Last Thursday 21 Jan 2016 I learned how the rear view mirror was invented. That’s the unsophisticated but critical devise that hangs on the inside of your front windscreen so you can see what’s happening behind you when driving your car. It’s standard in every vehicle. It’s wasn’t always that way.
“Mind if I sit here?” Said the old man as I looked up from my breakfast. I was in the hotel lobby sitting at a table by myself eating and reading the complementary newspaper. I didn’t really want company but I could see all the other tables were full and he seemed like a nice person. I wasn’t going to say “No” but in about 2 seconds my attitude shifted to the positive; I welcomed him.
He immediately started a conversation in which I became an interested listener. His name was John and he was 80 years old but he looked younger than many 70 year olds. He was slender and wore an expensive looking pair of pants, fancy belt and a pressed shirt. He was mostly bald and spoke with a pleasant yet commanding voice.
John was an ex-Air Force pilot. He flew the C-141 cargo planes. Did that for 10 years – from 1960 until 1970. Then he got out and studied to be an optomitrist. While studying he flew planes in the Air National Guard. Then he opened an optometry practice where he barely made any money. His practice and income started to rocket when he opened up a few stores selling sunglasses. Now, he’s out of the optometry game but still has 9 or more stores selling sunglasses. He also told me about his property investing exploits. As I listened, I felt more and more like I was listening to a pro. He talked about selling apartment blocks on the Florida panhandle beach and walking away with millions. I told him I was a property investor and that’s why he discussed a few of his property deals. I’m glad he told me because I learned a few things.
But, my favorite part of the conversation was when he told me about how the rear view mirror was invented. He brought us onto the topic when he said, “Isn’t it crazy how things get invented? Things we take for granted now were invented by clever people; people looking to solve a problem. For instance, Do you know how the rear view mirror was invented?”
The flavor sandwich was invented sometime in the early 70’s by 3 teenage boys from a small town in southern New Hampshire. It happened very much by accident. They did not set out to invent one of the world’s most unique dishes. Instead, the idea for this specialty sandwich came from something their Dad told them. The boys jumped on the concept immediately and – BOOM – the first ever “Flavor Sandwich” was born.
How do I know so much about the origin of the flavor sandwich?
Because I was one of the inventors. My two brothers, Steve and Paul, were the other co-conspirators – I mean co-inventors. Steve and I are twins; we were maybe 13 or 14 at the time. Paul is a year and a half younger. So, at a pretty early age, we became inventors; innovators – food pioneers. We dared to go where no chef had gone before …
The F-111 is a General Dynamics fighter-bomber aircraft built in the early sixties.
Gus was keen to tell me the story. And, I was keen to listen. He was a great storyteller; his stories were interesting, entertaining and usually contained a lesson. He had a lot of down home mid-west wisdom.
Gus was one of the old timers. He been working at the lab for years. He was from Illinois and started his career as a Navy pilot flying Corsairs. Those are the famous World War II aircraft with the anhedral (bent downwards) wings. Gus told me why the wings were bent, “… had to bend em, otherwise the wheels wouldn’t reach the ground. Propeller was just too damn big.” And here I was thinking it had something to do with improving the aerodynamics. That’s why you talk to the old timers – you learn things.
Twenty five years ago were were just days away from the start of the First Gulf War. I was stationed in a remote Australian outback town called Woomera where the US Air Force operated a satellite tracking station. We were in the missile detection business. Our satellites could “see” the Iraq and Kuwait areas so when a SCUD missile launched, we reported it in real time to the war-fighters.
In May 2015 I published a book about my outback Gulf War experience. The book is called Yanks in the Outback: A story of Woomera, South Australia, the Joint Defense Facility Nurrungar (JDFN) and the First Gulf War and it’s available on amazon.com in both print and kindle formats. Here’s an excerpt from my book.
Desert Storm Begins: Air War
17 Jan 1991 Thursday
Crazy scene today on the ops floor. The war has begun.
The US is bombing the hell out of Iraq and Kuwait.
Just finished reading “Atlas Shrugged” by Ayn Rand; all 1000 plus pages! My feelings about the book may be summed up in one word – WOW! The book is loaded with adventure, creepy characters, heroes, villains, and some of the best descriptive writing I’ve ever encountered.
But, that’s not the reason it’s on my recommended “must read” book list. This is a must read because of its relevance; its relevance to what’s happening in the world today. The book was written back in 1957 but Ayn’s story about what happens to the world when the “looters” take over seems to be coming true. If you want to understand what you see going on around you today – to make sense of the apparent melt down in society and the economy – read this book.
Ayn wrote the book because she saw the downward trend of the United States; even back in the 40s and 50s. She was more perceptive to these trends than most Americans because, growing up in Russia, she saw and experienced – first hand – what happens when the “looters” take charge. She observed the same “looters” trends happening in the United States. She could see government regulation taking over. She could see laws put in place so politicians could “line their pockets.” She could see private companies going to Washington to ask for (pay for) “favors” and get them. She could see the people that don’t produce anything – add no value – start taking over; start giving the orders and redistributing the wealth. She could see the talented, prosperous, intelligent, hard working people treated like beasts of burden to produce more and more for the non-producers.
Her response to this dangerous path and injustice to the “producers” of the world was to write her epic book, “Altas Shrugged.”
If you want to understand why the present world of politics, business and economics seems so contrived, fake, rigged and unreal, I recommend you read this book.