relative to teaching languages.  So, whose job is it to teach languages?  I know for a fact that it is much easier to learn a second or even third language when you are in grammar school, middle school or even high school as opposed to learning languages as an adult.  Been there, done that, got the “T” shirt. Right now, fewer than twenty percent (20%) of students in middle and high school are learning a second language.  In my opinion, languages should and MUST be required for graduation.

Why don’t we make foreign languages a strategic focus throughout the recruitment process and in doing so, we will find that more and more high school students and college graduates will pay attention to the need.   If hiring is dependent upon language skills, we will find more students getting on board at an earlier stage in their education.  Next, train talented candidates and employees who lack the required skills to improve their proficiency.  It seems to me that companies, specifically multi-national companies, must identify and cultivate a pipeline of multilingual talent.  Partner with colleges and universities and trade schools to offer internships and job opportunities for qualified students and recent graduates with the linguistic and global competencies your organization needs and requires.  

While being able to speak another language is essential to the current economic reality, the overriding benefit is that it allows us to gain insight into other cultures with a side effect—we become a better person.  Just a thought. 


Information for this post was taken from a blog by HANNAH BLEAU

31 Mar 2020.

Just about every country in the world is in a tough place right now.   The chart below will give you some idea as to where we are relative to the number of deaths by country. This is as of 31 March 2020.

Not a pretty picture at all.

When it comes to the arrival of the coronavirus, not all states are facing the same timeline. Some states, like New York and Louisiana, have quickly become epicenters of the virus in the United States and, as a result, will reach a resource-peak-weeks sooner than states like Kentucky and Missouri, which are not expected to reach their highest demand until the second week of May. The various projections, based on peak hospital resource demand caused by the virus, could explain why some governors are taking more aggressive, imminent actions in their response to the pandemic.  Information is fed into projection models to estimate specific time lines.  Please keep in mind, these projections can certainly change depending upon the number of people in each being tested.  Right now, more test kits are becoming available but we are far from completing all of the tests necessary when an individual feels he or she has symptoms.

We have a neighbor two doors down whose son had symptoms, spent two weeks and four hospital visits before being tested and an additional three weeks before he was determined to have negative results.  It’s better, as a matter of fact, it gets better every week but we are far from testing those needing to find out.  At this time, there are test kits available to medical practitioners that can give results within two or three hours.

PROJECTIONS BY STATE:

Here are the projected peaks for all 50 states, plus D.C., per the IHME model. The model takes into consideration the number of beds needed, as well as ventilators.

New York, for example, is expected to hit its resource peak April 9. The current model, at the time of this publication, estimates a bed shortage of 60,610 and 9,055 ventilators needed. A state like Kentucky, however, is not expected to reach its peak until May 12. It shows the state having a surplus of beds and 288 ventilators needed.

The model you will see below shows April 14 as the peak for the United States as a whole. However, it notes that the projections are contingent on the continuation of “strong social distancing measures and other protective measures.”  In other words, stay inside or at least maintain a six foot (6’) separation between yourself and someone else.  Wash your hands. Shower at least once per day.  Contrary to what you hear, when you feel you have to go out, i.e. grocery store, pharmacy, doctor’s office, etc wear a protective mask. Wash your clothes after wearing and wear only one “outfit” per day then wash. 

President Trump officially extended the “Slow the Spread” coronavirus guidelines to April 30 during a press conference over the weekend.  PLEASE NOTE:  THIS MAY NOT BE ENOUGH TIME.

Here is the resource peak for each state. Resource details can be found here:

CONCLUSION:  Here is the tragedy:   The Total COVID-19 deaths projected to August 4, 2020 in United States of America is 83,967.  Yogie was correct:  “It ain’t over till it’s over.  PLEASE STAY HEALTHY.  Do what you have to do to stay healthy.


For the past several years I have been a mentor for a young man from Nashville, Tennessee. I signed up for this task through the organization “We Teach Science”.  It’s an excellent service provided by that group of teaching professionals.  Well, my mentee decided to attend the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga as an entering freshman this year.  He is studying Civil Engineering.  Due to the COVID-19 virus, the entire UT system has decided that all students will work online for the remainder of the year.  Graduation will be held online and not in person.  I have no idea as to how this will work but there will be an attempt.

When I called this past Monday to talk to my mentee, I was told that he is packing up; leaving his dorm room and heading back to Nashville to work online.  I had no idea the boarding students would be required to leave campus but it is perfectly logical since students do congregate, work together and socialize everyday-all day.  The advent of the digital age allows everyone to do that with great ease.  You have to have equipment and software but all colleges and universities have that established.   The days of standing in endless lines signing up for your courses is long over.  It’s all done online now. 

The following article is from the USA Today web site.  I’m quoting this in its entirety.

“In the span of roughly two weeks, the American higher education system has transformed. Its future is increasingly uncertain. 

Most classes are now being held online, often for the rest of the semester. Dorms are emptying across the country. Some universities are even postponing or canceling graduation ceremonies scheduled months out. This is all the more surprising given most universities have a reputation for being reticent to change, especially in a short amount of time.

The coronavirus has changed all that. As of Thursday evening, the number of U.S. cases stood at more than 14,200, with 205 deaths

Colleges have tried to react quickly to enact measures that would help to stop the virus’ spread. On America’s campuses, professors and students, many of them international, work in close proximity for long periods of time. Dorm rooms are often shared between multiple individuals, making social distancing next to impossible.

All of those changes could threaten colleges’ existence. Parents and students are demanding refunds for shortened semesters in the dorm. The value and quality of an elite college education is under scrutiny as universities pivot to makeshift online classes.  And its unclear how students will view colleges once the crisis is over and they’re welcomed back on campuses. “

About 2,642,158 students – twelve and one-half (12.5%) percent of all college students – took online courses exclusively, and the other thirteen-point three (13.3%) percent of students combines online studies with traditional courses.  These statistics show that online studies are definitely gaining in popularity.  In other words, they are here to stay. 

If you want to see just what is available and what learning institutions offer online courses, go to the web site “Comprehensive List of All Accredited Online Schools”.  I was amazed at the number of schools providing this great service.  Basically, if a university doesn’t do it now, they will miss out completely in future months and years.  CORVID-19 is accelerating that occurrence greatly.

Now, most of the schools and universities are fully accredited institutions that have been around years and years.  They are not the “Johnny-come-lately” types that take your money and provide a diploma for just signing up.  The course work is real.  Let’s take a look at several.

The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga has spent millions of dollars over the past ten (10) years to attract students and compete with other universities.  New library, new dorm room building, new student center, new medical facilities, new athletic facility, etc.  My mentee’s dorm room looks like something you would find in a Hilton Hotel.  He has three dorm mates, all with their own rooms.  A kitchen. A common area. His own bathroom.  Back in the dark ages when I went to school, I had a room mate and common bath facilities down the hall.  Life has changed and probably for the better.  At any rate, the common thread for administrators has been the necessity of providing all of the facilities and even amenities a student needs or feels he or she needs.

There are some courses that cannot be taught online.  All courses that require labs.  Students in pre-med or medical schools where the subject matter must be or should be presented by an instructor.  I have questions about the accessibility of instructors from a question and answer standpoint.  In-class instruction gives you immediate access whereas online not always does.  In the future, and as time go by, these questions and difficulties will be worked out.

CONCLUSIONS:  COVID-19 is only accelerating the online trend.  I do suspect the future will allow most students to take online courses which will somewhat obsolete certain facilities now available to students.  This should bring down the cost of education and hopefully lessen the huge student loan situation that now exists.  Over a trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) in student loans are now outstanding.  At some point, that bubble with burst.

SKILLS GAP

February 26, 2020


If you read literature regarding the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics), you know that the United States has a definite “skills gap”.  The skills gap refers to the difference between skills required for a job and the skills an employee actually possesses. Because of the skills gap, employee might not be able to perform the complete job.  According to the Progressive Policy Institute, “Those who have never worked in the private sector might be forgiven for being skeptical about the existence of a skills shortage. But employers know that America has a significant skills gap – one that is growing with each passing month. And you won’t find many skill gap skeptics among underemployed workers, particularly Millennials.

 America’s economy has digitized over the past decade and our legacy infrastructure – postsecondary education institutions and workforce development boards – have not come close to keeping up. Moreover, the digitization of the economy has also changed hiring practices, with real implications for our workforce.”

 There can be no question that American employers have a record number of unfilled jobs. For the past year, the number has hovered around seven (7) million.  As of early January 2019, the number reported by the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) was six point nine (6.9) million.  When you think about it, this is a huge number—HUGE.   If we take a look at possible causes, we see the following:

  • THE DIGITAL SKILLS GAP— The World Economic Forum found only twenty-seven (27%) percent of small companies and twenty-nine (29%) percent of large companies believe they have the digital talent they require. Three quarters of Business Roundtable CEOs say they can’t find workers to fill jobs in STEM-related fields.  Deloitte in the United Kingdom has found that only twenty-five (25%) percent of “digital leaders” believe their workforce is sufficiently skilled to execute their digital strategy. Another survey found eighty (80% percent of executives highly concerned about a digital skills gap. And for the first time in recent memory, in May, August, and September 2018, the TechServe Alliance, the national trade association of technology staffing and services companies, reported no tech job growth in the U.S. According to TechServe Alliance CEO Mark Roberts, “this is totally a supply side phenomenon. There are simply not enough qualified workers to meet demand.”
  • THE SOFT-SKILLS GAP— Behind digital skills, as evidenced by job descriptions, employers care a great deal about a second set of skills: soft skills like teamwork, communication, organization, creativity, adaptability, and punctuality. Employers want workers who will show up on time and focus on serving customers rather than staring at their phones. They need employees who are able to get along with colleagues, and take direction from supervisors – a particular challenge for headstrong Millennials. But soft skills aren’t screened at the top of the hiring funnel. Employers aren’t likely to list “willingness to take direction” or “humility” as skills in job descriptions. And the soft skills that are listed aren’t readily assessable from résumés. So soft skills are evaluated further down the hiring funnel, via interviews – and long after the initial screen (primarily on digital skills) has weeded out many candidates with strong soft skills. It’s no wonder employers don’t think candidates’ soft skills are up to snuff. In a LinkedIn study of hiring managers, fifty-nine (59%) percent said soft skills were difficult to find and this skill gap was limiting their productivity. A 2015 Wall Street Journal survey of nine hundred executives found that eighty-nine (89%) percent have a very or somewhat difficult time finding candidates with the requisite soft skills. One reason for the soft skills gap is that Millennials (and now Generation Z) have less exposure to paid work than prior generations. When older Americans were in high school, even if they weren’t working during the school years, they probably took summer jobs. Some worked in restaurants or painted houses, others mowed lawns or scooped ice cream. But in the summer of 2017, only forty-three (43% percent of 16-19-year-olds were working or seeking work – down from nearly seventy (70%) percent a generation ago. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecasts teen workforce participation will drop below twenty-seven (27% percent by 2024.

SOLUTIONS:  There are solutions or ideas about solutions to this demanding and very important problem.  Some of these are given with the graphic shown below.

  • Learning institutions and curriculum development
  • Apprenticeship programs
  • Assisting educational institutions with classroom instruction.

If we look at the graduate skills gap, we see how very important companies and other institutions regard the skills gap.  It will be a continuing problem until our country comes to its senses and addresses this critical problem.


My last post, “ENGINEERING SALARIES KEEP GROWING”, gave the starting salaries for various engineering disciplines.  Well, engineering is one profession in which specialized training is absolutely necessary, at least in my opinion.  In other words, you have to go to school.  You have to be instructed.  Now please do not get me wrong, on the job training or internship is great to have and demonstrates the real world to entry-level engineers.  Engineering student on coop programs have realized that for years.   The profession today is extremely complex due to the digital age, 5 G, IIoT, AI, RFID, computer simulation, etc.  I could go on and on but will not.  With that being the case, let us now take a look at those universities that provide a graduate with the best starting salary.  Here we go.

NUMBER 20:  Kettering University

Early Career Salary   $71,000

Mid-Career Salary     $130,900

Kettering University (formerly General Motors Institute of Technology and GMI Engineering and Management Institute) is a nationally-ranked STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and Business university in Flint, Michigan and a national leader in combining a rigorous academic environment. (Image source: Kettering University)

NUMBER 19: The United States Coast Guard Academy

 Early Career Salary   $71,900

Mid-Career Salary     $134,000

The United States Coast Guard Academy (USCGA) is the service academy of the United States Coast Guard, founded in 1876 and located in New London, Connecticut. It is the smallest of the five federal service academies and provides education to future Coast Guard officers. (Image source: US Coast Guard Academy)

NUMBER 18: The University of California, San Diego

 Early Career Salary   $65,100

Mid-Career Salary     $135,500

The University of California, San Diego is a public research university located in the La Jolla neighborhood of San Diego, California, in the United States. The university occupies 2,141 acres near the coast of the Pacific Ocean with the main campus resting on approximately 1,152 acres. (Image source: University of California – San Diego)

NUMBER 17:  Clarkson University

Early Career Salary   $67,900

Mid-Career Salary     $137,500

Clarkson University is a private research university with its main campus located in Potsdam, New York, and additional graduate program and research facilities in New York State’s Capital Region and Beacon, N.Y. It was founded in 1896 and has an enrollment of about 4,300 students. (Image source: Clarkson University)

NUMBER 16: Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art

Early Career Salary   $71,600

Mid-Career Salary     $138,600

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, commonly known as Cooper Union or The Cooper Union and informally referred to, especially during the 19th century, as “the Cooper Institute”, is a private college at Cooper Square on the border of the East Village neighborhood of Manhattan, NY. (Image source: Cooper Union)

NUMBER 15:  Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute 

Early Career Salary $72,200

Mid-Career Salary $138,600

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, or RPI, is a private research university and space-grant institution located in Troy, New York, with two additional campuses in Hartford and Groton, Connecticut. The Institute was established in 1824 by Stephen van Rensselaer and Amos Eaton. (Image source: Rensselaer Polytechnic)

NUMBER 14:  Georgia Institute of Technology

Early Career Salary   $73,700

Mid-Career Salary     $138,700

The Georgia Institute of Technology (commonly called Georgia Tech, Tech, and GT) is a public research university in Atlanta, Georgia, in the United States. It is a part of the University System of Georgia and has satellite campuses in Savannah, Georgia; Metz, France; Athlone, Ireland; Shanghai, China and other locations. (Image source: Georgia Tech)

NUMBER 13: Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology 

Early Career Salary   $76,200

Mid-Career Salary     $138,800

Rose–Hulman Institute of Technology (abbreviated RHIT), formerly Rose Polytechnic Institute, is a small private college specializing in teaching engineering, mathematics and science. Its 1,300-acre (2.0 sq mi; 526.1 ha) campus is located in Terre Haute, Indiana. (Image source: Rose-Hulman)

NUMBER 12:  Carnegie Mellon University

Early Career Salary   $78,300

Mid-Career Salary     $141,000

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) is a private nonprofit research university based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Founded in 1900 by Andrew Carnegie as the Carnegie Technical Schools, the university became the Carnegie Institute of Technology in 1912 and began granting four-year degrees. (Image source: Carnegie Mellon University)

NUMBER 11:  Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Early Career Salary   $75,200

Mid-Career Salary     $142,100

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) is a private research university in Worcester, Massachusetts, focusing on the instruction and research of technical arts and applied sciences. Founded in 1865 in Worcester, WPI was one of the United States’ first engineering and technology universities. (Image source: Worcester Polytechnic)

NUMBER 10: US Merchant Marine Academy

Early Career Salary   $82,900

Mid-Career Salary     $143,500

The United States Merchant Marine Academy (also known as USMMA or Kings Point), one of the five United States service academies, is located in Kings Point, New York. It is charged with training officers for the United States Merchant Marine, branches of the military, and the transportation industry. (Image source: US Merchant Marine Academy)

NUMBER 9: Colorado School of Mines

Early Career Salary   $76,200

Mid-Career Salary     $143,600

Colorado School of Mines, also referred to as “Mines”, is a public teaching and research university in Golden, Colorado, devoted to engineering and applied science, with special expertise in the development and stewardship of the Earth’s natural resources. (Image source: Colorado School of Mines)

NUMBER 8: Lehigh University

Early Career Salary   $70,500

Mid-Career Salary     $143,700

Lehigh University is an American private research university in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. It was established in 1865 by businessman Asa Packer. Its undergraduate programs have been coeducational since the 1971–72 academic year. As of 2014, the university had 4,904 undergraduate students and 2,165 graduate students. (Image source: Lehigh University)

NUMBER 7:  Stevens Institute of Technology

Early Career Salary   $76,200

Mid-Career Salary     $145,800

Stevens Institute of Technology (SIT) is a private, coeducational research university located in Hoboken, New Jersey. The university also has a satellite location in Washington, D.C. Incorporated in 1870, it is one of the oldest technological universities in the United States. (Image source: Stevens Institute of Technology)

NUMBER 6:  Webb Institute

Early Career Salary   $80,900

Mid-Career Salary     $145,800

Webb Institute is a private undergraduate engineering college in Glen Cove, New York on Long Island. Each graduate of Webb Institute earns a Bachelor of Science degree in naval architecture and marine engineering. Successful candidates for admission receive full tuition for four years. (Image source: Webb Institute)

NUMBER 5:  California Institute of Technology

Early Career Salary   $89,900

Mid-Career Salary     $156,900

The California Institute of Technology (abbreviated Caltech) is a private doctorate-granting research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Known for its strength in natural science and engineering, Caltech is often ranked as one of the world’s top-ten universities. (Image source: Caltech)

NUMBER 4:   US Naval Academy

Early Career Salary   $85,000

Mid-Career Salary     $158,800

The United States Naval Academy (also known as USNA, Annapolis, or simply Navy) is a four-year coeducational federal service academy adjacent to Annapolis, Maryland. Established on 10 October 1845, under Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft. (Image source: US Naval Academy)

NUMBER 3: Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Early Career Salary $89,900

Mid-Career Salary $159,400

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States. Founded in 1861 in response to the increasing industrialization of the United States, MIT adopted a European polytechnic university model and stressed laboratory instruction. (Image source: Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

NUMBER 2:  Stanford University

Early Career Salary   $83,500

Mid-Career Salary     $161,400

Stanford University (officially Leland Stanford Junior University, colloquially the Farm) is a private research university in Stanford, California. Stanford is known for its academic strength, wealth, proximity to Silicon Valley, and ranking as one of the world’s top universities. (Image source: Stanford)

NUMBER 1:   Harvey Mudd College

Early Career Salary   $90,700

Mid-Career Salary     $161,800

Harvey Mudd College (HMC) is a private residential undergraduate science and engineering college in Claremont, California. It is one of the institutions of the contiguous Claremont Colleges which share adjoining campus grounds. (Image source: Harvey Mudd College)

OREGON COASTLINE

October 19, 2019


The Oregon Coast Trail winds through smooth sandy shore, seaside cliffs, and Sitka spruce forests for almost four hundred (400) miles. From the mouth of the Columbia River to the California state line, this work in progress samples state parks, national forests, public beaches, and small coastal towns. Half the time there’s no trail at all, as the route traverses open sand shoreline. Get to know the lay of the land and the ways of the locals on this unconventional Oregon trek. 

Officially, the Oregon Coast Trail is three hundred and eighty-two (382) miles long, but the actual distance varies depending on how you choose to hike it. If you ferry across major bays and rivers, you can shave off about fifty (50) miles, mostly along road shoulders.

Several very interesting facts about the coast are as follows:

• Oregon offers shoppers the benefit of NO SALES TAX

 • Seventy-nine (79) State Parks – Ranging in size from large parks with camping, hiking trails, and beaches to small waysides with picnic tables and great views

 • Eleven (11) Lighthouses – Nine (9) are Historic Lighthouses, seven (7) of which are open to the public. The two (2) remaining lighthouses are private aids to navigation

• Eleven (11) Conde B. McCullough-designed Bridges – recently placed on the National Register of Historic Places

 • Cranberries – a major agricultural crop in the Bandon and Port Orford areas.  (Thought this was fascinating.)

OK, let’s now take the very brief pictorial trip my wife and I took several days ago.

You will get an idea as to the very rugged coast line from the picture below.  Steep cliffs, rugged shore line and driftwood-laden beaches.

In some areas along the coast the beaches are very wide and welcoming.  This is ideal for surfers and the occasional swimmer.

The hills to the east of the beaches are rarely higher than one thousand (1000) feet but due to the cliffs along the beach they appear to be much higher.

Notice the trees and foliage growing from the edge of the sandy beach to the top of the hills.  The trees are for the most part spruce or fir trees.

The digital below is taken from one of the seventy-nine (79) state parks along the way from north to south.  We are early risers so we got to the part about 0830 in the morning just as the fog was beginning to dissipate.

As mentioned earlier, there are eleven (11) lighthouses along the coast line.  Most are not operational but their beauty is obvious, especially against an October sky.

Do you like fish—really fresh caught this morning fish?  The coast of Oregon is the place to visit.  There are many, many boat docks along the coast.  We arrived at the dock shown below approximately noon one day to discover they had been to sea early in the morning, returned, disposed of their catch and were done for the day.  We also discovered the fish we were eating at lunch had been caught that very same morning. 

If you are looking for a place to visit with your family, I can definitely recommend the coast of Oregon.  Marvelous trip.  Think about it.

OH, THE PLACES WE WILL GO

October 17, 2019


If you have been reading my posts you know my wife and I recently traveled to Oregon.  Beautiful state!  One of the cities we visited was at the most northern end of the Willamette Valley, McMinnville. 

The map above will give you some idea as to where McMinnville is located.  If you look closely, you can see it is just southeast of Portland.  (I know this is difficult to see so just trust me on this one.)  You never know what you will find when you travel to a place you have never been before but this little city was a great and pleasant surprise. 

Their “official” web site indicates the following:

“McMinnville, Oregon is a warmhearted city of about 33,000 residents located in the heart of Oregon wine country, not too close — or too far– from the bustle of Oregon’s largest cities, Portland and Salem. Our Willamette Valley town is the seat of Yamhill County and officially became a city in 1882. Fast forward to today, McMinnville is a hub for those who appreciate the laid-back style of a small town with great taste. With over 220 wineries to sip at and an overwhelming amount of farm-to-table and artisan dining experiences to be had, you’ll find yourself having little time left to discover the rest of McMinnville’s attractions and charm.  The historic downtown area is the heart of the city and is “Oregon’s Favorite Main Street,” also known as Third Street. Downtown McMinnville is a stroll worthy stop with its tree-lined streets anchored by quaint boutiques, cool coffeehouses, and kitschy antiquaries punctuated with wine tasting rooms, craft breweries and bars, and a tasty mix of award-winning restaurants. Voted among the best main streets in America, the downtown core hosts a variety of events and community celebrations from the annual UFO Festival and Turkey Rama to weekly farmer’s markets. “

I have left the hyperlinks in their web site so you may gain additional information.  Given below is what we first saw when we entered the hamlet.

A little overcast when we got there, nevertheless, a beautiful little town.  Since McMinnville is somewhat of a tourist town, there were many really good restaurants waiting to be explored.  One such was La Rambla.  It was great and so great we ate there twice during our three-day visit.  Let’s take a look.

La Rambla:

I would invite you to take a look at their menu.  Hyperlink:  https://laramblaonthird.com/menu/. I won’t print out the entire menu but trust me, it’s worth taking a look.

The first thing you see when you walk in is the bar.

Well stocked with most of the wine produced in the Valley as well as the “hard stuff”.  The entire restaurant was furnished with oak, teak, and mahogany with craftsmanship you would find in historic residences.  It took time to look at the furnishings and wall hangings so we were there about thirty minutes after our meal was served and consumed.  The picture below shows a dining room that accommodates small parties. 

We had the paella and it was simply MARVELOUS.  The dish is shown below.  Our order served two people but a larger order, three or four. 

The following note is given on the menu so you will know you have a slight wait before you can sample the wonderful flavors.

It did take every bit of forty-five minutes but the wait was definitely worth it.  For those of you who need to be refreshed as to the origins of paella:

Paella (Valencian pronunciation: [paˈeʎa]; Spanish: [paˈeʎa]) is a Valencian rice dish that has ancient roots, but its modern form traces origins in the mid-19th century in the area around the Albufera lagoon on the east coast of Spain adjacent to the city of Valencia.  It originated in the fields of a region called Valencia on the eastern coast of Spain. Today paella is made in every region of Spain; using just about any ingredient that goes well with rice.

The dish Paella is said to be a perfect union between two cultures from Spain, the Romans, for the pan and the Arab, that brought rice.

There is an old story of how the Moorish kings’ servants created rice dishes by mixing the left-overs from royal banquets in large pots to take home. It is said by some that that word paella originates from the Arab word “baqiyah” meaning left-overs. The term Paella actually refers to the pan that it is cooked in. All the way back to the ancient Sanskrit language the term Pa means …to drink, and the Roman culture from the Latin made words like Patera, Patina, Patella which could mean a container to drink, or perform other culinary functions.

It would seem that paella might be a natural dish, since rice is grown in Spain, and all meats, and seafood in some regions are plentiful.  Since there are many workers in the fields, cooking it over an open fire also would be the most practical. Spain is not known for forests and lots of timber, so the small available twigs and branches from pruning that are green gave a quick hot fire instead of a slow burning one from logs.


So, the size of the pan grew instead of the depth, so you could get a hot fire a maximum evaporation.

The pan, shown above, is characterized by being round with a flat bottom.
The pan can be anywhere from a LP record 12 inches in diameter to several feet. The one thing that doesn’t change is the height. It is about first joint in the thumb deep as the Spanish would say, so that the rice has maximum contact with the bottom of the pan.  It evolved, starting with a rounded bottom, designed to hang over a fire. It is thought that as soon as some sort of grill or flat top burner was invented that the pans started to become flatter at the bottom.

Our paella was served in the pan it was cooked in and it was HOT with a capital “H”.  I mean we cooled each bit when we started to keep from visiting the local ER.  Our entire meal took well over an hour to eat but that was just fine.  Paella, wine, great bread, great atmosphere, what else could  you want on a vacation?


I think EVERY city, town, municipality, etc. has an obligation to provide its citizens with “stuff to do”.  A reason to go downtown whether that reason be dining, a waterfront event or a specific festival.  Roaming the streets is really not that interesting unless that “roaming” is associated with an event.  The movers and shakers in Chattanooga, Tennessee recognize that fact and constantly look for events to attract people to the downtown area.  Well, we have a new one.

Take a look at this news release:

“What separates the inaugural Chattanooga MotorCar Festival from other car shows that roll through Chattanooga?

Chattanooga MotorCar Festival is the only car event to offer a Concourse, a Rallye and time trials on a closed circuit — not to mention multiple family activities.

It all takes place in downtown Chattanooga’s West Village and on the riverfront when the first MotorCar Festival, presented by DeFoor Brothers and sponsored by Volkswagen of America, takes place Friday-Saturday, Oct. 11-12.

Hundreds of exotic, significant, one-of-a-kind cars — some from as far back as the early 1900s — are rolling into town Thursday to compete in the time trials and/or be shown in the Concours on the grounds of the Westin Hotel.

Of the 120 cars accepted for the Concourse, expect to see a 1928 Isotta Fraschini 8A Super Sprinto, a 1966 McLaren M1B Can-Am race car, a rare 1952 Porsche 356A 1500 Super America Roadster and Wayne Carini’s Moal Speedway Special.”

IF YOU GO:

* What: Chattanooga MotorCar Festival

* Where: West Village and Riverfront Parkway

* When: 8 a.m.-9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11; 8 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12

* Admission: $35 one-day pass, $55 two-day pass, $145 two-day VIP Package, ages 15 and younger are free but their admission to events will match the ticket level of their accompanying adult

* For more information: https://www.chattanoogamotorcar.com

My wife and I did go but preceded that event with a wonderful dinner at La Paloma.  If you love Italian and Spanish food, if you love tapas, if you love good wine—go to La Paloma.

Given below are several digital photographs from that “street scene”.

For the event, the streets around West Village and Riverfront Parkway were blocked off to through traffic.  Only foot-traffic was tolerated. This, of course, allowed participants to walk freely to the stage, the restaurants and other venues within the area. 

You can get an idea of the various entities within the West Village from the street signs above.  This is representative of a very few places you can go from the center point of the area.

The band was truly great and local. Priacilla and Little Ricky.  I have no idea as to how they got their name but they were really good and played music we all knew and could sing to if nuged just a little.  When we sat down at La Paloma they were playing Margueritaville. No rap, no heavy metal, etc. just good music.

You really need to visit Chattanooga, Tennessee.  The event above is only a small portion of what’s available.  Great place to live and visit.

Willamette Damn It

October 12, 2019


This past week my wife and I visited the Willamette Valley in the state of Oregon.  (By the way, it’s Will-am-met or as the locals say—Willamette Damn It.)  We had never been to Oregon but by the end of the very first day we knew we had selected one of the most beautiful states in the U.S for our visit.  The time of year was excellent also.  Weather was beautiful; mid-sixties, clear blue skies, fluffy white clouds.  You get the picture.

 Let’s do some homework first then we will take a pictorial trip into the Willamette Valley wine country.  The map you see below is courtesy of the Willamette Valley Wine Association and indicates the length and width of the wine-growing area within the valley itself.

MAP OF VALLEY AND GEOGRAPHY

The Willamette Valley is a one hundred and fifty (150) -mile long valley in Oregon. A state, as you know, located in the Pacific Northwest. The Willamette River flows the entire length of the valley, and is surrounded by mountains on three sides – the Cascade Range to the east, the Oregon Coast Range to the west, and the Calapooya Mountains to the south.  The geography; i.e. mountains protecting the valley below, etc. is the main reason wine-growing is possible and plentiful.  We were told the winds blowing west to east from the coast provide much-needed moisture during dryer seasons. 

The valley is synonymous with the cultural and political heart of Oregon, and is home to approximately seventy (70%) percent of its populationincluding the six largest cities in the state: Portland, Eugene, Salem, Gresham, Hillsboro and Beaverton.   Eight of Oregon’s top ten most populated cities, and sixteen (16) of its top twenty (20) – are located in the Willamette Valley.

The valley’s numerous waterways, particularly the Willamette River, are vital to the economy of Oregon, as they continuously deposit highly fertile alluvial soils across its broad, flat plain. From observation, we noticed the soil being as black as pitch indicating a very desirable condition for growing just about anything.   A massively productive agricultural area, the valley was widely publicized in the 1820s as a “promised land of flowing milk and honey”. Throughout the 19th century it was the destination of choice for the oxen-drawn wagon-trains of emigrants who made the perilous journey along the Oregon Trail.

Today the valley is often considered synonymous with “Oregon Wine Country”, as it contains more than nineteen thousand (19,000) acres of vineyards and over five hundred wineries.  The climate of the Willamette Valley is Mediterranean with oceanic features. This climate is characterized by very dry and mostly cloudless summers, ranging from warm to occasionally very hot, followed by cool, rainy, and consistently cloudy winters. The precipitation pattern is distinctly Mediterranean, with little to no rainfall occurring during the summer months and over half of annual precipitation falling between November and February.  In other words, ideal for agriculture including wine-growing.  We also noticed the acre after acre of hazelnut trees. 

PICTORIAL TOUR:

Now that we know a little bit about the geography and location, let’s take a digital tour of the valley, the vineyards, and a few of the wineries.  As mentioned, there are over five hundred so obviously we only toured those being more prominent and having wine-tasting facilities.  Apparently, there is a considerable difference between the grapes, consequently the wine, grown in the valley as opposed to the hills surrounding the valley.  You will notice the rolling countryside and the acres of vines planted.  In the higher elevations, it was harvest time.  In the valley, the harvest had already been completed. When I talk about hills, the elevations are generally under one thousand feet but that certainly does make a difference in the quality and type of grapes grown. 

 One issue this year was the number of pickers available for harvest.  They are paid by the bucket which I thought was very interesting although I do not know how else that could be done.  In every case, the harvesting was accomplished by hand and no automatic equipment was used.  The picking is contracted using companies responsible for hiring temporary workers—mostly Hispanic.  When the harvest is completed, they move on to other areas of our country. 

The most beautiful vineyards were at elevation and not on the valley floor.  For this reason, most of the pictures I took are in the hills.  Let’s take a look.  You will notice the rolling countryside and neatly planted rows of vineyards.

COUNTRYSIDE:

There were some non-paved roads in the higher elevations requiring four-wheel drive.  This really surprised me but that’s just the way it is.  Notice the gently sloping elevation changes.  All of the vines are accessible even though the elevation changes.

The picture below is one of the most beautiful landscapes we came across.  I have no idea as to what flowers these were. 

As mentioned earlier, the harvest in the valley was complete but not in the hills.  You can see the grapes ready for picking and just hanging on the vines.

As you can see, the grapes are very accessible so a picker could move very quickly and fill a bucket in quick time.

WINERIES:

The wineries were absolutely striking in design and size.  I have no idea as to how much investment was necessary to bring about the overall facilities.  One thing that did surprise us was the recent construction of the largest wineries.  These facilities were not decades old but fairly new.  We are now going to look at three wineries that we thought were absolutely beautiful inside and out.  In each case, of course, we were introduced to the wine produced by these facilities.  Great tasting and fabulous.  On one case, the wine was so good we joined their wine club.  Let’s take a look.

One thing that was striking—the landscaping leading up to all of the facilities. Immaculate, well-planned and well-maintained.

The digital above shows the “wine store”. Please note, not only wine but “T” shirts and other clothing as well as cork-screws, wine containers, etc. 

The next three photos show a grotto area used for parties, dinners and wine tasting.  The construction was fascinating.  Notice the very careful placement of the individual stones lining the room.  All walls and ceiling were lined with these flat stones.

The second winery we visited was quite different in design from the first but spacious—very spacious.  The staff was planning a wedding reception during our brief visit so the place was buzzing with anticipation of the event.

Third and last winery I will show you is below.  This winery was started some years ago by immigrants from Iran.  When the Shaw was disposed they traveled to the United States to start a new life.  We met one of the owners and discussed with him the  history of their travels and how they found Oregon to settle.  Fascinating story. 

This is the tasting room below

The wall hanging shown below is an actual Persian carpet brought from Iran during their exit from that country.

PRODUCTION:

The object below is, believe it or not, a wine press from years ago.  This is how they used to do it.   How long would it take to press the grapes using that device?  The picture following the hand-cranked wine press shows the storage units and associated plumbing now used in modern-day wine making.  Big difference.

You can see wine making is big business in today’s world and it takes a huge investment in equipment and manpower to maintain the industry.

CONCLUSION:

I can definitely recommend to you a visit to Oregon and the Willamette Valley.  Marvelous time but be sure to check the weather and go during the proper season.

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