Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Does Holding Down a Job and Paying Your Bills Mean You Sold Out Your Dream?

This morning's eNewsletter from AEON began with an excellent article by Thomas Maloney titled, The Creed of Compromise: Don’t throw in the day job to follow your dream. The subtitle elaborates the them: Join the bifurcattors who juggle work-for-pay and their work-for-love.

The article is directed toward every person who has ever wondered if they should quit their day job to follow their passion.

You know the issue. You have talent. Maybe you're an artist or writer, an actor or musician. You feel like you're selling yourself short by not going after your dream. Then again, you look at the numbers and you know you need the money to pay the bills.

Maloney's article is directed directly at people in this situation. In his case he's a writer, but it could be someone who wants to start his or her own business. Part of the article deals with the dilemma.

The problem has many facets. One of them has to do with what kind of employment path to take to pay the bills. "Some choose a job that corresponds with higher dreams," he writes. "Others work in a disparate field for the money so as to not contaminate their passion."

Maloney chose to work in at a hedge fund. I myself pursued a career that utilized my skills, landing a job as a writer and building on that to a career in advertising. For both Mahoney and myself it was a compromise, but one we accepted. We also each felt fortunate that we had jobs that were sufficient to take care of our needs. Not everyone is so fortunate, as he notes here.

"What’s certain is that not everyone has the opportunity to do a stint in a well-paid but mildly perplexing job, even if they wanted to. Many school-leavers and graduates face a choice between several uninspiring jobs that are all badly paid, and a passion that pays nothing at all."

Maloney's article explores all the facets of this issue, like a jeweler examining the faces of a gem from multiple angles. When it comes to the matter of moonlighting he writes that "moonlighting is undoubtedly an uncomfortable business. By dividing finite time and energy between two endeavors, bifurcators inevitably feel they aren’t doing either as well as they could."

Further on, he places another aspect of the matter on the table. Whichever path your pursue, the dream or the job, you can still end up experiencing regret.

Advocates of dream-following, of commitment and career leaps of faith, often say: ‘You’ll regret it if you don’t.’ They might be right about that (actually, they almost certainly are). But here’s the rub: regret is not the sole preserve of the cautious compromiser. A failure to compromise can also beget future unhappiness. Some of your sacrifices might come back to haunt you.

If you've ever wrestled with any aspect of this dilemma,  I recommend the full article here on Aeon.

* * * *
Last summer I attended an Op-Ed workshop with author Michael Fedo who was in Duluth for a book signing, a book that also addresses this very same topic: Don't Quite Your Day Job. A review of Fedo's book is at the end of my blog post Notes from an Op-Ed Writing Workshop.

Whatever you choose, choose to make a difference.

Monday, January 21, 2019

The "We Shall Overcome" Speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

There are all kinds of collectors in the world. Some people collect art. Others collect pedal cars. Still others collect baseball cards. In 2016 I learned that a graduate of one of our Duluth high schools, who made a small fortune in California real estate 50 or so years ago, collects manuscripts, which I wrote about here in a piece titled Treasures of the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum

Handwritten sheet from Dr King's speech at SMU.
This weekend I visited Karpeles in Duluth (there are a dozen such Karpeles museums in this country) and saw on display the original handwritten "We Shall Overcome" speech by Dr. King. It led me to go find and read it again in honor of the day, the man and the fight. Here are a few excerpts followed by a link to the complete speech, which he delivered in March of 1966 at Southern Methodist University.

'We have come a long, long way but we still have a long, long way to go.' --Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here are a few excerpts from this speech, which is essentially a summary of what seem to be self-evident truths. 

And I believe also that it is true that if we are to solve the problem ultimately, the white person must see the Negro as his brother. And he must treat him right because it is natural and because the Negro is his brother and not merely because the law says it. If we are to solve the problem ultimately, every person must rise to the majestic heights of being obedient to the unenforceable.

But after saying this I think we must see the other side and see the wrongness of the notion that legislation can’t help. It may be true that you can’t legislate integration but you can legislate desegregation. It may be true that morality can’t be legislated but behavior can be regulated. It may be that the law cannot make a man love me but it can restrain him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important also.

* * * *

My contention is that as we bring these things to the surface and deal with them, we must deal with them non-violently. And we need the support of all people of goodwill as we develop a non-violent assault on the evils of segregation and discrimination.

* * * *

And so if one is working for a just society, he should use just methods in bringing about that society.

And so the plea facing us today is to move on that additional distance that we have to go with understanding, with a concern for brotherhood, with the removal of all prejudices, with an understanding that all of God’s children are significant.

Read the full transcript of this speech:

* * * *

Key civil rights legislation of the 1960s.

The Civil Rights Act of 1960 (Pub.L. 86–449, 74 Stat. 89, enacted May 6, 1960) is a United States federal law that established federal inspection of local voter registration polls and introduced penalties for anyone who obstructed someone's attempt to register to vote. Signed into law by President Eisenhower.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin, is considered one of the crowning legislative achievements of the civil rights movement. Signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, aimed to overcome legal barriers at the state and local levels that prevented African Americans from exercising their right to vote as guaranteed under the 15th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

The Civil Rights Act of 1968 defines housing discrimination as the "refusal to sell or rent a dwelling to any person because of his race, color, religion, or national origin". Title VIII of this Act is commonly referred to as the Fair Housing Act of 1968.  Signed into law by President Johnson.

* * * * 
For further reading:
Read Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" speech which he delivered in August 1963. It opens with "Five score years ago" so as to echo the opening of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address while drawing attention to that significant event of 1863, The Emancipation Proclamation.
Here is the link:

Let's not forget the dream.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Jamie Ness Fund-Raiser: That's What Friends Are For

Philosopher Albert Camus once wrote a novel called The Fall. It was not about painting houses and falling off ladders.

My grandfather was painting his house once and the scaffolding fell. He landed on his heels and shattered both. Excruciating pain and six months in recovery.

I painted apartments for four years and did a measure of exterior work. Even though I do not consider myself afraid of heights, I did always respect them when up on ladders.

When I heard details of Jamie Ness' fall it caused my stomach to churn. If you read on you'll see details from his Go Fund Me page.

* * * *
Musician Jamie Ness, a lifelong Duluthian, has generously donated his time to support good causes over the years including performing at the Duluth Dylan Fest. I'm confident there will be a strong showing of support at Saturday's fund-raiser at The Rex at Fitger's. In fact, when I see the lineup of performers I am a little concerned about there being enough room for everyone.

What Happened: The Big Fall

October 3rd, after 20 years of working as a house painter, Jamie had a fall from the top of a twenty-foot ladder. As the feet of the ladder suddenly slid away from the wall, Jamie instinctively grabbed a large air vent suspended from the ceiling. A huge section of the vent came down with Jamie and the ladder.

As the EMTs were taking him to the ambulance, Jamie was worried about the cost of the ambulance ride, the damage to his client’s property and trying to give his helper instructions on how to clean up the paint and blood.

The impact of Jamie's face coming down onto the ladder from that height split his upper lip straight through. He had a broken maxilla (upper jaw bone) and teeth that were loose and shoved out of position. Facial surgeries will need to be done in stages because his bone is too unstable and requires grafts. So far Jamie has had two of his front teeth removed and his other teeth were wired together. In addition to many contusions, Jamie has multiple complex fractures in his foot and is on his second of three or more casts. He is getting around on crutches.

The Appeal

Jamie Ness with the band.
Please join Jamie's friends and family in support of his recovery from a traumatic ladder fall that resulted in nearly $30,000 of medical and dental bills. He has been unable to paint since the accident and he could use our help. A Pizza Buffet, Silent Auction, and Music are planned from 4-8 PM at the Rex at Fitger’s. Suggested donation is $20.

They now have nearly $12,000 of silent auction items up for grabs at the event, donated by local businesses and artists.

Here is the entertainment schedule:
4:30 PM - Kyle Ollah
5:30 PM - Ingeborg Von Agassiz
6:30 PM - Jerree Small
7:30 PM - And a special Duluth performance by Low

A portion of the show will include live painting (art) by fellow house painter and friend Dusty Keliin.

There will also be a pizza buffet from 4-6:30 PM donated by Valentini's Vicino Lago, Pizza Lucé, Vintage Italian Pizza, V.I.P, Pizza Man Duluth, Theotherplace, and Do North Pizzeria & Pub, Hermantown.

If you can't be there January 26th you may Donate Today.

Who – Jamie Ness, longtime local musician and self-employed painter.

What – Medical Relief Party

When – Saturday, January 26 from 4:00-8:00 PM

Where – The Rex Bar at Fitger’s

Why - As a result of the fall he has nearly $30,000 in medical and dental bills. He has been unable to paint since the accident and could use our help.

* * * *
Among the donations from local businesses and artists there are hotel stays, A Loll Adirondack Chair, restaurant gift cards, pottery, books by local authors and poets, an array of gift baskets and certificates, and much more.

One more time: https://www.gofundme.com/7zukhb-jamie-fund

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Sunday Night's Blood Moon, Plus More Buddy Holly Memories and Insights

Yes Bobby and I went to the Armory together to see Buddy Holly. I talk about it in my not yet released book in the chapter called “Oh Boy”--Louis Kemp

On January 3, 1959 Alaska became the 49th state to enter the Union. Alaska's was the first new star added to the flag in 47 years.

One month later, on February 3, the music world lost three stars when a chartered plane transporting musicians Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and The Big Bopper crashed near Clear Lake, Iowa, killing all three along with their young pilot Roger Peterson.

This year will be the 60th anniversary of that event, and with each passing year new stories emerge. I reached out to Mike Tefft, a friend and long time resident of Clear Lake who shared with me some of his insights about the crash.

Locally, Jerry Dwyer, owner of the charter service out of Mason City airport (Mason City named because of FFA funding and their larger population base, although the airport is just a couple of miles from the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake) defended the pilot's ability to his dying day, literally. Jerry was working on an exposé-type book about the flight and crash that included some inside analysis of possible violence during the flight that included Buddy Holly's pistol that had two empty chambers.

Tefft states that this story is rumored about town but has never been read since Mr. Dwyer died before he could publish.

He also claimed that the weather was not like the news had widely claimed. He was also successful in winning a lawsuit against him. There also seemed to be some question about why the Big Bopper's body was on the north side of the fence and oriented differently than the other three...as if he might have, briefly, walked away from the crash site before he died.

I had met Mr. Dwyer several times through casual encounters about town and local school events. By the way Mr. Dwyer had kept most of the wreckage that is now owned by his wife, who just happens to be working with a ghost writer to finished her husband's book. He always seemed friendly and he and his family had a good reputation about town and in the area. Here's an article in the Des Moines Register archives about Mr. Dwyer.

You can see photos of the crash site and learn more in this Des Moines Register story: RIP Jerry Dwyer, a man haunted by the Buddy Holly crash.

Purportedly Mr. Dwyer's wife is attempting to finish the book project  and tell another side of the story about what happened that night.

* * * *
Buddy Holly at the Duluth Armory
Photo courtesy AAMC
Photo credit: Sharon Johnson
Another book with still more untold stories is scheduled to come out later this year. Louis Kemp, a boyhood friend from Bobby Zimmerman's Camp Herzl days, hopes to see the book released late this summer. One chapter, titled "Oh Boy," is devoted to the impact of the Winter Dance Party and Buddy Holly's visit to the Historic Duluth Armory.

In the back of my mind I'd often wondered who Bob was accompanied by that night. I couldn't imagine him just going by himself. Sure enough, I just learned he was with his friend Louis Kemp. We often hear that it was a cold one, 20 below zero. But temps get colder than the thermometer reading. According to Kemp it was minus 44 when you add the wind chill factor.

I asked what it was like to learn a couple days later that these men were killed in a plane crash. "I was in study hall at Duluth Central when the news was circulated." It was a shock.

* * * *
Other than the Buddy Holly shot, the photos on this page were submitted courtesy Mike Tefft who also included this personal story, a Blood Moon remembrance.

On a trip out to the crash site during a Blood Moon a few years back I spent several hours out there just meditating and taking an occasional photo. A couple of eerie (to me) things happened. After sunset and soon after I had paid respectful tribute, African style, by pouring a fifth of Tequila onto the ground at the memorial. 

A small aircraft was passing in the near distance and then circled in closer. The hairs stood up on the back of neck as I realized it was on a similar approach and height as the hired Beechcraft that had crashed. Of course, the plane circled away and continued its filed flight plan but definitely had me going. Nothing else of note, besides the spectacular moon, happened... until I was leaving. 

I paid my final respects for this visit to each of the dead and then collected all of my equipment and had the tripod in place on my shoulder and then started down the trail. Almost immediately I had a strong sense that I was being followed... closely! I paused several times and carefully looked around, as best I could in the fading light of the Blood Moon, and saw nothing but the sensation of being followed didn't go away. When I approached the gravel road near the large Buddy Holly glasses memorial and trail signpost the feeling of being followed disappeared. This had not happened before the night of the Blood Moon or since on any of my visits to the site.

Mason City Airport, aerial view, courtesy Mike Tefft.
* * * *

Tonight, from around 10:00 p.m. till early Monday around 2:30 there will be a total lunar eclipse as the earth passes between the moon and the sun. Depending on how clear the night skies are, millions of people in North and South America will have a prime view of this event. At a certain point the full moon will become fully tinted with the red-orange color of sunset, hence the nickname Blood Moon.

In our age of audacious headlining, some are now calling it a Super Wolf Blood Moon. Last year, if you recall (which you may not) we had two full moons in January, the latter being a Blue Moon which coincidentally was also a lunar eclipse event. Tonight's Blood Moon total eclipse will be the last we'll experience here for 18 years.

* * * *

Related Links
How this event led to the start of Bobby Vee's career.
AP story about Bobby Vee's passing in 2016 with still more details of his start.

DAI Biennial and Annual Member Show This Week... And More.

The Muse (Maureen) by Dale Lucas
There is always something happening here, and though there is no one spot that lists everything that's happening Esther Piszczek's Twin Ports Art blog is always a good place to start and a gift to the community.

While looking for the Twin Ports Art site I found a Pinterest board that features Twin Ports artists and was most surprised to see a couple of my pieces there. Thank you, Tweed Museum of Art. Honored to be considered worthy of such company. Keep adding more to this board. There are simply so many talented artists in this region whose work is worth sharing.

This week I received a notification from the Duluth Art Institute regarding the upcoming Member Show and Biennial Opening Reception this Thursday evening. The 62nd Arrowhead Regional Biennial, which is again displayed in the John Steffl Gallery on the fourth floor landing, is being dedicated to the late John Steffl whom we lost this past year.

The DAI is also dedicating the member show to another regional artist whom we lost very recently. Here is the letter many of us received this past week from Christina Woods:

Art touches everyday life in ways that is both personal and imperfect. January 9, we lost a dear friend in the truest sense of the word, Paul McIntyre. Paul, in his “old sarcastic New Englander- the Johnny Walker wisdom running high” way gave of his time to the arts with deep love. He, himself a photographer, had a down-to-earth inclusive way of seeing the world. “The imperfections are the most beautiful part,” he shared with me once, words that mean even more to me today. You can see that sentiment in Paul’s photography, how he captured the inherent beauty of everyday things, personal and imperfect. Paul’s album is available at https://www.flickr.com/photos/pelrrojo/. It is worth the time to view his work and revel in Paul’s view of the world.

Paul used his sense of humor and wisdom to advocate for the arts by immersing himself in the local art scene and supporting those in our region who are the makers of art. At the DAI, Paul was a regular volunteer, assisting with installs, checking in works of art for the Annual Member Show, and attending events highlighting the talent in the room. We were so pleased he accepted the 2017 DAI volunteer of the year award. We miss his poignant expression of life, wisdom, and his commitment to be present. Join us in saluting Paul’s talent, wisdom and commitment to the art with a well made chocolate chip cookie. His favorite, personal and imperfect.

The opening reception for both the Member Show and the Biennial are this coming Thursday from 5:00 to 8:00. In addition, Vern Northrup's Akinomaage, a photography exhibit, can be found in the Morrison Gallery along with Ray Allard's Jazz Forest in the Corridor Gallery.

Detail from Wendy Rouse's Ely Summer
* * * *
Artist and former Tweed Museum curator Eric Dubnicka is having an Art Exhibition and Garage Sale February 16.  The show is titled, "I'm Selling Most Everything I Own and Moving." Eric has made a rich contribution to the local art scene and will be missed. You can read more about his event Here on Facebook.  Here's my 2018 post about a visit with Eric in which we discussed his new directions, the Tweed and our Twin Ports art scene.

* * * *
QUICK NOTE: Next Saturday there will be a Jamie Ness Medical/Dental Relief Party at The Rex from 4-8 p.m.  I'll be writing more about this later but wanted to get it on your radar. We all fall on our faces once in a while, but in this case Jamie fell on his face from a ladder and had extensive damage as well as medical expenses. There will be music, live painting and $10,000 of silent auction items... and much more. Can't make it but wish to help? Visit the Jamie Ness Go Fund Me site here.

* * * *
And finally, one more image from the Biennial,
Julian Shibata's Daisies

Meantime, art goes on all around you. Engage it.

Friday, January 18, 2019

The Most Important Lesson I learned From Harvard Business Review

Early in my career I'd been a regular reader of Harvard Business Review. The articles and insights were rewarding and the takeaways many. There was one article, however, that made an impact to such a degree that it formed one of my guiding principles as a marketing communications manager and later advertising director. The article's premise was this: small companies cannot afford to behave like big companies.

By "behave like big companies" they meant spending. When big companies sneeze they spend more money than our entire net worth. As companies (and governments) get bloated, they become bloated and wasteful in their spending. This is something little companies cannot afford.

When Microsoft bought Nokia for $7.6 billion it was the kind of goof that only a big company can make. Three years later Microsoft wrote off the the loss and 8000 jobs were terminated, but the company continues to roll along. Small companies can't be so careless.

The same with spending on new product launches. Big companies spend, according to one article I'd read last year, something like $73 million to launch a new product. What small company, whose entire revenue stream may be less than $10 or $100 million can spend this kind of money to launch products? It's silly.

Instead, small companies have to be more resourceful and think like Scotsmen. I'm a MacGregor on my mother's side, so it comes natural to be thrifty, frugal, use more prudence when spending. As a result, in both companies I served in an advertising/marketing/PR capacity, I treated the company's money the way I treated my own, always striving to get the best ROI, not being wasteful. In both cases we experienced years of double-digit growth, not through massive spending blitzes but through guerrilla tactics and non-traditional approaches to markets.

Here are two articles from Harvard Business Review related to this message:

Seven Keys to Switching from a Big Company to a Small One

A Small Business Is Not a Little Big Business

Much more can be said, but let's leave that for another time. Have a great weekend. TGIF.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Only 10 Days till the Music of Buddy Holly Tribute Featuring Todd Eckart & His Band

And the joint was a-rockin', goin' round and round...  Photos Nelson French
We're already mid-January. Time to start thinking about the Winter Dance Party.

But First: A Correction. 
THE DOORS will not be opening for TODD ECKART as I originally announced. Rather, the doors will open at 5:00 p.m. at the Sports Garden in Canal Park with the show commencing at 5:30. BORN TOO LATE is the band that will open for Todd Eckart's Tribute to the Music of Buddy Holly and the Late 50's.

The event is 
Sunday January 27
@the Sports Garden

This is the 60th anniversary of that fateful Winter Dance Party Tour where Buddy Holly rolled into Duluth with a busload of stars that included Waylon Jennings, Tommy Allsup, drummer Carl Bunch, the Big Bopper (J.P. Richardson), Ritchie Valens and Dion and the Belmonts.

Hosted by the Armory Arts and Music Center the show is billed as A Benefit for the Historic Duluth National Guard Armory.

Join us for an evening of great music and memories to celebrate the revitalization of the historic Duluth Armory and relive the energy of that cold night in 1959.

SILENT AUCTION - an amazing array of deals - come ready to bid!
DANCE CONTEST - dance your heart out!
COSTUME CONTEST - come dressed to impress!

Gonna party like its 1959. Superior Ballroom Dance Studio dancers
Todd Eckart and His Band will rock the night away! You don't want to miss this show!

Related Links
A very cool site featuring

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Adversarial or Empathetic: Our Presuppositions Impact Our Dialogue Outcomes

An excellent article from Aeon was forwarded to my inbox this morning about the roots of our toxic public dialogue. The article by Alexander Bevilacqua, edited by Sally Davies, is titled The empathetic humanities have much to teach our adversarial culture.

The article begins with these sentences (highlights in blue.)

1. As anyone on Twitter knows, public culture can be quick to attack, castigate and condemn. 
Too true. Witness the flare-up in response to the recent #Gillette commercial.

2. In search of the moral high ground, we rarely grant each other the benefit of the doubt. 
Unfortunately, too often this is also true.

In her Class Day remarks at Harvard’s 2018 graduation, the Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie addressed the problem of this rush to judgment. In the face of what she called ‘a culture of “calling out”, a culture of outrage’, she asked students to ‘always remember context, and never disregard intent’.

The article is an essential read for our time, for it identifies the root ideas that created our culture of distrust.

One mode of reading, first described in 1965 by the French philosopher Paul Ricœur and known as ‘the hermeneutics of suspicion’, aims to uncover the hidden meaning or agenda of a text. Whether inspired by Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche or Sigmund Freud, the reader interprets what happens on the surface as a symptom of something deeper and more dubious, from economic inequality to sexual anxiety. The reader’s task is to reject the face value of a work, and to plumb for a submerged truth.

* * * *
This approach to history results in the erosion of all foundations for determining anything. It's the seed from which ideas like Pizzagate sprang.

A second form of interpretation, known as ‘deconstruction’, was developed in 1967 by the French philosopher Jacques Derrida. It aims to identify and reveal a text’s hidden contradictions – ambiguities and even aporias (unthinkable contradictions) that eluded the author.

The problem we have is one of approach with regard to what we read. The speed with which we judge or condemn others in public discourse springs from our lack of charity. The root of this comes from what Bevilacqua calls the ‘adversarial’ humanities?

Our approach, he suggests, should be more like historians. The task of historians is understanding, not judging.

I am reminded here of Dr. Edward de Bono's P.I.N. method of listening to one another in dialogue. Everything has a Positive, Interesting and Negative aspect or features. Instead immediately jumping on the negatives, we detach ourselves emotionally and address ideas rationally.

This AEON article is a MUST READ for anyone desirous to understand the current heated state of Twitter/Reddit social debate and contemporary dialogue.

Near the end he writes, Reading like a historian, then, involves not just a theory of interpretation, but also a moral stance. It is an attempt to treat others generously, and to extend that generosity even to those who can’t be hic et nunc – here and now.

As I see it, the ideas in this piece, if taken to heart could help reduce the tensions of our current polarized culture. At least it's a basis for hope.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Tech Tuesday: A Device That Helps Casinos Defeat Cheaters

Young Terry Roses, the Magician.
Whether it’s dice, slots, roulette or poker, everyone is hoping they can find a way to put the odds in their favor in the gaming room. A simple Google search will bring you all kinds of advice from how to throw the dice in craps to how to distract a dealer at a blackjack table. Most of those tips being proffered are pretty harmless to the casinos, usually giving people a false hope that they’ve found an edge.

On the other hand, because of the stakes, there are many others who push boundaries and actively work up new ways to cheat and, if able to not get caught, to win. It is gamers of this latter type, the cheats, that surveillance teams are on the lookout for, because they can be a threat.

So begins an article recently published in Casino Life magazine titled Optical Warfare at the Gaming Table.

The article features insights from Terry Roses, a consultant in the gaming industry who trains surveillance professionals on how the cheaters cheat, and how they can protect the integrity of their gaming enterprises.

Years of research and extensive testing led Roses to develop his relatively low-cost Inspecta Card Scanner, which has been endorsed by leading game protection experts including Ted Whiting, VP of Corp Surveillance at MGM Resorts International.

At one time the K.C. Card Company of Chicago sold crooked dice and all kinds of crooked card decks that people could order by mail from the catalog known as The Blue Book. These shady characters were ultimately shut down, but marked cards and other methods for pilfering greenbacks from innocents' wallets continue to this day.

Inside the Roses laboratory.

I've been told that with all the high-tech laser inks and marked cards coming out of China, every casino or private game operator is in jeopardy. The new inks being used can't be discovered using ultra violet or a black light. It's anyone's guess where all this is leading. Having been inside Terry Roses secret lab, I've observed the lengths to which he has gone to develop tools to stay ahead of the game.

It's not hocus pocus. It's science. Terry Roses remains on the cutting edge.
The markings on this ace are invisible to the naked eye.

 There is a lot more going on than you will ever know.

Related Link
Optical Warfare at the Gaming Table
Terry Roses' Inspecta Card Scanner website
Introduction to Gaming Cheats from the Wild West to the 21st Century
Robert Asiel Shares Stories About the Old Days of Cheating Casinos

Disclaimer: This blog occasionally accepts forms of compensation for writing about certain topics. 
The Inspecta Card Scanner is one of these topics.

Monday, January 14, 2019

An Anecdote About Being Too Busy

In 1982, when my wife Susie and I returned from a year in Mexico it was recommended to us that we consider Bethel Temple in St. Paul as a church to visit. Good people, good pastoral ministry, good worship, and good people. (O.K. yes, I said that twice.) Anyways, a very friendly blonde-haired fellow welcomed us after we visited the church, perhaps the first or maybe second time. He had a warm heart and our conversation was quite engaging.

In fact, I was so impressed with the wavelength he was on that I knew very early on this was someone I would like to get to know better. I could also tell, quite quickly, that he had a lot of responsibilities, was himself a very busy person with a very full life. In my somewhat direct manner I asked him, “Is your life too busy to have another friend?” (Or something like that.) He probably was, but graciously Henry and Lisa allowed Susie and I into their lives, for which we were exceptionally grateful.

Are you too busy to allow another person or new experience into your life?

A mutually enriching lifelong friendship evolved.

* * * *

Don't get out much? Want to meet new people? There's plenty to do and see in the local arts scene that is Free. Bookmark the Twin Ports Art blog and stay current with what is going on in poetry, reading and art.

Next week at the Duluth Art Institute is the Annual Member Show which I always try to attend. The opening reception is the same time as the Arrowhead Regional Biennial, a major juried show, always featuring exceptional work.

Art happens. Be part of it.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Worried about the Future? It Might Be Better Than You Think

Scene from Intergalactica.
To listen to some people you'd think it was the end of the world. Today's polarized politics, the threats from pollution, social breakdown, ongoing presence of nuclear weapons and other concerns hover over us like a cloud and nag us from the back of our collective minds.

Less than two weeks ago I overheard a couple say they were planning to not have children because the world is such a mess and the future grim. I'd heard this another time not that long ago as well, and it made me sad.

Yes, the are plenty of ways the future can play out with grim outcomes. A variety of dark futures have been written in the past including 1984 (Orwell), Brave New World (Huxley), Anthem (Ayn Rand), Fahrenheit 451 (Bradbury) and Neuromancer (Gibson) are just a few of the classics with bleak tomorrows.

When I was in high school I read Nevil Shute's On the Beach, which left many young people fearful of a nuclear winter. Cold war fears led many ordinary people to build bomb shelters and stockpile food and water.  (I don't recall seeing any books in my cousin's bomb shelter.)

Which leads to the power of Hollywood in reproducing many of these stories, and profiting from generating more such grim tales. Dystopian futures is now a cottage industry. So much so that we fail to recognize the progress that the human race has made over the past 500 years, which is the point of Steven Pinker's book Enlightenment Now.

Other books also point to a better tomorrow, including this one that I just read by futurist Joe Tankersley, a former Disney "imagineer" who has now published Reimagining Our Tomorrows: Making Sure Your Future Doesn't SUCK.

Here's my Summary of Joe Tankersley's book. Check it out.
Since we're talking about futures, here is a steampunk-era fantasy story that evolved from an art project I was part of a few years ago called Intergalactica.

Meantime, life goes on. Let's work together today for a brighter world tomorrow. 

Friday, January 11, 2019

My Take on Ian O'Connor's Belichick: A Review

Ian O'Connor's Belichick: The Making of the Greatest Football Coach of All Time is billed as "the definitive biography of the NFL’s most enigmatic, controversial, and yet successful coach." Because I'd mentioned it in an earlier blog post, I wanted to follow up with my take on the book now that I have finished it.

My starting point is an observation taken from sports journalist Jane Leavy's book about Mickey Mantle. My 2011 blog post about the Mick stated:

Mantle, like many American heroes, is a flawed man. His time in history was a period of innocence in which the sportswriters knew he was a man different from his iconic image. In those days the sportswriters could lose their jobs for writing some of the things they knew, Leavy notes. And today sportswriters might lose their jobs for not writing about what they knew. We live in a different time, a time of innocence lost.

My take on O'Connor's bio of New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is that the author seems to have made it his agenda to bathe the man with tar, dig up as much dirt as he could find, throw shovelfuls onto the tarred man and see how much sticks.

OK, there's plenty of praise, but 100% of the time, every story of winning or brilliance or nearly anything positive that occurs in his life is immediately followed by a hurtful barb. Were all these barbs really necessary? In the end the reader is left to wonder if the author really believes the title of his own book, that this man is the greatest coach ever.

A majority of the reviews for this book were positive, but I also like to check out the negative reviews, as they are sometimes on point. Here were a few one star reviews that I do not think were far off the mark.

Peevish, Petulant, and Puerile
This book is a hatchet job, pure and simple. Ian O'Conner is a hack journalist with an axe to grind. Don't waste your money.

Waste of time...
Here's an idea when writing a book, have a point, it's makes it so more Interesting for the reader. There's absolutely nothing new in this book. 500 pages of rehashed transcripts from three games to glory and a football life. Pathetic effort! Ian get your second-rate ass back on the bus to the minor leagues where you belong.

Not a valid source of information
This author never even interviewed Belichick for this book. Well known amongst fans that lots of these info are unconfirmed rumors. Ian O’Connor is at the bottom of any list for actual insider information about Patriots and Belichick.

These are pretty unkind cuts, even though it is apparent that the author did a lot of legwork. My problem goes back up to the Jane Leavy observation. I did not see it necessary to dig up every gripe ever made and weave it into the story. For example there were players who got traded who did not want to leave, but in a salary cap world, someone has to make hard decisions. BB made them. The guys who got traded grumble and it is in the book.

I'm not suggesting that we revert back to the former days where heroes' foibles and feet of clay were denied or varnished over with three coats of paint. It just seems that there is never a missed opportunity to pinch and prick the Pats' coach.

The Spygate story is extensively covered, and to O'Connor's credit he shares the extent to which many coaches have gone to great lengths, many of them ethically questionable, to find an edge. One amusing one was how Chicago Bear coach George Halas put itching powder in the soap of the opposing teams' locker room.

This section of the book does seem to go on forever though.  And then there's Deflategate. Hoo boy.

What impressed me most about both books--this one and Halberstam's--was how each showed Belichick's commitment to the Patriots being a TEAM.

* * * *
This past week I wrote about one of the insights I gained from O'Connor's book, which I turned into the acronym WWAUA, or What We Are Up Against. (You can it read it here.)  There were some additional insights as well that I didn't recall reading in the Halberstam book. And since this book is many years later, it does break down the details of several more big games in a way that makes them come alive for you again. He's a good writer. For my taste, the author too often came across as mean-spirited.

* * * *

Related Link
David Halberstam's Education of a Coach
Books by David Halberstam

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Throwback Thursday: Reflections on Water and Ice

34 below zero F. Coldest reading yet on our thermometer. The sun is a muted white, beaming from the southeast. Back down below, a prism of color rises from Rocky Run, a pulsing pillar that at times is quite pronounced and at other times so indistinct as to be invisible. It springs from the earth near two pines across the way which I have never noticed before, just this side of the gravel pit. It extends quite high at times, the endpiece of a rainbow. How strange this phenomenon on a cloudless morn.

How can it be so cold out there? Where does cold come from? Absence of heat... but the sun is no further, nor nearer, than another day 50 degrees warmer.

~ Journal note, 15 January 1994

While looking through one of my journals I came across the above observations. I was attempting to describe a phenomenon that I'd never seen before coming to Minnesota, the way fog and crystal-laden moisture refracts light in the context of intense cold. Here in the Northland you can sometimes tell how cold it is by the way it squeaks when walking on the frozen snow as you go out to fetch the paper in the morning.

Water is the strangest thing. The manner in which it changes based on temperature, and not just random temps but a specific temperature, at 0 degrees Celsius. And how it vanishes (becomes vapor) when it boils. Yet it is still H20 so that when it condenses it become moisture again.

The density of water is another mystery. You would think that when water freezes, becomes a solid, it would sink, wouldn't you? Yet when icebergs break off from Greenland they float. This seems very strange. Yet we just take it all for granted.

I was reading how water expands when it freezes. This, too, seems strange because the molecules are still H20, yet they re-form themselves somehow when they become crystals. My initial sense would be that frozen water would take less room, as if the fluid's molecules were arrange themselves tighter together when they became solid. But this is not the case. In point of fact, water expands by 9% when it freezes, hence the burst water pipes some of people have experienced in very cold weather in the Northland.

* * * *

Physics is the study of nature and natural phenomena in our world. I have fond memories of Mr. Dennison's physics class my junior year in high school. A former minor league pitcher who after 7 years finally came up for a pair of games with the Red Sox at the end of a season, he was also our Junior Varsity baseball coach. I learned a lot from Mr. Dennison about many things, but never quite got the answer to why it's so hard to hit a knuckleball.

* * * *

By the way, did you see the size of the moon last night? (Unfortunately, a sheet of clouds slid across the sky to hide the eclipse that occurred shortly after dark.) I find it intriguing that when the moon circles 'round the earth its influence causes the tides to advance and recede. Because of gravity the earth's bodies of water pull inward, or downward depending on your point of view. But when the moon passes overhead the gravitational pull of our lunar companion produces swelling seas. What's especially interesting is how the waters on the opposite side of the earth also bulge to produce a high tide there as well. (You can read how all this works here.)

* * * *

It's also interesting that water covers about two-thirds of the earth, and that when we mature our own bodies are about two-thirds water. (The ratio changes from infancy to maturity.)

* * * *

Here's another observation. Whereas water is essential for our nourishment to survive, water is also a destructive force, causing buildings to rot, dead trees to decay, and so on.

* * * *

For those who are interested in other mysteries and observations about water check out these links:

The Many Mysteries of Water

5 Weird Things About Water

Middle School Chemistry Lessons on Water and Ice

Observations on Melting and Freezing

In closing, a quote to float your boat: “Human nature is like water. It takes the shape of its container.” ― Wallace Stevens

EdNote: The journal entry that started this post was our second winter living just outside Duluth. Since that time I have since seen 42 below on our thermometer. Welcome to the Northland. The original blog post was published in 2015.