Friday, November 13, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Here I am in Service Representative training, which lasted 12 weeks. There was lots for me to learn about a very complicated business.
A few years and lots more hair later, I arranged for the donation of an old coin collector's truck to the Fairfax Jaycees, of which I was a Director. The Jaycees in turn donated the truck to Central Fairfax Services, which provided transportation to mentally disabled adults.
Monday, November 09, 2009
Saturday, November 07, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Thanks to Jerry Webb for forwarding this post, which was created by Rober Ball and Ronny Light
1915 - 2009
New York, NY…August 13, 2009…Les Paul, acclaimed guitar player, entertainer and inventor, passed away today from complications of severe pneumonia at White Plains Hospital in White Plains, New York, surrounded by family and loved ones. He had been receiving the best available treatment through this final battle and in keeping with his persona, he showed incredible strength, tenacity and courage. The family would like to express their heartfelt thanks for the thoughts and prayers from his dear friends and fans. Les Paul was 94.
One of the foremost influences on 20th century sound and responsible for the world’s most famous guitar, the Les Paul model, Les Paul’s prestigious career in music and invention spans from the 1930s to the present. Though he’s indisputably one of America’s most popular, influential, and accomplished electric guitarists, Les Paul is best known as an early innovator in the development of the solid body guitar. His groundbreaking design would become the template for Gibson’s best-selling electric, the Les Paul model, introduced in 1952. Today, countless musical legends still consider Paul’s iconic guitar unmatched in sound and prowess. Among Paul’s most enduring contributions are those in the technological realm, including ingenious developments in multi-track recording, guitar effects, and the mechanics of sound in general.
Born Lester William Polsfuss in Waukesha, Wisconsin on June 9, 1915, Les Paul was already performing publicly as a honky-tonk guitarist by the age of 13. So clear was his calling that Paul dropped out of high school at 17 to play in Sunny Joe Wolverton’s Radio Band in St. Louis. As Paul’s mentor, Wolverton was the one to christen him with the stage name “Rhubarb Red,” a moniker that would follow him to Chicago in 1934. There, Paul became a bona fide radio star, known as both hillbilly picker Rhubarb Red and Django Reinhardt-informed jazz guitarist Les Paul. His first recordings were done in 1936 on an acoustic—alone as Rhubarb Red, as well as backing blues singer Georgia White. The next year he formed his first trio, but by 1938 he’d moved to New York to begin his tenure on national radio with one of the more popular dance orchestras in the country, Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians.
Tinkering with electronics and guitar amplification since his youth, Les Paul began constructing his own electric guitar in the late ’30s. Unhappy with the first generation of commercially available hollowbodies because of their thin tone, lack of sustain, and feedback problems, Paul opted to build an entirely new structure. “I was interested in proving that a vibration-free top was the way to go,” he has said. “I even built a guitar out of a railroad rail to prove it. What I wanted was to amplify pure string vibration, without the resonance of the wood getting involved in the sound.” With the good graces of Epiphone president Epi Stathopoulo, Paul used the Epiphone plant and machinery in 1941 to bring his vision to fruition. He affectionately dubbed the guitar “The Log.”
Les Paul’s tireless experiments sometimes proved to be dangerous, and he nearly electrocuted himself in 1940 during a session in the cellar of his Queens apartment. During the next two years of rehabilitation, Les earned his living producing radio music. Forced to put the Pennsylvanians and the rest of his career on hold, Les Paul moved to Hollywood. During World War II, he was drafted into the Army but permitted to stay in California, where he became a regular player for Armed Forces Radio Service. By 1943 he had assembled a trio that regularly performed live, on the radio, and on V-Discs. In 1944 he entered the jazz spotlight—thanks to his dazzling work filling in for Oscar Moore alongside Nat King Cole, Illinois Jacquet, and other superstars —at the first of the prestigious Jazz at the Philharmonic concerts.
By his mid-thirties, Paul had successfully combined Reinhardt-inspired jazz playing and the western swing and twang of his Rhubarb Red persona into one distinctive, electrifying style. In the Les Paul Trio he translated the dizzying runs and unusual harmonies found on Jazz at the Philharmonic into a slower, subtler, more commercial approach. His novelty instrumentals were tighter, brasher, and punctuated with effects. Overall, the trademark Les Paul sound was razor-sharp, clean-shaven, and divinely smooth.
As small combos eclipsed big bands toward the end of World War II, Les Paul Trio’s popularity grew. They cut records for Decca both alone and behind the likes of Helen Forrest, the Andrews Sisters, the Delta Rhythm Boys, Dick Hayes, and, most notably, Bing Crosby. Since 1945, when the crooner brought them into the studio to back him on a few numbers, the Trio had become regular guests on Crosby’s hit radio show. The highlight of the session was Paul’s first No. 1 hit and million-seller, the gorgeous “It’s Been a Long, Long Time.”
Meanwhile, Paul began to experiment with dubbing live tracks over recorded tracks, also altering the playback speed. This resulted in “Lover (When You’re Near Me),” his revolutionary 1947 predecessor to multi-track recording. The hit instrumental featured Les Paul on eight different electric guitar parts, all playing together.
In 1948, Paul nearly lost his life to a devastating car crash that shattered his right arm and elbow. Still, he convinced doctors to set his broken arm in the guitar-picking and cradling position. Laid up but undaunted, Paul acquired a first generation Ampex tape recorder from Crosby in 1949, and began his most important multi-tracking adventure, adding a fourth head to the recorder to create sound-on-sound recordings. While tinkering with the machine and its many possibilities, he also came up with tape delay. These tricks, along with another recent Les Paul innovation—close mic-ing vocals—were integrated for the first time on a single recording: the 1950 No. 1 tour de force “How High the Moon.”
This historic track was performed during a duo with future wife Mary Ford. The couple’s prolific string of hits for Capitol Records not only included some of the most popular recordings of the early 1950s, but also wrote the book on contemporary studio production. The dense but crystal clear harmonic layering of guitars and vocals, along with Ford’s close mic-ed voice and Paul’s guitar effects, produced distinctively contemporary recordings with unprecedented sonic qualities. Through hits, tours, and popular radio shows, Paul and Ford kept one foot in the technological vanguard and the other in the cultural mainstream.
All the while, Les Paul continued to pine for the perfect guitar. Though The Log came close, it wasn’t quite what he was after. In the early 1950s, Gibson Guitar would cultivate a partnership with Paul that would lead to the creation of the guitar he’d seen only in his dreams. In 1948, Gibson elected to design its first solidbody, and Paul, a self-described “dyed-in-the-wool Gibson man,” seemed the right man for the job. Gibson avidly courted the guitar legend, even driving deep into the Pennsylvania mountains to deliver the first model to newlyweds Les Paul and Mary Ford.
“Les played it, and his eyes lighted up,” then-Gibson President Ted McCarty has recalled. The year was 1950, and Paul had just signed on as the namesake of Gibson’s first electric solidbody, with exclusive design privileges. Working closely with Paul, Gibson forged a relationship that would change popular culture forever. The Gibson Les Paul model—the most powerful and respected electric guitar in history—began with the 1952 release of the Les Paul Goldtop. After introducing the original Les Paul Goldtop in 1952, Gibson issued the Black Beauty, the mahogany-topped Les Paul Custom, in 1954. The Les Paul Junior (1954) and Special (1955) were also introduced before the canonical Les Paul Standard hit the market in 1958. With revolutionary humbucker pickups, this sunburst classic has remained unchanged for the half-century since it hit the market.
“The world has lost a truly innovative and exceptional human being today. I cannot imagine life without Les Paul. He would walk into a room and put a smile on anyone’s face. His musical charm was extraordinary and his techniques unmatched anywhere in the world,” said Henry Juszkiewicz, Chairman and CEO of Gibson Guitar. “We will dedicate ourselves to preserving Les’ legacy to insure that it lives on forever. He touched so many lives throughout his remarkable life and his influence extends around the globe and across every boundary. I have lost a dear, personal friend and mentor, a man who has changed so many of our lives for the better.”
“I don’t think any words can describe the man we know as Les Paul adequately. The English language does not contain words that can pay enough homage to someone like Les. As the “Father of the Electric Guitar”, he was not only one of the world’s greatest innovators but a legend who created, inspired and contributed to the success of musicians around the world,” said Dave Berryman, President of Gibson Guitar. “I have had the privilege to know and work with Les for many, many years and his passing has left a deep personal void. He was simply put – remarkable in every way. As a person, a musician, a friend, an inventor. He will be sorely missed by us all,”
With the rise of the rock ’n’ roll revolution of 1955, Les Paul and Mary Ford’s popularity began to wane with younger listeners, though Paul would prove to be a massive influence on younger generation of guitarists. Still, Paul and Ford maintained their iconic presence with their wildly popular television show, which ran from 1953-1960. In 1964, the couple, parents to a son and daughter, divorced. Paul began playing in Japan, and recorded an LP for London Records before poor health forced him to take time off—as much as someone so inspired can take time off.
In the 1977, Paul resurfaced with a Grammy-winning Chet Atkins collaboration, Chester and Lester. Then the ailing guitarist, who’d already suffered arthritis and permanent hearing loss, had a heart attack, followed by bypass surgery.
Ever stubborn, Les recovered, and returned to live performance in the late 1980s. Until recently Les continued to perform two weekly New York shows with the Les Paul Trio, even releasing the 2005 double-Grammy winner Les Paul & Friends: American Made World Played, featuring collaborations with a veritable who’s who of the electric guitar, including dozens of illustrious fans like Keith Richards, Buddy Guy, Billy Gibbons, Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, and Joe Perry. In 2008, The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame paid tribute to Les Paul in a week-long celebration of his life which culminated with a live performance by Les himself.
Les Paul has since become the only individual to share membership into the Grammy Hall of Fame, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the National Inventors Hall of Fame, and the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Les is survived by his three sons Lester (Rus) G. Paul, Gene W. Paul and Robert (Bobby) R. Paul, his daughter Colleen Wess, son-in-law Gary Wess, long time friend Arlene Palmer, five grandchildren and five great grandchildren. A private Funeral service will be held in New York. A service in Waukesha, WI will be announced at a later date. Details will follow and will be announced for all services. Memorial tributes for the public will be announced at a future date. The family asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Les Paul Foundation, 236 West 30th Street, 7th Floor, New York, New York 10001.
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Hope you enjoy them.
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
So I decided to do some research on my own. (My comments are in red.)
Here's what I found out:
US Health System Ranks Last Compared to Other Countries: Studies
May 15, 2007 WASHINGTON
"The US health care system ranks last among other major rich countries for quality, access and efficiency, according to two studies released Tuesday by a health care think tank.
"The studies by the Commonwealth Fund found that the United States, which has the most expensive health system in the world, underperforms consistently relative to other countries and differs most notably in the fact that Americans have no universal health insurance coverage.
"The United States stands out as the only nation in these studies that does not ensure access to health care through universal coverage and promotion of a 'medical home' for patients," said Commonwealth Fund president Karen Davis.
"The US ranked last in most areas, including access to health care, patient safety, timeliness of care, efficiency and equity. Americans were also last in terms of whether they had a regular physician.
"The US spends twice what the average industrialized country spends on health care but we're clearly not getting value for the money," Davis told AFP.
"The United States is also far behind in adopting modern health information technology, which translates into spiralling costs and poor care."
U.S. Health Care Spending: Comparison with Other OECD Countries - published May 2007 by the Congressional Research Service (under the BUSH administration):
"...countries that spend less than the United States on health care nevertheless enjoy similar high levels of reported health status. In particular, New Zealand, Ireland, and Canada spend a half to a third as much as the United States, yet the percentages of their populations who report a "good" or better health status is nearly identical to the United States.
"The average life expectancy for a person in the United States is 77 ½ years — slightly below the OECD average, and 4½ years less than top rated Japan. Life expectancy is nearly 2½ years longer in Canada than in the United States. The United States is ranked 22nd out of 30 countries on life expectancy at birth.
"The United States has a higher rate of deaths from natural causes than 17 OECD countries. The higher U.S. number of premature deaths (before the age of 70) from all causes except external causes (e.g., accidents) results in an average of 35.9 years of life lost per 1,000 people in the United States — a loss of roughly 7 additional years compared to the OECD average of 29 years of lost life per 1,000 people.
"Death rates for heart disease in the United States are the 17th worst in the OECD, despite the fact that the United States performs substantially more invasive heart procedures than all other countries in the OECD. "In terms of respiratory diseases, the United States ranks 24th out of 30 countries, with twice as many people dying from respiratory diseases in the United States compared with the top-ranked countries, France, Switzerland, and Italy.
"The United States has the third-highest rate of deaths from medical errors, among 26 countries reporting."The United States has the third-highest infant mortality rate in the OECD, after Turkey and Mexico.
"In 2004, the United States spent more than twice as much on health care as the average OECD country, at $6,102 per person (compared with the OECD average of $2,560). Health care spending comprised 15.3% of the U.S. GDP in 2004, compared with an average of 8.9% for the average OECD country. Although a country's health expenditures are highly correlated with GDP, U.S. health spending is nevertheless 60% greater than its GDP alone would predict.
"The United States spends more on prescription drugs per capita than any other OECD country. The United States also consumes more prescription drugs than most OECD countries, according to a nine-country study. That study found that the United States paid more for brand name drugs but less for generic drugs than other OECD countries."Spending on health administration and insurance cost $465 per person in the United States in 2004, which was seven times that of the OECD median."
NY Times July 17, 2008
While the U.S. Spends Heavily on Health Care, a Study Faults the Quality
"American medical care may be the most expensive in the world, but that does not mean it is worth every penny. A study to be released Thursday highlights the stark contrast between what the United States spends on its health system and the quality of care it delivers, especially when compared with many other industrialized nations.
"The report, the second national scorecard from this influential health policy research group, shows that the United States spends more than twice as much on each person for health care as most other industrialized countries. But it has fallen to last place among those countries in preventing deaths through use of timely and effective medical care, according to the report by the Commonwealth Fund, a nonprofit research group in New York.
"Access to care in the United States has worsened since the fund’s first report card in 2006 as more people — some 75 million — are believed to lack adequate health insurance or are uninsured altogether. And within the nation, the report found, the cost and quality of care vary drastically.
"The study, which assesses the United States on 37 health care measures, finds little improvement since the last report, as the cost of health care continues to rise steadily and more people — even those with insurance — struggle to pay their medical bills."
So things continue to get worse.
From McKinsey Global Institute: (See here for the complete study.)
"…the United States spends $650 billion more on health care than might be expected given the country's wealth and the experience of comparable members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The research also pinpoints where that extra spending goes. Roughly two-thirds of it pays for outpatient care, including visits to physicians, same-day hospital treatment, and emergency-room care. The next-largest contributors to the extra spending are drugs and administration and insurance.
"It's not clear whether the United States gets $650 billion worth of extra value. Parts of the US health care system, such as its best hospitals, are clearly world class. Cutting-edge drugs and treatments are available earlier there, and waiting times to see physicians tend to be lower. Yet the country lags behind other OECD members on a number of outcome measures, including life expectancy and infant mortality. Furthermore, access to health care is unequal: more than 45 million Americans lack insurance."
So you could say this is a $650 Billion tax that weighs down our economy and as a result makes the products and services that we might export that much less competitive, costing more Americans their jobs (and health insurance) in a continuing downward spiral.
"The health care system in the U.S. has a vast number of players. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of insurance companies in the U.S. This system has considerable administrative overhead, far greater than in nationalized, single-payer systems, such as Canada's. An oft-cited study by Harvard Medical School and the Canadian Institute for Health Information determined that some 31% of U.S. health care dollars, or more than $1,000 per person per year, went to health care administrative costs, nearly double the administrative overhead in Canada, on a percentage basis.
"Enrollment rules in private and governmental programs result in millions of Americans going without health care coverage, including children. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that 45.7 million Americans (about 15.3% of the total population) had no health insurance coverage at some point during 2007. Most uninsured Americans are working-class persons whose employers do not provide health insurance, and who earn too much money to qualify for one of the local or state insurance programs for the poor, but do not earn enough to cover the cost of enrollment in a health insurance plan designed for individuals.
So THE U.S. CURRENTLY HAS HEALTH CARE RATIONING. The problem is that the rationing is done on the basis of income and employment. If you're unemployed like a significant and growing percentage of Americans, then you lose your health care. Few unemployed people have the resources to pay for private coverage, so their families go without health care. The U.S. could experience a real public health crisis in the event of a pandemic, because so many will lack the ability to afford immunizations or treatment.
"A lack of mental health coverage for Americans bears significant ramifications to the U.S. economy and social system. A report by the U.S. Surgeon General found that mental illnesses are the second leading cause of disability in the nation and affect 20 percent of all Americans. It is estimated that less than half of all people with mental illnesses receive treatment due to factors such as stigma and lack of access to care."
So the U.S. health care system costs too much, delivers too little, hamstrings the US economy with excessive costs that drag down our economy - and is also unfair, failing to provide for the basic health care needs of millions of Americans.
The Obama program may not be perfect, but it's well past time for arguing about whether fundamental change is needed. The sooner we get started the sooner we'll arrive at a better future for our country. I want my grandchildren to grow up in a healthy world.
Saturday, January 17, 2009
I was born & raised in Falls Church, VA, just six miles from Washington, DC where so many important events in our nation's history have taken place. This map shows the drive from my boyhood home to the Capitol.
In May 1963 I witnessed the parade for astronaut Gordon Cooper.
Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his historic "I Have a Dream" speech in August 1963 only minutes from my home.
Just months later in November 1963, while I was a Junior at JEB Stuart High School I drove downtown in the middle of the night to view the miles-long line of people waiting to view JFK's body lying in state at the Capitol.
On April 15, 1968 from our house we could see the smoke from parts of the city that had been set ablaze following Martin Luther King, Jr.'s assassination. I was home from college during spring break at the time.
Most of us suburban residents of the DC area tried to stay away from downtown when there were big crowds.
Nashville, TN has been my home for over ten years now. I have some fond memories of the 52 years of my life spent in Northern Virginia but am glad to be living in a much less stressful environment.
Sunday, January 11, 2009
Wednesday, January 07, 2009
"I remained one day and two nights with him and then made my way to Memphis, crossing the Obion Lake which had been made by the shaking of the earth in 1810. An eruption took place and threw up the earth across the mouth of the Obion River some 15 miles below where I crossed it. I could see the tops of the trees the water had backed over. Here I was greatly astonished at seeing the boatmen as they crossed the lake catching the flying fish by suspending a hook and line with a small bit of scarlet skimming the surface of the water. The fish would rise out of the water and take the hook; they caught numbers as we crossed. I crossed the Michigan Lake also. It was not so large. I saw a great many earth cracks occasioned by the shake above named, some so large that they had to be bridged where the road crossed them. It was strange to see the white sand thrown out on the black soil in so many places.
"In traveling down the line of counties to Memphis I was so near the river I had to swim the bayous as the waters were very high. I rode all day on Christmas day being the wettest day I have ever witnessed. I however succeeded in getting to Memphis and got my money and started for home on the first day of January 1831. On my way home I came very near being drowned in Little River in the Cherokee Nation. I swam it after night and was washed below the ford but miraculously escaped. Before going into the water I tied all my money in my handkerchief and around my neck so that if I was drowned it might be found on my person. Through great mercy I got home safe, found all well, and though I lost my school that winter I made $150 by the trip and prepared for a crop."
Friday, January 02, 2009
Let the Good Times Roll (Muddy Waters/traditional)
Can I Change my Mind (Tyrone Davis)
Devil with a Blue Dress (Mitch Ryder & The Detroit Wheels)
Jailhouse Rock (Elvis)
Raise your Hand (Eddie Floyd / Bruce Springsteen)
Sittin' on The Dock of the Bay (Otis Redding)
Daydream (Lovin' Spoonful)
It Don't Come Easy (Ringo Starr)
Mellow Yellow (Donovan)
Hold on I'm Coming (Sam & Dave)
Don't Worry Baby (Beach Boys)
I'm Ready (Muddy Waters)
Peter Gunn Theme/Pink Cadillac (Henry Mancini/Bruce Springsteen)
California Sun (The Riverias)
Love Potion No. 9 (The Clovers)
Ain't no Sunshine (Bill Withers)
96 Tears (? & The Mysterians)
Hanky Panky (Tommy James & The Shondells)
Doo-Wah-Diddy (Manfred Mann)
Knock on Wood (Eddie Floyd)
I've Been Loving you too Long (Otis Redding)
Keep Your Hands to Yourself (Georgia Satellites)
Magic Carpet Ride (Steppenwolf)
Fire (Bruce Springsteen)
But it's Alright (J.J. Jackson)
Knockin' on Heaven's Door (Bob Dylan)
Auld Lang Syne (traditional)
Midnight Hour (Wilson Pickett)
Caldonia (Muddy Waters)
Let's Get Stoned (Joe Cocker)
When a Man Loves A Woman (Percy Sledge)
Folsom Prison Blues (Johnny Cash)
Brown-Eyed Girl (Van Morrison)
Green River (Creedence Clearwater Revival)
The Weight (The Band)
Hard to Handle (Otis Redding)
Surfin' U.S.A. (Beach Boys)
Louie, Louie (Kingsmen)
Mustang Sally (Wilson Pickett)