Who The Hell Is Snowbum?© Copyright 2021, R. Fleischer
I've long been known to ponder upon life (or, most anything, perhaps including an upcoming trip or an article I was working on), whilst sitting on a granite rock outcropping or downed log in the nearby forest, when I lived at South Lake Tahoe (1973-2019). I'd usually bring my Malamute with me ....and always a writing pad. I've always set aside time to just think, and jot down thoughts and ideas, since I was barely a teen. I guess that means that I started out early, to be nerdy.
By the time you finish reading this rambling jumping-around piece, you will be ready for a beer (or two). For me...well, make mine Russian Imperial Stout ....or single malt Scotch Whisky. Hopefully you will not be too bored.
I was not yet 15 when I started out on my own. This was the result of numerous 'disagreements' with my parents. Disagreements over everything from time spent excessively (at their 'prompting') piano practicing ....to squabbling with my brother ...and problems with neighbors (and me). I was, as it is said, 'a handful'. I had a neighborhood reputation as "THAT kid".
Is there something like an responsibly-irresponsible teen? In my case, it very likely started long before I was a teenager. Maybe I should just blame circumstances......as I was first-born, had a 7 year younger brother, no sisters, and I probably was a bit spoiled. On the other hand, maybe I should only blame myself. Looking back, I think I was the only "THAT kid" in my folk's neighborhood.
Some called me a genius at an early age. I doubt that. It is my firm belief that I simply had a very intense curiosity about everything from as far back as I can remember anything, and I'm sure some of that came about from having a 'weak' left eye, ....yes, really. My left eye from birth caused me a lot of problems. It was mostly fixed (at age 70) when developing cataracts began bothering me more and more. Why did my left eye have such an effect on me from young child age? I've thought about that and reached some conclusions. My distance perception was poor. I could not play ball games competently, and I surely wanted-to. Identifying distance and speed of any ball was very frustrating. That led to not trying to do many things I could not be good at, so I compensated for poor ball-playing by getting into other things. It was not 100% bad, as I did find that by consciously refocusing (which was quite tiring when done constantly), I could do "OK". Slightly better was looking a bit sideways...but that was VERY tiring. I applied the scan and refocus method when trying to play volley-ball at the beach......it worked somewhat better than just scan and focus, but was tiring. Still, trying to play baseball or football, even volley-ball, was just plain unpleasant. From an early age with a little red wagon (that I motorized), and in place of most sports .... I substituted mechanical things, including fast bicycling ...which began long before I could legally drive cars. Later, in my mid-teens, longer distance bicycling, hiking, backpacking and motor sports filled much of whatever leisure time I managed to obtain. I had intense study attributes, so I managed to pass school tests fairly easily; and, with very few school-based after-hours events that I was going to participate in, I filled-in blank areas with nerdy-ness, curiosity, and a rather decent ability to do almost anything with my hands. It is questionable whether or not, at times, if my brain use was concurrent and synchronous with some of my 'doings'. My long bio explains all sorts of things...including how I dealt with that left eye, ...and how I became a commercial-rated pilot, ...and had two other associated careers as well.
Over-all, I had a strong tendency to jump into most anything, and I dealt with whatever those things were ...as serious projects. The deeper longer projects were such as Classical Philosophy, history, lots of mathematics, electricity, engines ....and sports cars and motorcycles. Especially, in my late teens, Harley's, Vincent's, a BSA, a Triumph or two.....some dirt bikes..... and, finally, I got around to BMW Airhead's, which conveniently happened when they started being built in late 1969. It is quite fair to say that 'things' were substituted ...for a rather considerable lack of social graces. Some substitutions were occasionally notable ....because I had a tendency to speak my mind, ....no matter the effects from such.
A study of woman-kind was not at all that fruitful either, ...at least for some time. Although more than occasionally pleasurable, I never came close to mastery, although I got better at it. Many a man might relate. Spending time with my male friends was usually more rewarding, at least for long term friendships. My friends generally appreciated my mechanical and electrical abilities, which did not injure my ego.
This section is the shortest version of my bio:
Purchased first bike .....a '51 BSA 500; repaired electronics items since early teenager; purchased brand-new Triumph TR-6 in 1956 (I was 19); first brand-new BMW also in 1956; Chief Technician & Head Of The Shop for a BMW dealership during /5 & /6 era; Commercial, Private, & military pilot/instructor; electronics specialist for two Government Agencies (no, do NOT ask). Long military & government Agencies career; electronics design engineer for several companies. Last direct employment (except for The Government) was as Chief Engineer of Linear Corp. Owned BMW motorcycle repair service and several other businesses. Lived mostly in the greater Los Angeles area until late 1972. Taught at UCLA for awhile. Grew tired of the Los Angeles rat race, and moved to South Lake Tahoe, California.... where I more or less settled-down for many years; escaping now and then on long hikes, long rides, and occasionally revisiting Los Angeles to see my brother, old friends, and to guest-teach at UCLA on a few occasions. I had my BMW shop and my electronics shop, and eventually retired from all Government assignments and 'services'; moving to Carson City, Nevada in 2019, where I rebuilt my electronics service shop (into my garage)...and, I am still repairing electronics & doing a bit of engineering, even though I am now in my eighties. Was still riding BMW motorcycles & driving BMW sidecar rigs into 2019. ~800,000 miles on motorcycles, ~650,000 of which are on BMW's. Taught or otherwise helped at various Tech Seminars including TechDays, 49er Rally, BeemerBash, MOA, etc.; jointly did a Wheel Bearing Seminar at a BMW MOA National Rally. Plenty of other instances of such. Was an Instructor ...and also the Saturday evening Banquet Keynote Speaker ....at BMW SuperTech in 2011 and same in 2019. I designed this website & hand-wrote the code, beginning in late 1998 ....and still do a lot of editing, writing, and hand coding. I continued to write for magazines under pen names until late 2019; I may do it again. Up until around year 2010, I had a prodigious memory, and could recall hundreds of full BMW part numbers; and could remember untold pages of factory manuals, factory sketches, methods of doing things, etc. My extreme long term memory has faded some. Luckily, I had written down most of my BMW knowledge, and begun this website, long before there was any deterioration. Still, my memory is likely exceptionally large. I have a strong ability to visualize things, particularly parts sketches as in BMW literature (and on-line sources)....and parts numbers, once the sketches are pointedly in my mind, where I am looking at them.
For those whose attention span is somewhat better, you can read this section, .............and then go do something useful or more pleasurable! Heck, why not go do something else anyway?
I don't advise reading the long version that follows the black line that ends this section. On the other hand, everyone loves talking about themselves, ...so, go ahead...READ IT! I'm known for verbosity and poor use of fonts and colors, let alone pushing grammar limits. In that respect, and, due to mistakes (and some remarks by others), I am well-into removing the majority of disliked changeable fonts and colors from this website, due to 'suggestions' of 'a few folks'.
My real name is Robert Fleischer. I'm often called Bob, or 'bum or 'The Bum' or Snowbum. A few people use Snobum, without the w, but I did not, except on my vehicle's license plates, where no more than 7 characters are allowable. When I moved in late 2019 from So. Lake Tahoe to Carson City, Nevada, I could not continue with the prior license plates for my vehicles, so, instead of using the same license plate SNOBUM or XMARINE, I decided to see what it was like to be anonymous. BTW, searching for me on the Internet with no w may not give you what you want. I may yet change my Nevada license plates to SNOBUM.
I had my first street-address-store-front-business when only 15; repairing & selling electronics, a real brick & mortar place, not a garage or home type operation. I was in high school. I still had that store while in college. I had little time to get into after-school activities. I missed most of the entire school part of 'growing up', from grammar school through college. I purchased a brand-new BMW, a model 600 car, in late 1955 or early 1956, don't remember which year, & way too lazy to go find my records. It was a fun little car. A photo + description is near the bottom of this link: https://bmwmotorcycletech.info/photogallery.htm
In most of my motorcycle & sports car racing days, my track name was FLASH. Flash was also my trail name when I did the Pacific Crest Trail. A few have called me Blinky or Blinkie, due to my habit of riding bikes with modulating headlights. I designed, built, & installed my own version, many decades ago, after which I decided the new-fangled small commercial units would do OK, and to this day I regret not patenting, or copyrighting, and selling it to the world.
It could be said that I was very nerdy as a kid ...long before I was a know-everything teenager. In actuality, I never was a know-everything. But, I did apprentice myself for short periods in various areas, explained in my long version bio. I was a math-physics major in school. I worked for Douglas Aircraft Company (Metrology lab) for a while in 1956. I then worked for Hughes Aviation (Metrology lab & later as Staff Engineer). I transferred to the Hughes Research Labs in Malibu, working on 'various projects'. I was an electronics design engineer for Stoddart Aircraft Radio Company (RFI receivers & secret Government projects, NOTHING for aircraft, despite the name) and received my first Patent when I worked for them. I worked for Telemeter Magnetics (designing driver circuitry for magnetic core computer memories, this was circa 1959), & for a company making medical electronics items. I ended my salaried engineering career as the Chief Engineer of Linear Corporation. As their Chief Engineer I was, besides being the head of the engineering department, a hands-on circuits & product designer. I eventually burned-out on Los Angeles ....I was tired of the vehicle traffic ...& tired of some people ...so, I quit Linear Corp., a GREAT company to work for. I did some electronics consulting work for a period of time while wrapping-up my life ...then I moved to Lake Tahoe at the end of 1972, first divesting myself of my '72 Corvette racer...and, a few other vehicles....except for my R75/5...and a few basket-case antique bikes (I had been a collector for some time).
I retired from the military and the unmentionable government agencies, after 30 years, 3 months, and two days (as they say, "...but, who's counting"). Explaining slightly differently: while in the military, I eventually was re-assigned to one or another of Government three-letter Agencies, where I was responsible for 'certain technical things'. Seems like our government had need, or thought it did, of some of my strange talents. Some old friends still call me Colonel. I was actually a Lt. Colonel, never made full bird. ...why is a campfire story.
College time (a year of medical school, but rest was all electrical and electronics engineering ...with a curiosity in math & physics) aside, ... secondary training, education & experience was my thing...I even managed, later, to be a pilot & flight instructor. I also had, since my teen years, the previously mentioned repair/sales business (consumer electronics, later adding musicians electronics and industrial electronics). I still have that business, now much shrunk-down. I am retired from commercial flying, including flight instruction. Yes, I had more than one 'career' at roughly the same time & I traveled a considerable amount. Those careers had a strong tendency to mesh together in various sometimes strange ways. But, let's backtrack....
Older friends were getting drafted at age 21-1/2 when I was in high school. All 18 year-olds had to sign up for Selective Service (that means The Military) at age 18. The Marine Corps was my selected option, ....with a deferment until I had finished college with a BSEE; this was extended after "Basic"... while I got my MSEE, ...after which I had to actually go into the Service. I left my job at Hughes but the Government found THAT interesting. Another story, sometime. With 'prompting & promises' by the Military, I became an engineering employee of a civilian company doing "special projects" funded by The Government. I also had a few military deployments. Due to my classified Agency work my parents and even my own brother knew nothing about what I was doing. I found especially interesting the Special Projects. Financially, things were also interesting ....because ....as both a military 'employee' and civilian employee, of whatever company the military or Agency wanted me at ......I got paid by both....while my Government association was hidden. OK, just say it was "Secret". I saved or invested about half of my income for MANY years. (I also gave away my military pension permanently to a group of charities, when I fully retired). I never reached mid-middle class, but had enough money to enjoy 'things'. If I'd kept the pension, we'd now be well-enough-off, but I did not. I had a high degree of patriotism, and with some involvements, I guess I felt I paid back my share, and then some. Of course, many of my 'jobs', or 'employments', or 'deployments', came with considerable perks.
I re-enlisted numerous times, and then retired from Agency Work ....but went back again and again, ...even in my sixties and once in my seventies, sometimes for projects where I had been previously involved. Except for my own businesses, the special projects work varied from intense to very quiet, ....leaving me ...often....with a LOT of time for whatever fun and games came up. Thus, I did a lot of backpacking, racing, playing with motorcycles and sports cars, etc. I also did a lot of modifications to my home. I had a rather intensely busy life at times, and at other times I probably got bored, and I managed to incorporate a lot of various activities to ' fill-in'.
As previously noted, I had moved to Lake Tahoe in late 1972. I began to get involved with the local community. I worked with the Special Olympics kids, with a disabled adults group, cancer survivors, and later with AIDS patients, & as an unpaid 'helper' for the County health department. From 1992 to 1996 I was the Chairman of the Ryan White Consortium for two California County's (ElDorado and Alpine) at the same time. Back then, there were very few willing to do any kind of helping, as AIDS was frightening to many folks, some of whom thought you could get that then-fatal disease by even being in the same neighborhood as someone with the disease. As the Chairman, I got a lot of experience dealing with State, and some County, bureaucrats. Learning how to deal with them added to my repertoire of useful knowledge. At this point I will jump considerably ahead/backwards/sideways in this discussion ...but only for short while here.
My wife (Penny) & I lived at South Lake Tahoe, California, USA, which is about 100 road miles from Sacramento, California & about 60 road miles from Reno, Nevada, until the period of June 2019 to November 2019; during which we slowly moved to Carson City, Nevada. https://bmwmotorcycletech.info/laketahoefacts.htm
I owned several businesses during the time BEFORE I lived at Lake Tahoe, including a BMW motorcycle troubleshooting-traveling-know-it-all under contract to the USA BMW importer. Mostly later, when the USA BMW motorcycle distributorship changed to BMWNA, I had a shop devoted to custom work on BMW motorcycles. Other businesses at various times included a machine shop, an aircraft charter service, & an auto stereo sales/installation store. I still have (only) the original (from when I was 15 y.o.) business ....an electronics repair business and engineering service business. At Lake Tahoe, initially in the early seventies, it was mostly stereo/hi-fi work, but then became mostly musician's electronics; now it is mixed rather equally, with a low percentage being design work. I also occasionally did a bit of instructing for beginners and intermediates on how to use & maintain and deal with security on Windows computers. Up until early 2014 I sometimes repaired computers. Up until Spring of 2019 I was still maintaining a few computers and a network for the Senior Center; but, with the move to Carson City, I'm now only maintaining our own computers, and one friend's, with the quite rare helping otherwise.
For the last 15 years or so I have been "nearly retired" ...and, although I'd like to sell & really retire, it would be difficult to sell a garage-based business, even cheaply (got $15K to $18K?). Sometimes I repair or otherwise work on some really odd items.
If you are getting the idea that I had an intensely busy...and nerdy...and led a sometimes dangerous life, you would be correct. But, as old age crept up on me, & with the coming-about of health problems, I slowed down. A lot.
The motorcycle stuff:
I have been riding and racing sports cars and motorcycles since the mid 1950's. I road-raced (paved tracks) Norton Manx's & Vincent's & BSA's; and some sidecar rigs. I did my share of off-road dirt riding & racing. I set a World Record, in Class A-C-1000, in 1971, at the Bonneville Salt Flats, on my Norton-Vincent. Photos of me racing at Bonneville are in the Photo Galleries on this website. I owned a large number of various motorcycles, nearly all were antiques. I collected basket-cases and restored these bikes. I also, under a couple of pen names, wrote for some popular motorcycling/motorcycles magazines, and had access-to and test-rode many of their test bikes. I was, variously, a Wrench, Driver, and Monkey for sidecar racing. I was the chief technician for a BMW Motorcycle dealership (back when the /5 and early /6 were still being sold new) & I free-lanced as a trouble-shooter for other BMW dealerships; and, had a special arrangement with the BMW motorcycle importer...with the later BMW (BMW-NA) folks even offering me a new Oilhead at a very favorable price . Around 1999 I decided to get back into sidecars, after being away from racing them for a long time. This time it was for personal street driving, not racing. My prior sidecar experience had been only on paved & dirt racetracks, & some off-road racing.
I am a recognized authority ...whatever that means ...on BMW Airhead motorcycles that were manufactured from the end of 1969 to 1995. Yes, I worked on earlier BMW bikes, but I don't consider myself any sort of guru on them, and my memory of the work has faded. I have a website, this verbose piece is on it, devoted to maintaining & repairing BMW motorcycles, ~85% of the site is devoted to BMW Airheads. I also included some information and links for Oilheads, Classic K bikes (K1, K100, K75, K1100), and Sidecar rigs. I have stopped adding articles and any information (for the most part) on models other than the Airheads.
I built a BMW R100RT-Ural sidecar rig in 2000; later sold it, and then had a K1100LT-EML GT2 rig I purchased (that I then considerably modified to my particular tastes). I've built sidecar rigs for others, and I have built rigs for track racing. I have owned a fair number of Airheads; the last of which was a 1995 R100RT...which I am sorry I had to sell. I have around 850,000 miles on street bikes (I never kept track of racing & dirt riding miles) & have passed the 650,000 mark on BMW motorcycles. I had the BMW factory roundel badges for 100K, 200K, 300K, 400K, 500K and 600K ....I left most of them on the sidecar rig when I sold it, and think the 600K was left on the RT; keeping only my memories...and photos. I'm not putting on recorded miles at all since mid-2019. I am now a super-senior with flabby muscles and insufficient muscle mass over-all; and, dealing with a heavy (to me) motorcycle is not a lot of fun ...until under way. I used to ....up until not all that long ago, ....do some very spirited tire sliding riding, mostly for my tire testing article (in this website, ....an early version was printed in a magazine). I gave up dirt riding towards the end of 2019.
I have been a rated pilot since 1961 (rated Commercial; Instruments; Instructor; Single and Multi-engine; Seaplanes; plus various "Type" ratings). Some of my flying as pilot-in-command was when I was in Government employment.
What might be confusing to you is how I managed to pack so many things into my life. Besides being on my own at age 14-1/2; the biggest reason is that I had a huge amount of time-off; or, better said, time between new projects AND between my portions of projects. Many a project lasted 6 months to a year and a half, and my portion might be just weeks here and there. Generally I was being paid all the time I was signed-up for any particular project. I spent most of my money on things....and at great restaurants...but I mostly cooked for myself at home, or for my wife and I.
I occasionally get 'inquiries', usually from fellow Airhead riders, about who I am ...or, some comments about my having 'done everything'. Now you know how I did so much.....but.... sometimes I answer, if I take the bait at all, by posting from my files a bit of nonsense. Just so that you can read THAT, it is the first thing below:
< I am new to the Airheads LIST, who is "Snowbum"? Is he kind of like "Bigfoot"? Has anyone ever seen him or is he just folklore? >
"""The reports of Snowbum being an imagined character might be true, as a female friend often referred to him as Yeti. Both imagination, & existence, are not necessarily in conflict! BUT ...he really exists, ...at least part-time! There are seemingly creditable witness reports of his being seen at TechDays. Reports of sightings have been received from airheads (small a) at gatherings of various strange folk; bike & sidecar rallies, various technical seminars, & motorcycle races. Rumors are that he uses pen names for articles regularly in some magazines, and has been seen at unclothed social gatherings, definitely a frightening thought."
Purported images of Snowbum, even using his real given name, can be found as far back as the 1950's, in several motorcycling magazines; in some electronics magazines with articles supposedly written by him; in old articles in BMW Motorcycle Owners News magazines; in Instrument and Control Systems Magazine, & in some government publications ...a few of them marked Secret, or, some-such. As far as certain Government Agencies, and, for most military inquiries concerned, he has never existed. There are some Countries where he is not welcome. There is a Country where his photograph and made-up report of why he was there, helping THEIR military, is in a publication. Hopefully long forgotten, as surrounding Country's governments, at the time, maybe even now, would have liked to have dealt unpleasantly with him.
An image can be found in the October 1999 issue of "AIRMAIL", a publication of the Airheads Beemer Club, perhaps airbrushed into the middle of a photograph of Bob Clement & Matt Parkhouse, who really do exist. A likeness was also published on the cover of an issue of AIRMAIL in 2001, obviously an ethereal appearance, as even the motorcycle he was next-to seems not to be a /6 model as was described ...perhaps the Editor was confused (not impossible nor improbable). Rumors of an ACTUAL picture of Snowbum being in the June 2003 issue of AIRMAIL, wearing some sort of furred animal on his head, seems outlandish to contemplate. Perhaps the picture, supposedly taken at a BMW motorcycle TechDay was doctored, but it appears on page 7.
You can also check AIRMAIL, for a photo purported to be Snowbum with Matt Parkhouse in the July 2008 issue & in BMW MOA in 2008 as well. There are supposedly images of Snowbum in some Calendars (that are likely thrown away after a few months of disgust).
Occasional, always out-of-focus photographs (Snowbum admits to being out of focus occasionally in some of his younger years) are to be found in existentialistic publications & it is said one may find his byline in science fiction publications from many years ago.
Mention of "The Bum", or using his real name, & sometimes just Flash or The Flash, are to be found in texts, tabloids, car & motorcycle race books, etc., from the 1950's, 1960's; and 1970's ....and many ...in more modern publications. Before he coined the name Snowbum for himself in the late 1990's while already a long time resident of Lake Tahoe, he sometimes used his real name. Quite a few motorcycling magazines in late 1971, & some in 1972, have pictures & comments by others about his exploits on his Norton-Vincent while racing at the Bonneville Salt Flats ...and other places. There are even earlier magazine articles about dirt bike racing, sidecar track racing, & closed course paved track racing (Willow Springs, etc.). Snowbum's BMW website, https://bmwmotorcycletech.info, contains a number of Photo Gallery Pages.
Snowbum is said to use two pen names when authoring articles in various magazines. In the BMW club's magazines, & some other publications, he used his real name; and/or, just Snowbum. Photos of Snowbum in his white leather racing suit, sitting aboard or standing next to his Vincent race bike at the Bonneville Salt Flats, are found in the website you are reading this on, in the photo galleries.
In my alter-ego third person mode:
Snowbum has been trying to phase out his past, and go to his future by experiencing new things. This pleases many, and annoys many ...at the very same time.
He sold many of his Airhead and other motorcycle parts and tools ...and, finally decided to stop racing, all this happening at a garage sale in August 2017. Also sold was his white leather racing suit (actually, his wife, Penny sold it while his back was turned ...another wee story). The white leather racing suit will probably be nailed to a wall in someone's man-cave (with a dart board target in the center?). Selling it signified the end of an era for Snowbum ('twas like Samson and his hair) ....and; pleased Penny, who had long pushed him to sell it, amongst other things not or seldom used. Minimalist Penny made the sale to some unknown street walker (actually, a young neighbor who was probably thrilled to even touch the garment). This was likely Penny's way of prompting Snowbum to sell things, retire, and spend more time being socially more acceptable (to her, with her, for her, etc). It only partially worked ...that took almost 3 more years; and, I am still not 100% retired...I still average an hour or three or four hours, every day.
There was what appeared to be an authentic image of Snowbum from an earlier time, in a framed photograph on the wall of the Hughes Aircraft Company in Culver City, & then it "somehow" was moved to a wall at the Hughes Laboratories in Malibu, California. Perhaps fellow employees needed a dart board. The photo seems to be showing a frazzled overworked underpaid junior engineer type (see the tousl'd hair & the pencil protector in my ...ooops ...HIS ...shirt pocket) standing next to a Purported Mr. Hughes & a Twin-Beech aircraft .....it has been said that they both vomited immediately before AND AFTER the experience ..... Hughes from the association implied, Snowbum from the 'flight'. Rolling in Hell .....was how Snowbum described that day. Snowbum has said that he never asked Mr. Purported about his design of a special Bra, or was it a Bra-Cup?.... for a certain well-known actress, Jane Russell. Suffice it to say that the experience of the flight, let alone the project, made Snowbum's own cup runneth over, and he did not need another, unless nicely filled. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jane_Russell
For a certain company, Snowbum's engineering group had a 'project' for "The Government" (you may guess who was the junior engineer AND the primary tester) to test a project in the waters off one of the Channel Islands ...Snowbum won't say much more ...other than he learned to pilot & navigate a rented boat ...& learned how to scuba-dive to pretty good depths using Navy-provided diving equipment.
Mis-using a statement by Mark Twain, reports of Snowbum's existence(s) were greatly exaggerated. Various "sightings" as YETI are questionable.
Verbose postings ascribed as being from Da Bum ...or Snowbum ...to the Airheads LIST or Kbmw or SCT Groups, etc., Facebook, etc., should always be taken with exhausting skepticism; or, at least some salts ...which may have the same results.
Snowbum's mottos/sayings/other nonsense, are:
To HELL with whether the glass is half empty ...or half full ...refill my glass! Which is pretty crazy, considering that he drinks very little alcohol ...never did much, contrary to many who think otherwise. All excepting one 'interesting' experience the day after he received a certain emblem/insignia (an exceptional, but long, story). The 'bum has promoted that he likes good booze ...maybe to better get freebies of cask strength Scotch? ....and a good Cuban cigar?...a few examples of either being a good thing.
Student of secret arcane disciplines.
Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.
Most folks look intelligent.....& then they say something.
Laissez les bons temps rouler.
Assume a virtue, if you have it not (Hamlet).
Amor vincit omnia (love conquers all.....see Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales).
Meum Dictum Pactum [my word is my bond] (except if I am lying).
Mater Artium Necessitas (necessity is the mother of invention).
Docendo Discimus (we learn by teaching).
Die knowing something, you are not here long.
A large number of good tests and inspections/measurements, are more valuable than most opinions based on personal reports. Personal Reports are always suspect ...except Snowbum's, where Reports are always sub-titled "Verbose Essays, the novel".
A fountain of smart may, at times, be better than a fountain of youth.
Snowbum may not have The Answer, but he has an Opinion.
A life spent in making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful, than a life spent in doing nothing.
Dark Porter and Stouts, single malt Scotch, REAL Cuban cigars, and micro-mini-bikini-clad girls ...are proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.
Old age & treachery combined with well-honed experienced skills will always overcome youth & exuberance.
Anecdotal Reports are like candy ....sweet, engaging, the seller always wants you to absorb more .....but may rot something or other.
Brevity is the Soul of someone else's wit.
I care not a whit.
Snowbum has a great hesitancy about engaging in any battle of wits with un-armed opponents.
Words to live by: Snowbum's brother sent him this paragraph .....maybe he was fed up with his brother's verbosity:""Promulgate esoteric cogitations ...articulating superficial sentimentalities and amicable, philosophical, or psychological observations,,, beware of platitudinous ponderosity. Sedulously avoid all polysyllabic profundity, pompous propensity, psittaceous vacuity, ventriloquial verbosity and vaniloquent vapidity. Let communications demonstrate clarified conciseness, compact comprehensibleness, without coalescent conglomerations of preciose garrulity, jejune bafflement, and asinine affectations. Let our extemporaneous verbal evaporations & expatiations have lucidity, intelligibility, and veracious vivacity, without rodomontade or Thespian bombast. Shun double-entendre, obnoxious jocosity & pestiferous profanity, observable or apparent.
Your brief/short computer's dictionary may not understand some of those words. Maybe my brother is MORE nerdy than me (I? me?).
At this point, you are probably on the verge of doing something or other, so you may want to stop here. On the other hand, if you prefer more torture, read on .....but, you've been warned...
Snowbum's full (?) Bio (not overly full, I'm not dead yet):
What follows is NOT always in chronological order, in fact it flits back & forth with dates ....& rambles considerably. This goes right along with my method of thinking ...& how it rolled back into memory. I am too lazy to fix all of this rambling and chronological stuff at one time, although I do look at it once in a while and do a few clarifications. Some few facts/details have been warped & twisted some, maybe to my benefit, maybe not; but mostly for reasons of protecting some living folks; and, who knows, maybe to massage my memories and/or ego ...OR ....keep me out of trouble with various Authorities. There are a number of different photo galleries available from the HomePage on this website, scan way down that homepage to the tables area listing the presently seven photo galleries. I invite you to look at them. They may give you some ideas about who I am/was/knew/ and ...folks and things ...I played with. You may find these photos interesting, or at least thought-provoking. I have had a very strange life, jam-packed with various adventures; and I started EARLY in this regards.
I grew up in Los Angeles with greasy hands from a quite early age playing with most anything mechanical & electrical. I had 'Black' friends from an early age; even though my own childhood neighborhood was lilly-white. I had one of those Little Red Wagons that many young kids had. I put a model airplane engine on it, dangerously. My dad made me put a chicken-wire fence around the engine; the engine's propeller could have taken off my finger. I hurt my finger more than once when starting that engine, which had two speeds, OFF & Wide-Open-Throttle.
From about age four I wore eyeglasses. Weak left eye & far-sighted in both. Wearing glasses does not help with social interactions with other youngsters. I struck back, sometimes with enough anger to be considered vicious. They deserved it. They got the message, ....it did not make them friends.
My parents, wanting me to be a well-rounded child ...or, maybe it was their reading of too many books on how to raise children (I was their firstborn) ....had me take piano lessons ....and attempted to enroll me in religious training. They selected Jewish. I hated religious training & took every opportunity to either visit a nearby Christian Church & attempt to repair their ancient pipe organ (a complete story in itself) ...or, I was just blocks away from there, making great friends with a 'Negro man', who had a wonderful philosophy of life, many experiences, & who owned & ran a junkyard & lived with his family in a house in front of that fenced junkyard. The junkyard happened to be FULL of VERY interesting mechanical & electrical things. He was a Jack-Of-All-Trades, a man to learn from. I cherished the friendship. I ate lunch with his family on many Saturdays when I should have been down the street getting religion-ized. His family included a stunningly attractive daughter. My crush on his daughter ended when she found someone much more interesting than I was. ....maybe it was the fact that he was older, a school jock ....and I was just a few years into being a teenager, shy and also scrawny ...at that time. The experience coincided with my voice deepening, fun inner feelings, and I joined an old-fashioned 'gym', and began to bulk-up, ...some, anyway. It was later that I started growing-up fast ....and, met Eartha. I was ever and always, breaking and meddling ...or shocking folks. I hated bigots and racists, and dealt with them "in-your-face". https://bmwmotorcycletech.info/photogallery5.htm
As I got into my mid and later teens I had nicknames besides Bob; was sometimes called Flash ...or The Flash, coming from my last name early-on ....& later, from my racing (cars, bikes, sidecar rigs, sports cars, etc....). Four-eyes occasionally was also my name, usually behind my back.
At an early age I was fascinated by mathematics & all things scientific ...this included reading and trying to write science fiction. This made up somewhat for my lack of social graces; well, it really didn't. But, I certainly was exceptionally precocious up until my college years, when my failure to study hard enough (from previous lazy habits gained because I easily got away with it) finally caught up with me. Perhaps it had something to do with there being quite a few 'smart kids' in college, and I found myself one of the faceless crowd, except for the bushy mustache I had most of the time.
It was still California, ....still the Left Coast ...at least in a some ways. Staying in California would certainly bring calamities upon me, a few said. A friend from my younger days, Dee Jay Sadler, was convinced by his mother & her friends that California would slide into the sea upon the next earthquake. They moved out of California. My house never slid anyplace. Not the house I eventually purchased in Mar Vista (West side of L.A., towards Venice, closer to Winklemann's BMW), nor, much later, my house at Lake Tahoe. I usually inform folks (that tell me about California Earthquakes) that my house has not fallen into itself from any earthquake, war, hurricane or tornado. Drive-by shoot-m-ups were hardly memorable, in fact I don't remember any such. I will admit to riding my bike to work carrying a large revolver prominently displayed on my hip, during and immediately after the 1965 Watts Riots .....I then worked at Stoddart Electro Systems in Gardena, California, and passed through the Watts area regularly on my motorcycle. I had started working for that company when it was located at its original site in Hollywood, when it was known as Stoddart Aircraft Radio Company. When I eventually left the company I was a Staff Electronics Design Engineer. BTW ...Hollywood wasn't mostly all gay then either. I had some close gay friends though; still do.Here is basic information on that company: http://online.sfsu.edu/hl/src.html Notice in that article: VLF spy radio, Model 289-1. On that page, scan way down to the very bottom, & the first References item has MY name in it. For the magazine referenced and the patent, I did all the work, including some engineering work, all the testing & sketches & writing ........unfortunately, the do-not-do-much bosses got credits too. While most of that Stoddart article is about radio items before my time with them, I was with them for many years, totally two periods of employment. So, yes, I was involved with the 'spy' radio in the article, the 289-1, although that was not my personal project for which I am known in some circles. That 'spy radio', the 289-1, was for use by/for submarines for communications from deep water, and operated at low (sonic) frequencies. Yes, you can transmit and receive frequencies that, if presented into a loudspeaker, you would hear. It was during my long time with this company that I started doing ever more serious types of Agency Work; and that I was with an Agency was usually known only to two top level people within any Company. I worked at the Hollywood location (driving either one of my motorcycles or my Porsche 550RS1500 to work daily); and, later, when the company moved to Gardena, I worked there, as a full Project Engineer. It was a very interesting and heady time for me.
Ah, California, land of Sunshine, City Traffic, Freeways, Leftists, Hippies, Beatniks, smart folks, not so smart folks, and everything from poverty and poor migrants to extreme wealth. Thousands of miles of 'motorcyclists roads'. Beaches. Well-tanned and toned bodies. Forget Hollywood, it was nearly all fake, including the people. There WERE some REAL folks in the Hollywood-ers though. I knew, and rode-with, a few.
I was living in an increasingly nasty sewer called Los Angeles ...but, then, after 35 years, something triggered an epiphany! I suddenly got smart enough (??) to give up a terrific job .....it had been good paying, had really good perks, and the owners were REALLY NICE .....and ...I had reached the position I always dreamed-of since maybe age 13 or 14, as Chief Engineer. That company was Linear Corp. I could have had a multi-decade career with them, I guess.
...SO....I gave up Los Angeles (and my 72 Corvette) & moved to God's Country, Lake Tahoe, where one has mountains, streams, lakes, ... & several seasons (the seasons are Winter, Summer Construction time, less visitors time, then Winter). We had squawking Stellar Jays, who appreciated the morning peanuts I provided. Many types of birds visited my yard. In 2007 I trained a Jay to eat peanuts out of my hand; could do it again if I still had the patience; but birds are discouraged where I live now. No raccoons to be seen now where I live in Carson City ....perhaps they have 'passed the word' about my liking for 'coon hats'. There were sometimes Song-Dogs roaming the streets and yards when I lived at Tahoe. I would hear them howling ....before they got someone's cat (they got one of mine) or small dog for their dinner. I saw a large California black bear (they are usually cinnamon brown in color) in the street in front of my house in October 2005 ....and a smaller one climbed over my shed and fence in late 2006 ....and there was a monstrous-sized one in mid-2007 outside my driveway. In late 2014 one approaching 600 pounds was captured on camera literally steps from my home. Simply unusually HUGE. It was shown in the local newspaper. Bear sightings near my house happened several times every year. They eat trash from folks who fail to keep their trash away from the bears ...thus, the bears are extremely large, & some don't even hibernate any more. A few misguided folks deliberately feed the bears. That promotes bear break-ins. I never fed or allowed my trash to feed bears, but some were seen, and captured by my camera, in my yard, eating cherries from my one and only cherry tree.
I could not see nor hear any freeways from anyplace near my Tahoe home. We did not have freeways there. The Lake Tahoe region does have, sometimes, heavy traffic ...such as at New Years, MLK, or Presidents weekends. The 4th of July traffic is abominable. Most of the car traffic was from visiting hordes of juveniles, ......many of which are in adult form.
We had wildlife in 4 legged form too; and, many interesting birds, even eagles.
We had little fog, not much rain, very little smog. We had snow, typically with long stretches of sunshine between Winter storms. Tahoe has become more touristy, less 'local', less 'personal', but is still a wonderful place to live, God's Country ... in particular when not in Tourist Season. The Tourists are necessary, they are what supports the community. I loved Tahoe, but wifey wanted to live in less snowy country (and where her aging husband would no longer be climbing onto second-story roofs for cleaning, gutters work, etc.....more on all that, later, herein).
OK, backtracking to my before-Tahoe time:
One of my mother's two brothers (an uncle, for those of you who are relationships-challenged), was a trumpeter with the Stan Kenton band. I received some advice from him on how to meet & play (piano) with jazz greats, not-so-greats & more importantly (?) ... meet some of the women...and men ... hanging around them. I actually did play piano with some of them (the musician's, not the women, we had other things for them and us to play with). I early-on dropped any pretense at trying to play clarinet or trumpet, finding them lousy at chords. I spent a lot of underage time in jazz joints (the California-style milder version of honky-tonks & RedNeck Bars), & also occasionally hung out with Chuck Yeager type folks in the Edwards Airbase (Muroc) area. Interestingly, at that time I WAS NOT MUCH INTERESTED in airplanes. For an idea of what those days of Flo (Pancho) Barnes were like, do a SEARCH on Bing, DuckDuck or Google for "Pancho Barnes". There are a number of articles, & the URL's tend to change rather often for Edwards, so a fresh search is better than me listing a URL here. Most bio information on Pancho covers more of the era before I hung out with those guys. I sure had a strange life for someone in his early teen years ....and even later.
My Jr. High School (do you remember when Middle School+ had that name?) had a real honest-to-gosh metal-working shop class, with a lathe, mill, welding equipment, etc. I LOVED THAT CLASS, ...and successfully became the teacher's pet. As the only pet, I received privileges, such as being able to use the more dangerous machinery. I loved SHOP! By the time I entered High School I could reasonably competently use a lathe, a mill, oxy-acet torch, etc. I had a car at 14-1/2, that I hot-rodded, so that shop class came in handy.
I went to University High School located in West Los Angeles, known as an innovative teacher's training school. NO shop classes. I managed to get included in a experimental program that allowed sophomore's & seniors to attend UCLA part-time. I took every possible advantage of this; really pushing the limits of what the test-program was supposed to allow. This program was for 'gifted students'. HAH! I am not at all sure I was truly gifted ...I probably just knew much more, especially technical things, at an early age. Very few students, nor anyone else, knew about this program. The program enabled me to greatly speed-up the road to a BSEE, and eventually a MSEE.
I was barely into high school when I met a nearly middle-aged ...married, but separated from her doctor-husband, ...lady astrologer at Muscle Beach, located at Venice, a small city west of Los Angeles. I was the bleached-blond long-haired LifeGuard. She taught Astrology (yes, really!) at UCLA, & was a help to me in my obtaining and misuse of the gifted-high-schooler's-attending-UCLA-programs (my words). She put in a good word for me; and, probably pulled some strings. On the other hand, she extracted her price, at least for awhile, & she soon made it clear that she wanted me for a 'housepet'; which I managed to continually put off, but eventually succumbed (and, I guess, reasonably happily-so ...for awhile). I met some very strange folks through her, and when Astrology was the subject I kept my mouth shut, as I had absolutely zero belief in it and was not at all interested. I have mixed memories for that time. One memory in particular, was when, together, we ran into her ex-husband at a party, and I got even more of an 'education' .....he certainly filled me in about her, and he and I became rather decent friends! I think he was secretly rather happy that I was keeping her happy, and thereby she was much less a bother to him. I learned a lot from him, over a few lunches.
Well....jumping ahead a LOT of years (60 years?):
Here is a photo taken in August of 2011, I am nearly 74 years old & wearing one of my old letter jackets from High School. It still fits and I still have it. Yes, those are strawberry plants behind my left arm, this is in front of my house at Tahoe. That front fence is now gone. Yes, that is an earring in my right ear.
Before I graduated from High School, I had a substantial number of college courses already completed, and attending more, at UCLA. BUT...to my chagrin ...(& a few other things)...I found that I was surely NOT the ONLY precocious High Schooler at UCLA. I also found out that College Girls 'do not date high school boys'. SO ...I dated girls from Beverly Hills High School, once even dating sisters who both lived at home with their parents. One of these sisters was older, in college. I soon found out why it was insanely stupid to date two sisters, especially and particularly when they were living in the same house; and double-insanity as they lived with their parents. I still wonder what became of Harriet, the younger sister. Probably long married & with 3 grown kids, several grandkids, & a large mortgage with some lawyer-husband. I once showed off my motorcycling skills at Harriet's parent's home, by sliding into a pile of maple leaves at the curb, on my thumb, on my BSA B-33. OUCH! My thumb bled some for several days and hurt for a couple of MONTHS.
Backtracking more: I starting working part time before my teen years....mostly neighborhood things; but, in my EARLY teens I managed to get paid reasonably decent money for working for others. I saved money I earned from mostly manual labor (including toting all sorts of things in an uncle's wholesale paper business after school hours). In my mid-teens I bought a small ...retail sales & repairs electronics store. I sold little in the beginning, but did a lot of repairs, in a ~300 or 400 square foot repair center, at the corner of a mostly residential district, corner of Bentley Ave., that abutted a major street, Pico Blvd, this was a block away from Sepulveda Blvd, in West Los Angeles, for those of you that know West Los Angeles. As the repair business grew enough so that I almost couldn't do it all myself early in the mornings & after school hours & on weekends, especially considering my school work, RCA advertised that they would soon have a mass-produced color TV for sale. I lied my way into receiving a small shipment, & thus was the first dealer in L.A. I sold a fair number of TV's over a period of time. I also hired a part time go-fer & helper, so I learned, the hard way, about wages, taxes, ...and bookeeping.
These unreliable (compared to modern TV's) 21 inch color sets sold for $800, a HUGE amount of money in the fifties. I became quite a good TV technician (even going to RCA's color TV repair school). I learned a lot at that short 'school', and it was hardly all about TV's and other electronics. I was also much younger than everyone else there, which was especially interesting. 'nough said.
It was not long before Motorola announced a honest-to-gosh transistor portable radio. I purchased many dozens and sold them quickly. With the TV & radio sales; my thinking changed. I began to think about RETAIL PROFITS! I think that The Prophets had some things to say about Profits, or was it the reverse? I managed to save most of the profits and invested them. AH...PROFITS! My viewpoint on life changed a bit. I learned about banking, stock market, investing, etc.
Up until the TV and transistor radio sales point, my real interest in my wee little store was doing repairs. Repairing things has been a lifelong thing ...still is. But, my imagination grew considerably. My brain may have swelled a tad; or I was just thinking ahead; probably both. It was also around that time that I began to look into other things, and delved into philosophy (particularly classical liberalism, libertarianism, and conservatism....isms, isms, isms). I went far beyond what had been, or would be, taught in college ...although I fondly remember a History of Civilizations course. I think a lifelong interest in Buddhism and deep thinking grew considerably during this time.
Needing an inexpensive black & white TV product line to sell, I took on Muntz TV's, after playing with my parents Muntz Black & White TV (& trying to make a CBS-type motorized color wheel for it). Mad Man Muntz. 4 Track Players, 8 Track Players. Muntz Ranch with homemade apple hooch by the gallon in the mountains near L.A. ...Muntz Lake, near Hughes Lake. SHEEESH ...the memories ...my friend Ed and I once drove up there, his 51 Ford ...(or was it my 49 Ford??) ...and bought two gallons. Finished one on the way home. Got sick.
There was a small older house next-to and attached, to my store. My neighbor made me an offer I could not refuse, and I purchased that property....and, thereby purchased the property my little store sat on. I expanded into the attached (probably illegally joined) house which I quickly remodeled into an extension to my store. I fixed the kitchen portion and another portion of that house ...so it was sort-of walled-off from the business, and I could live there!
Within a few years, after having made my wallet bulge a bit more than its usual thinness, paying off the house too, I sold that business and property. I had developed other interests & there was the strong possibility of being drafted into the Army, etc. I invested some of the profits into stock of the Zenith company, a very well-known name back then (later, absorbed into LG electronics, etc). I also invested in commercial real estate ...yes, at that early age.
Backtracking ...to earlier high school days:
My uncle (my father's brother), of wholesale paper company & Pacific Ocean Park Amusement Pier fame (he was general manager) .... guess I won't say too much about the Santa Monica Amusement Park and Pier ....well, l guess maybe to just mention that I had after-hours keys when in High School. He gave me instructions on investing in real estate. We eventually did this together, & sometimes with other family members. By the time I was hardly out of high school I owned a modest part of a small 4 unit apartment building at 327 South Union Street in Los Angeles, not all that far from City Hall. Well, I owned the "paper" part that ascribed our co-ownership of the property ...but was really Government owned via the HUD loan to us. Until it was paid off. This was my first experience with intricate financing of real-estate, mortgages, etc. I studied some about how banks made money providing loans, & how slow & steady interest payments to them could make bankers rich, over time. In fact, I studied such things as how money was actually created out of thin air by banks making loans ...even today I am amused (and more) by the FED, etc. I planned to beat them (or, use their methods ABP) at their own game. I learned about HUD properties & Government financing. I learned a lot. My uncle was a no-nonsense guy, who was only too happy to tell me anything & everything I had questions about, regarding business, taxes, government, etc. It was real practical learning from someone who had more than a bit of experience, loads of cynicism ......and, passed-on sufficient attitude to make me want to continue to learn. When I had been working for this uncle while in High School I was gaining knowledge & cynicism at an early age. I learned how to deal with politicos/bureaucrats, even clerks, in a way that made them do things that I wanted them to do. I got fairly good at this later in life when I became adept in 'allowing' such folks to think THEY made the decisions on things. The learning did NOT make me wiser ...or, did it? Smarter, maybe, which is not necessarily wiser? I found that with enough pondering about any given problem or situation, I could control it ....and ...'them'. There is also nothing like the occasional failure at these sort of things to make one have second (and third) thoughts about getting better at it....humbling thoughts.
Before I graduated from high school I was already nearly through my 2nd year of college. In high school I was hardly a campus socialite, & especially not some sort of Jock, although I did force myself to get two school letters. I lived in a wonderful big old house in Los Angeles at 1740 South Rimpau Street, with two roommates, Marion Allen & Dee Jay Sadler. I was about to enter college....and did. Strange trio we were. This rambling old house, with its tiny garage and large backyard of ancient fruiting trees, was in a previously upscale WASP (White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant) neighborhood of L.A., that was, when we lived there, occupied by what we now call Blacks, ...or, today, ...African-Americans. I had a past history of black friends, and even had a black girlfriend ...., and with ease I became a 'member' of their neighborhood, making a point of socializing with them, going to & playing piano in one of their clubs, the Black Orchid (aka, The Orchid Room). I even dated a couple of the local girls & danced with them when not playing the piano, at that & another Club. I also later frequented Redd Foxx's Foxhole. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Redd_Foxx, but there is not much about his Club in that article.
It was, in nearly every white circle, scandalous to date a black girl. For me, it was not the first time (refer back to the Negro family and junkyard owners daughter, much earlier in this verbose piece). However, interracial dating and marriage has been going on for a very long time, and those folks had their own tight circles. This was particularly so on the West Coast; although pretty well hidden from the general white population. In every way, well almost, this was NOT like it would have been in the Deep South. I was having loads of fun, & did not much care, still don't, about what people think, or one supposed they thought (I have found that in most instances people do NOT think nor have rational thinking, well, not all that much). I also, perhaps, loved to startle people. Sometimes I think I had more than a trace of 'look at me' ...or .....'UP YOURS'!
I generally had made it a point to be highly restrictive in who I dated. I kept to this for a very long period of time; until I 'learned'. But, in those early days, there were strict requirements set down by me: I only dated female humans with two legs, prominent perky boobs, ...& 'an attitude'. I broadened & modified these seriously detailed requirements later in life to include intelligence, Class A-minor personalities, and sometimes worldliness. I was less restrictive in my choice of male friends .....which meant I had a number of hard-learned lessons thrust upon me...at times.
As I had a fair amount of experience with some parts of black west coast society early-on ...starting when I was so friendly with my junkyard-owner friend & his daughter when I was an early teenager, I managed to greatly enjoy my life at the Rimpau house & I still have nothing but the best memories of that time. As noted, I managed to play piano and even dance now & then at The Orchid. I often played jazz on the piano there. I was almost always the only white guy in there, .....I was still under-age; but got my beer anyway. I 'was accepted', and knew everyone in the place eventually on a first name basis. I cannot over-emphasize what a wonderful life I had then & I look back very fondly on those times. My lifestyle and experiences have greatly influenced me, & I have always had an interest in other cultures/races; all over the world; ...especially foods ...some of which I have tried to duplicate in my own kitchen.
I have especially fond memories of one weekend, in another place I later lived at, when I asked the local police for a favor. They obliged. They closed off my street except for residents .....& I roasted a huge pig in a huge barbecue that I had welded together. The barbecue was held in the middle of the street, on a couple of pickup truck loads of sand on top of a monster City-Services steel plate ...which friends who worked for the City delivered! The Party was for the 1 long block neighborhood (and a wee bit surrounding). The neighbors, who had been notified weeks ahead of time, brought 'fixins' ...and beer. Things went great, & even greater after the keg was nearly finished ....helped along by one friend who provided a rather large quantity of Pot for all to smoke. I had a stereo system plugged into the house, speakers in the street, and only the best jazz and dance music was played. Later that afternoon, and well into late evening, I had turned off the speakers, and some jazz musicians I knew played. The Street Party went on for quite awhile. That Party cemented a lot of friendships for me.
Well into the fifties I spent a considerable period of time riding motorcycles with what was then ...heck, maybe still, now, ...called an 'outlaw motorcycle club' ....the Satan's Boys. We were hardly as nasty as the name implies; although we did, rarely though, have joint rides with the Galloping Gooses; who were, or could be, unpleasant for unpleasantness' sake. One of my last events with the Satan's Boys was at the 1957 Catalina Grand Prix Race. Decades later I found out that some of the guys I knew from those m/c years were still hanging out at a disreputable place in L.A. .....I have thought of visiting some time, but never have, mostly because I dislike being in Los Angeles. I doubt I will, even if visiting my brother in Los Angeles. ....I've dropped all of them ...& 'that scene'. They've also dropped me. Except for one guy, Phil Pszenny, who found me and contacted me in early 2011 and furnished the mentioned information. Phil and I still stay in touch. Old time remembrances aplenty! Way back in the fifties, I had a roommate, a member of my Club, nick-named "Rooster". My gal-friend "Corky" lived in the tree house 'apartment' at the front of our apartment complex. A photo of my jacket/colors is in the photo gallery on this website ...and below. I hung out at the Coffee House Positano (playing piano for tips). As noted, on rare occasions our Club rode with the Galloping Gooses. Many of my Club, including our president, Tom Young, went to Catalina for that second-to-last-ever Grand Prix. I did not win, but I finished well ahead of the rear of the pack. For those who lived in Los Angeles during this period (are any of you still alive???), you may remember names & places such as Bucky's, Hunter's Lodge, Dopey's Restaurant, A & W on Sepulveda, Johnny O, the Saucy Dog, Sam & Rocky of the G. Gooses, Pardo Beach, etc.
I had three old Harley's at various times. One was a 1949 Knucklehead (NOT a Panhead, yes I know I said 1949) that I put an enormous amount of mileage on, then stored it for some years, & later got a lot of money for that dead-stock totally worn-out bike. I later had one of the first Sportster's, an XLCH. It had ONE white saddlebag. I also had a hopped up an '80'. I have not owned a Harley in MANY decades. I am simply no longer (for decades now!) a Harley type guy, & today too many HD riders are poseurs & groupies (well, truthfully ...there STILL ARE some of the old time guys & gals around ...I think).
Since I did all the mechanical work on just about every vehicle I have ever owned, I managed to get a lot of experience.
Yes...this was MY JACKET, decades old in the photo. This was a custom-made jacket of exceptionally heavy cowhide, lined with three thin layers of wool fabric, one layer in the arms, nice and warm in Winter. I kept it for decades, although did not wear it after the armpits rotted out. I gave it to a teen, long after I moved to Tahoe ....he had lusted mightily after it.
How does a person with a weak left eye pass Civilian, Military, & Agency flying tests? >>>>One memorizes five eye charts! Actually, I compensated during actual flying quite successfully. The eyes were eventually fixed, but that was after the major portion of my flying career had ended.
....but, let me backtrack some here first:
My left eye from toddler time had been considerably weaker than my right eye. I wore glasses from age 4. I had poor depth perception & very poor ability to quickly change focus to estimate distance; hence, I was always lousy at baseball & football, even volley-ball. SO lousy that I never bothered to even memorize the game rules, this is still the situation. I had reasonably usable vision with eyeglasses (considerably less on my left eye) when younger, but my ability to focus quickly as things moved (like balls, coming towards me) was not good & got worse as I got into my senior years, & my eyesight got a bit worse in focusing & handling glare, & eyeglasses did not compensate enough. But, back in my 'formative' years, having something moving towards me & trying to catch it was not my forte & never has been. It was devilish when I tried boxing. On the other hand, wrestling, while I was in school, was a breeze. Even though my eyesight is now very good, my brain, which I have been told cannot be further 'retrained', insists that my 3D perception will remain, forever, only fair.
Big horned-rim glasses also made me look like THE NERD I WAS. I had a few problems, as I was not very big; mostly weighed about 128 early-on in High School. In my early pre-teen & teen years, the Beat Generation years, I hung out at Venice Beach, and I was often in the nearby Ocean Park beach area, where my father & his cousin had an upholstery shop & I was a part-time lifeguard. I met lots of the poets, philosophers, artists, & some assorted low-life's of the day in that area ...Venice Beach to Ocean Park Beach mostly. Later on, I met a lot of the muscle-men who more & more frequented Venice Beach. Try as I did, I never bulked up enough, over-all, to emulate any of them ...except my calves & biceps. I remember one of them telling me something like this: "you gotta funn-ee body, big legs, big arms ...you-been-work'n-out 'N chasing-the gals? ... ". This was undoubtedly a statement, not a question, from him.
I was still in high school when I became friends with some older guys who 'worked out seriously'. I still have my original Membership card, a low number too, in the original West Coast Vic Tanny's Gym that I joined. Vic gave it to me personally. Gym's, THEN, were usually places with smelly locker-rooms, frequented by big hairy muscular guys with smelly feet, & at the center of the always single room gym was always a boxing ring. I loved it! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vic_Tanny. Although that Wikipedia page is accurate-enough, the gym I worked out at was his first on the West Coast, it was located in genteel Santa Monica, and had no fancy mirrored walls, no fancy chairs and carpets, etc. It was not coed, and was mostly populated by serious bodybuilders 'from downtown (L.A., not Santa Monica)'.
There was a totally UNdeserved bad reputation for these early "gyms". They seemed to have a reputation similar to a Pool hall with a beer bar attached. Probably the mainstream culture thought that these folks were beneath them ...or, perhaps, were also secretly afraid of muscular men. I do think the public lumped gyms with pool halls (SOME of those pool halls WERE bad places back then). I think some of the public were actually afraid of men in good physical condition, & hardly understood that these guys were extremely sweet, gentle & kind; yes, a few were very rough looking. No false Machismo here. While they were not afraid of anyone, they also did not have to show off, & most had a very satisfying family life ...wife, kids, house, the usual. They also did NOT take steroids; .... and, thus did NOT fly off the handle suddenly getting aggressive, angry and possibly violent. We did NOT have million dollar a month sports players in those days. Not all that much was known about diet, vitamins, protein foods, etc., let alone the steroids many now use, so the men were generally not as hugely muscular as today's bodybuilders. Their bodies tended to be less fleshy but more lean and defined, particularly compared to modern steroid-consuming types. Some of us hung around Muscle Beach, in Venice, CA (south-most Santa Monica beach area), showing off. Typical Southern California sun & fun. Did not matter, much (??), that "my" lifeguard shack was right at that area. What a coincidence ...my lifeguard shack, lots of scantily-clad girls, ...body builders....hanger's-on guys.....
....and I had an after-hours key to the Pacific Ocean Park Amusement Pier ....which I had used when still in high school, after it closed at night ....& I was bulking up too ....
There was a sort-of-hidden subculture of Gay (then called Queer) body builders. To this day that particular subculture is still hardly known. I had become friendly with a few, and that led to me playing piano now and then (I LOVED the tip jars) at a "queer" bar/club in Santa Monica Canyon, near the ocean. Several became good friends, and I also got introduced to a wider range of the Bohemian lifestyle that was becoming more prominent, and that led into the societal changes of the 60's.
At this point in my Bio, you may be getting the impression that, since an early teenager, I had been associating with various slightly fringe areas of society, and having a lot of fun at it. You'd be correct.
Many years later....in the early 1970's, after moving to Lake Tahoe, I got back into the gym scene again. Gyms now were mostly well-lighted, had no boxing rings, but had interesting machines that would allow exercising separate muscle groups. I worked out fairly seriously for quite some time. I even entered a natural (no steroids) body building contest held at one of Tahoe's casinos every year.
Until about May 2003 I was an almost daily gym rat. In 2003, my PSA rose rather fast, and I was diagnosed with prostate cancer, early stage, lightly aggressive, needing treatment. I chose surgery to remove my prostate. I was cancer free for 15 years after that. Since my teen years I had a tendency, per the family doctor ...to eventually get double inguinal hernias ....I did not want to get that condition to worsen, which would require surgery, so I had always avoided maximum heavy lifting; ....but, the hernia surgery happened anyway, in November 2003. I lived half of the time in Palm Springs back then. The hernias surgery followed my May 2003 prostatectomy which greatly weakened the area, caused two hernias, so I had to get it fixed. The hernia repair surgeon was a long-time Navy Doctor, who I had known from USMC Camp Pendleton, ...then moved to private practice, ....& he did an outstanding job on me. I am now blessed with internal bionic plastic mesh gauze with Gore-Tex backing in two places, & should never have any hernia problems again, no matter how much weight I might want to lift (BUT....my back problems preclude any super heavy lifting, unless lying flat on my back). Doctor said 'better than new'. NOW, as I update this in 2021, I look in the mirror & I DO NOT see new, just old. My discs have degenerated. I am 3-1/2 inches shorter than I was in my teens. I have back pain and stiffness problems. It does not help that I have arthritis creeping in, here & there. That is affecting my piano playing too.
The prostate cancer came back, suddenly, in November 2018. I have had to take certain nasty drugs ever since. The drugs side-effects have given me a fleshy body, no longer anywhere close to 'being in-shape'. The drugs began with Lupron. Casodex was added in 2020. That began to just barely start to fail in mid-2021, and I've exchanged Casodex for God-Awful Price Xtandi (retail $12,000 per MONTH). I am nearing the end of my life. The drugs I take all have their own side-effects. There will be more about this, and, well, everything, towards the end of this long bio.
Long before the cancer recurrence of Nov. 2018, I started aging much more noticeably. The problem with one's body ...& getting older ...is that it takes more & more gym time, & a more & more restrictive diet, to maintain a good-looking and healthy body. Now, the drugs I take make it very difficult, and nearly impossible in my experience, to remain trim and muscular. I am unwilling to devote enough time (let alone diet ...where's my pastries or dark chocolate?). But, I did/do work out a bit. There is a mini gym in the Clubhouse of the 55+ community where I live......and I used the very few machines there until March 2020, when the Covid pandemic had its effects on even being able to use any gym. The gym time & other exercise not only made me look better, but, more importantly, I felt better mentally & physically, & my cholesterol, blood pressure, etc., was a lot better. I was previously a part-time member of two local gyms at Tahoe & I used to be a member of the 24 Hour gym chain for when I traveled. ...and, where I live now, we have that mentioned tiny mini gym...but, it was closed to us residents until the Governor, Sisolak, of Nevada, allowed it to reopen in June of 2021. So, I presently get my exercise by using those few Clubhouse machines, walking, riding my bicycle, etc. I do not get enough exercise, and, to me, I look very fleshy and my previous trim and muscular 151# is now fleshy and hit 165#, but I've worked it out (pun intended) and by mostly diet, have managed to get to 155, headed for 152.
We received our first and second Covid vaccinations, Moderna brand, in January-February of 2021. I managed to get a third shot of Moderna, in August 2021.
Well, a bit of old history:
In my early late teens+ gym days I managed to develop my body some ...& nearly every Member of that old Vic Tanny's gym seemed to act as my friend & coach. In particular I concentrated on gaining bulging biceps, no matter that some of the Members said not to get unbalanced (I did not properly work my whole body ...I was vastly more into ego biceps and calves ...and running). Even when away from the gym, and working in my uncle's wholesale paper business warehouse, I made a point to carefully lift the heavy paper rolls in the warehouse when loading the trucks, etc., and thereby gain some muscle. Due to my track-running, my calves, already nicely muscled, also became pretty large ...but, my biceps became really quite large for my over-all size. They are not, now, decades later. But, back then, I was not proportionate; my chest was small although it became larger later, particularly when I changed from short runs (like the 220m) to much longer ones & started using later type gym machines ...but, it was years later before I started gaining any sort of chest size. But, the bulging biceps ..and they really did bulge a lot ....had some effect. This was especially so when wearing tight boys sizes of T-shirts, the type we now call Muscle-T's, with names of gyms or boxing places on them. The girls....and guys.... liked the biceps ...and the more they liked them ...the more I worked on making them bigger. Imagine a young guy, with fairly substantial biceps in late High School ....and now in/out of college, with huge biceps, 5'10+", having a 28 inch waist, quite large calves ....and, unfortunately, a chest only in the high thirties ...wearing a sleeveless too-small-for-him T-shirt. The only time I was more proportionate was when I was on active duty, had access to other gyms, and reached 178 pounds of nastiness. ....gone, gone, gone now ....given it up, too much to slothness ....and Lupron and other medicines. I probably have a zero testosterone level. I HATE those drugs side-effects.
How I got into flying is another long story; it will be vastly shortened here. I did not become a pilot until the end of the fifties. My eyesight was OK for flying as a civilian pilot, but restricted to having to wear corrective eyeglasses. Later I flew for the Government in various capacities, unmentionable, with rules that said NO corrective lenses. I memorized all 5 of the eye charts for my military flying tests. I wore military-style dark glasses when on duty ....no one asked if they were Rx ....and they helped me to pass the eye exams. The Agencies never asked for me to be tested. I did have to be very careful in my flying, due to my limited depth perception. I overcame that by training. I really did became quite a good pilot; good enough to get advanced instructor's ratings (....& began collecting civilian licenses & certifications, NONE of which were EVER, upon private advice, disclosed to the military). The military dislikes potential pilots knowing anything about flying. I tackled flying the same way I usually tackled new skills, pushing to be perfect.
Many decades later ...Summer of 2007 ...I found that my left eyesight had deteriorated enough over the years & now was just barely good enough to pass the Civilian FAA Commercial Pilot physical examination ....so I had my left eye's lens removed & an artificial one installed. My vision improved VERY markedly. The same surgery was done soon after on my right eye, also for the same cataracts reason. I still need eyeglasses for close-up work (I had my implanted lenses focused for distance vision). I still wear eyeglasses all the time, having them optimized for most all distances ...the main reason is that eyeglasses keep atmospheric dust & dirt mostly out of my sensitive eyeballs.
I did not handle swimming very well. I eventually managed to do OK in a swimming pool. Surfed some too. Was even a lifeguard at Santa Monica/Venice beaches in those previously mentioned Muscle Beach days, a long story in itself ....and I've mentioned a bit of that. I did not do great, just adequate, at the diving lessons I took. I took diving courses twice. Once was at a time I did some secret underwater engineering tests (hinted at in my description of work at Hughes & Stoddart), & the other time was for fun after I moved to Lake Tahoe. I am PADI Certified. Water & I just do not mix well, overall anyway. How did THAT go with being a Marine? Damned if I know. My answer ....if
there is one, ...is that one can do anything, if motivated enough ("listen, you asshole ...you wannabee Marine fuckup/screwup ...you either swim or you drown, & I don't give a damn if you are carrying 70# of gear and you weigh 170"...so, JUMP, dammit, NOW! " .....>>>some got kicked/shoved....").
Below is a photo of what was disparagingly called a Poopette. Read-on, and you will see why POOPette is/was so well-named. This is a French-made Mobylette. One version of which was somehow left at Camp Pendleton & was handed-down, Class to Class, for 'someone' to use ...to sneak off base & get to town. I repaired it to reliable condition, & thus it 'became mine'. I returned late one night, ran it into a Honey Pot (don't ask if you don't know!), ...managed to remove and clean it up ....and I recovered after a long shower and a lot of scrubbing. I passed it on to the next guy that felt he could keep it running. Later, the Mobylette name was distorted in the USA to MOPED ...yes, maybe the first ones here. Very slow, reasonably reliable, very good on fuel. It did not have pedals to get the engine going that you could pedal like a bicycle ....those were on a lighter, lesser, models.
Speaking of The Service:
I was just out of boot camp. My fellow fun-loving-practical-joke-playing-closest-buddies had also ‘just graduated’, & I (who was also one of those fun-loving-practical-joke-playing-closest buddy types), headed for San Diego for a long day & evening (and weekend?) of carousing of every sort. I drank too much, something VERY unusual for me .....& might have been slipped something too, not sure. Lots of stuff happened, but simple short version; not much mentioning the tattoo they tried & did not succeed in getting on a certain body part; is that I woke up in what was obviously a motel or hotel room, but there was no bedding, no towels, no soap, NO NOTHING, including no clothes. I was stark-assed-totally naked. I had on only my dog tags. I woke up to a terrrrrrrible hangover. I looked out the door ...yep, hotel-type self-locking, better stay inside for now (I had NO key) ....the sun was overly-brilliantly (for my headache) shining in the windows. I looked outside through the windows. Some stories down was a beach, nice, very pretty, if terribly glaring and hard on my headache ....with the sun rising. It took me a while to realize that the sun did NOT rise (only set) over beaches in San Diego. I got home by confessing on the room phone to the lobby desk clerk, who arranged for some clothing & a few free phone calls. He got a big tip from me for his help, after I got my parents to wire some money for food, etc, ....then I got on an Air Force plane back to the mainland. It was a bit of fun convincing certain Officers that my story was true. Lots of laughing for awhile...
I got used to the laughing, and finally made-up some of a story, which added to the real story......it got published!
I never could prove who all were behind my 'adventure'; I suspect they all swore secrecy, but I knew who, of course. I never managed to pay them back, so-to-speak. As I updated this short section in November of 2020, two were still alive & I still have contact with them. Just how they pulled it off is still a good question, but I have some ideas. There is just no way I could 'top' what they did to me, so never tried ...much.
I had a lot of fun as a member of the Rifle Team in High School, for which I received my second school letter. My first letter was for Track & I was on my way to a third, for wrestling. The letters honestly meant little to me, I was NOT the type that was really 'heavily into sports & school spirit'. I almost never attended school extracurricular activities. I just never had time to do these things ...I was way too busy with academics & work ....& certainly, later, I never attended any school reunions. I was un-involved & still had a good dose of nerdy-ness & shyness. That I managed to devote enough time to get the letters always surprised me. I also went to college WHILE in High School; which took an enormous amount of my time ...not to mention that I owned a small electronics sales & service business. BUT, the school letters effect on some peers was quite nice. I would have loved to have had the letters in football or baseball. It was comical when I tried out for the football team in my first year ...light weight, small stature, couldn't focus on balls coming or going due to left eye problems...and, kgot knocked-around some.
There are particular reasons I forced myself to do what it took to get the High School letters.
(1) Girls particularly, at least back then, liked guys with letter-jackets.
(2) Advice given to me by a close friend's father, regarding my certain-to-come military service. Some things just look good in a resumé.
I suppose there was a third reason, probably part of reason (1). I got my hands on a letter jacket similar to one of my own, but it had a badly stained & damaged sleeve/arm. I cut both sleeves off & laboriously made the sleeve holes look very short; this was the first time I ever used various sewing needles & thread. I wore that jacket at two high school events and just hanging around, and also when at UCLA, ....my way-over-developed-biceps always bulging nicely. It helped, a bit, with my girl problems ....particularly with the 'more-desirable' buxom ones (you can look up that word).
I particularly liked the High School rifle team, as we had many days at OTHER schools, for 'contests' (called "Meets"). I managed to attend, and leave early, to study (yep, really was a nerd). I think that I was the only person who joined the rifle team that was not a member of the ROTC. The only reason they allowed me in was likely that I was already tied to some REAL military friends ....&; ...in particular; ...I was an excellent shot with a rifle. I did not like most of those ROTC guys one little bit, something about the type of personality that most had. I felt it was perfectly OK that they become cannon fodder. They returned the feeling, or worse. I used a custom-made rifle for those Meets, & earned a few medals. The guys on our team may not have liked me, but they WANTED me on the team (during Team Events ONLY...well, maybe I imagined that). For me, I simply wanted the use of the underground Shooting Range; & the privileges of being on the Traveling Team. Our instructor/leader/coach/ found me at the underground Range one day, plinking-away with my .45 Colt M1911. That created a bit of a problem ...hand guns were not allowed. We compromised, by closing the range to only us two, and our various pistols, revolvers, etc. He made a pass at me. .....I was getting far more educated.
I generally hung out with a slightly older crowd ...typically 3 years older. We all had to sign up for Selective Service when 18. Some of my friends were being drafted into the Army at 21-1/2. I did not like the 'ARMY' idea. I had advice, from a close friend's father, a full colonel in the USMC ....that stood me well for my 'career's'. For once in my entire life I followed advice (HIS) rather precisely. I fell right into military training after I joined the Service ...with no problems. Well, not exactly. Marines' training was not so nice, nor proper, nor genteel in the late 1950's & early 1960's. My parents hadn't the foggiest idea where & what I was doing ...or even being at Camp Pendleton ...they thought I was staying at my friend's house, perhaps chasing after his sister (BTDT). In fact, after one longish absent period, my parents thought I was shacking-up with my girlfriend; .... the truth .... (yes, I was) ...but I was also at Camp Pendleton.... which we slangly called Marguerita-ville (Santa Marguerita river goes through there...and...strangely enough, I liked the drink, too, although it is spelled a bit differently).
Lesssseeee.... backtracking again:
As an early teenager, I played piano some evenings at The Lighthouse ...a jazz joint in Hermosa Beach ....Howard Rumsey's was the house band. I also played at a couple of coffee houses, Café Paisano (as I remembered the name in my old age here, but must really have been POSITANO), & sat in now & then at Shelly's Mannhole, owned by Shelly Mann. I was comfortable in coffee houses, even those filled with cheap Mexican smoke, which cost about $12 a kilogram at the Mexican side of the border. It came in honest to gosh pressed-kilo-bricks. It was hardly the high powered pot of today. I did my share for a short while ...but found it GREATLY interfered with my studies & hobbies so I quit. Considerably later, I once, purposely, went up in a small airplane, with a check pilot, to find out what the effects would be from just two puffs of that low-quality Mexican pot. That cured me of ever again thinking about smoking weed & flying.
I was not just 'the kid' at those above jazz places. I was also playing piano at an infamous 'queer' bar ('queers' are now called 'gays') in Santa Monica Canyon, near where it joins the Pacific Coast Highway. I developed some gay friendships back then, later had some strong gay friendships that endure to this day ...both male & female. I am comfortable at their social events. Decades later I was, for several years, the Chairman for the Ryan White Consortium at Tahoe, for both ElDorado & Alpine Counties. I've been a care-giver for those with full-blown AIDS & end-stage cancer. I just don't have major uneasiness in certain 'strange' social situations ...sexual, racial, political, religious ...that many folks seem to have.
I long ago got over most of my shyness ...and have found ways to call-upon hidden aggression when needed or desired. So-much-for-growing-up. ...or, something or other. Mainly I have learned how to get what I want in life, and from others ....even doing it nicely now and then (and much more often these days)! I can be gentle and quiet, introspective and contemplative, learned, philosophical, etc. I can also be awful. I do try to be helpful most of the time. It is easier, and it is nicer, and it is appreciated.
I tend to LIKE off-beat & unusual situations; and, sometimes, I exhibit a very perverse sense of humor; a way of dealing with those things & dealing with the folks that have prejudiced ...let's say, IMO, UN-informed ...ideas. I've lost a friend or two, or potential friend, due to being outspoken. But, I am mellower these days.
When still a teenager, I learned a whole bunch about what is now called "alternative" life-styles. I became relatively comfortable around every sort of Bohemian. The earliest period I remember was when supposedly folks like Jack Keroac & Ezra Pound (or imposters) were "occasionally around" Venice Beach. Venice was a place I knew well ....it was the Beat Generation. With my piano-playing & interest in the serious side of jazz, I integrated these people & events into my life (and vice versa). I hung out a bit with an artist, no other word for him, who made leather luggage that was rather exotic, & quickly learned his trade. I had fairly close friendships with some folks in the publishing business, as well as with some fairly well-known off-beat (pun intended) types...and even some cartoonists. I had some writing talent, which I occasionally misused & sometimes I got things published, this being before I became an engineer who got technical articles published. I had a zero regarding cartooning. I generally regard myself as not having much of an artistic side (my wife disagrees). If I do, I cannot find it easily (except that I CAN be very artistic in my cooking). What I mean is that I THINK I am not good at creating original art. Penny thinks that it is because I do not try. She may be right. I am very good at seeing the artistry of Mother Nature, in our Great Outdoors. When I lived at Tahoe THAT was all around me, and I do notice, but not always audibly to others. Here at Carson City, where I now live, it is high desert, which has its own, but different, beauty.
I admit to having some talent for placing wit & satire onto paper (remember paper?), sometimes in a cynically and/or curmudgeonly way. I have become somewhat even more cynical; or at the least I have taken a somewhat comical view of life in general as time passed. I suspect this began with my early wide-ranging experiences.
I really have done a lot in my lifetime. I even managed to live in a couple of commune's ...... Victor Barranco's "Morehouses". I taught weekend courses there, on such as "Money, Jealousy, Possessions"; AND....." Basic Sexuality". I KNEW some of the Kinsey's crew; & studied with them. .......(I had to live SOMEPLACE!) :-)
I managed to became a part time temporary lifeguard at the beach when in High School. Real babe-magnets we lifeguards. I had 2 homemade surfboards, which I transported to the beach in my somewhat rare Mercury 'wood-sided' station wagon, which we called "A Woody". Seldom were the board(s) in the car anyway during the sunny days I was at the beach for ANY reason; ...no, they were leaning up against 'my' lifeguard shack, the one on tall stilts, located between the 'City' of Santa Monica, & the 'City' of Venice, California. I think neither City knew where their border was. I had applied to both for the lifeguard job, and got meager paychecks from both. The shack was right next to Muscle Beach. My long hair started out getting longer & longer over several years. Long hair was 'out', short hair was 'in', as far as school was concerned. Make what you will, of THAT. My brown hair was bleached and eventually long enough that went down my back QUITE a bit. I had built my two surfboards (one of Balsa), including a motorized (mini-jet) one. I designed & machined the jet on a lathe & mill, at my old JUNIOR high school, they had such machines in their Shop Class & the shop instructor remembered me from being in his classes & allowed me access. I would occasionally help that shop teacher in return, even though, at that time, I had no teaching certificates. That lathe was a 12" LeBlond Regal, made in 1937 or 1938. That model and year LeBlond was the lathe I learned on when I had actually attended that school, and I used it when I was in High School. Up until Summer of 2019 I owned that same model of lathe ...mine was made in April, 1937. Below is a photo of mine. With the upcoming house move in late 2019, I sold it to a friend. I MISS IT, A LOT.
Years later, my friend Dave Furst, who also did strange mechanical contraptions things with me ...and I ...got into Vincent motorcycles in a BIG way; & I personally then expanded all over the Vincent world; Dave was responsible for a fair amount of the work on the NORVIN (Norton Frame, Vincent Engine) that I used in August of 1971 to set a Class World Record, at the Bonneville Salt Flats. At that time I was already the Chief Engineer of Linear Corporation. By Summer of 1972, I realized that I had reached THE prominent goal in my life, Chief Engineer, and, was a Bonneville Record Holder. It was time to completely change my life. I planned-well, it took time, but I moved to Lake Tahoe. I was approximately 35 years old. I was still dual-employed when I moved. That lasted for a LONG time.
Earlier, into my twenties, I was into BMW sidecar racing & all sorts of engines work for others; & trying to get sponsored for racing my Alfa (that never worked out). René Pellandini finally HIRED me to race his Morgan Dealership cars. For my own cars, I got some sponsorship from Iskendarian, Joe Hunt, Vic Edelbrock, and a few others. I KNEW these folks personally. Those names from the past included McDonald, Donny Vesco, Phil Hill, Skip Van Leuwen, Al Mark, Art Gerrick, Dick Mann, Doug Bingham....etc. ....were some of the people I knew, some of them very well. Most of the guys I knew back then are dead. I am not .....YET. Once in awhile I rode bikes with some of the movie names of the time, some of who lived in Cheviot Hills & Bel Air. Most, if not all of these folks are also dead. I have noticed that if I know people long enough, they die. I am not taking any extraordinary credit for that, but feel I should warn you.
My cousin Jon, & maybe another cousin or two, looked up to me .....the black sheep of the family ....but I never saw that, nor understood why, at that time. My own brother & I got along like estranged acquaintances. My parents would tell me years later how much he looked up to me. I never saw nor felt that ...as well as a lot of other things I probably was oblivious to. I was FAR too busy very selfishly being ME.
I suspect that my outdoors activities, gym time, outlook on life, & often good eating habits (especially in mid & later life), contributed to why I was ...supposedly ....in good condition for my age up at least to my late sixties, & I always ...and constantly ...re-intended to stay sort-of that way. It is akin to making New Year's Resolutions many times during a year. GOD (so fickle at times; black women are like that, EH?) grants us only so much time. In truth, I have no real depth of belief in a God, a being, or non-being. I probably am closer to a Taoist, a Buddhist; which is a way of life, NOT a 'religion' (no formal deity as in others) ...but even those labels do not fit. I do not practice, nor believe-in, any sort of ORGANIZED ...or UNorganized ...religion.
The last few years before I moved to Lake Tahoe were filled with my involvement working as Chief Engineer for Linear Corporation, working for a Government Agency occasionally, and spending most every spare moment being involved with everything motorcycle. Earl Flanders became a sponsor & kept that status, including being my official timer for the A.M.A.... into 1971+ when I raced at the Bonneville Salt Flats, setting the records I mentioned ....the main one of which lasted 6 years until a FACTORY Harley team broke it. Flanders had become a West Coast BMW and BMW motorcycle parts supplier. The Flanders Company still exists. Butler & Smith 'WAS' BMW in Eastern USA. Here are some photos I scanned from motorcycle magazines.
From here, I am going to backtrack quite a few years, at least for awhile, in this long saga. I've been too lazy to fix this longish section, so it still jumps-around, date-wise.
I also raced two Manx Nortons (I had a rare 350, & also a 500).
I got into dirt biking & had a pair of 400 Husqvarna's ....those were state of the art then. Today they would be curiosity items, being overweight, & with lousy suspensions by TODAY's standards.
I tried to get my hands on the R69S that Penton rode across the U.S. in a bit over 2 days, that must have been around 1960. I thought the R69S was THE bike to ride. This was REALLY strange, since "everyone knew" that BMW's were NOT the 'cool wheels' of that time.
In 1956 I purchased a brand-new Triumph TR6. I was 19. My first NEW bike. I purchased mine after seeing what my friend Ed Nelsen's would do. He never became a real rider. I did, & began putting on tens of thousands of miles, then hundreds of thousands. I have vastly more miles on bikes than in cars.
I dabbled in Ham Radio for a considerable period of time. W6LMN. My exploits in Ham radio would make for an article of its own. I had a Ham Radio station at my home & later on one of my BMW bikes, two tall antennas, dynamotors for power, car battery.
I became a fair wrench on bikes & cars/trucks rather early-on. I had always had a knack for fixing mechanical and electrical things, .....having spent a lot of my pre-teens & teens years 'analyzing what it took to break things.'
It was not long before I started getting more & more involved with BMW motorcycles. I sold the pre-Airheads, and got into Airheads in a big way. I owned a succession of BMW Airheads, putting some big mileage's on them. I initially owned the /2 bikes and the Airhead BMW bikes for these primary reasons:
Extremely reliable compared to others; easy to maintain, were 'different'; were very comfortable on long trips; were QUIET; parts did not vibrate off & deposit themselves alongside the road. Later, I loved them so much that I could not give them up; and, as a roving tech guy for BMW themselves, it was THE bike to ride.
Early-on, I initially worked part-time at a BMW dealership. Old gray-haired (or no hair) guys reading this may remember me at Winklemann's BMW and at other dealerships, mostly in Southern California, helping them. Although it was part-time due to my still being in school, I eventually became the chief technician, and then head-of-the-shop at Winklemann's. Not long after, I was doing part time advisory things for other dealerships (often being 'paid under the counter' by someone who was in deeeep trouble). In various capacities I was especially seen around Browns BMW & Marty's BMW. I never arranged it so that I could attend Butler & Smiths (or, later, BMW's own) schools, so I never met Tom Cutter, at BMW tech training schools. It was in this era that I first met & became friends with OAK (Orlando Okleshen). It was decades later that I met Tom Cutter at the Spokane BMW National Rally in 2004, when we were all teaching Seminars. I know maybe a couple of dozen really good BMW mechanics. That group includes Ted Porter, Bob Clement, Matt Parkhouse. I have met Anton Largiader, but have not worked with him; ....have not met Bud Provin yet. I think, from reputation and writings, that they are all top quality Wrench's.
Over my lifetime I have found myself in need of certain skills and knowledge. Gaining such can, by normal or usual methods, take a long time, with much effort. There is not enough time in one's lifetime to do it all via formal lengthy and often wasteful-of-time schooling. My answer to this problem was to apprentice myself for a day to a week, to whomever had the information and/or skills ....and, especially, a history ...so as to know hints, shortcuts, inside knowledge, etc., that I wanted. My method of learning was VASTLY faster than going to some sort of trades' school classes (although I certainly did that for some things). I would do almost anything, including the most menial of jobs, in order to gain access to those who had the information or skills I wanted. The apprenticing idea continued for decades, as I was never too proud to do so, & learned much, VERY FAST. YMMV!
From an early age, right up to the present, I have been a voracious reader ....and was reading classic literature and also reading much of the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, page by page, all by the 9th grade; not much later I was reading vast quantities of technical books. Foreign languages I struggled with, never did become fluent in any. I used to practice my High School Spanish when I would travel to Baja or Mexico. Today, any Spanish is a few words now & then. I may take some actual Spanish courses and culture programs in the future & also study my old materials. I wouldn't mind learning a bit of Japanese, either. I seldom read novels, mostly read the so-called Classics (yes, a few were novels). I did like Science Fiction. Nowadays I read a lot on the Internet, where News and even foreign TV programs are available. Sometimes news is blocked, so I use a round-a-bout way of seeing things, defeating censorship. I read technical magazines ....and local newspapers. I always kept up with local, regional, & national politics. Now and then I re-read another Classic or add one I had not read before. I wrote some SF articles/stories. Some got published. At least one may be on this website ...might be more in the near future. I may have removed them, too lazy to go look.
Most of my twenty-ish friends were budding Democrats or Socialists. Always wanting to side with the weird, I registered as a Republican, & mostly kept that, although I have been an Independent & a Democrat. My voting has usually had little to do with Party & labels. I still think politics, as life, is laughable...AND deplorable. I have always voted since able-to. On local issues, my tendencies are to vote conservatively on fiscal matters, & liberally on social matters. I think the far Right, & the far Left, BOTH generally worth their ridicule. I am probably somewhat of a Libertarian.
I grew up generally having an intense curiosity about everything. The 1960's was a time for every type of weird 'Left-Bank' type person. L.A. was into self-actualization 'fix me' (& folks who fixed those folks problems, for $ or?). I joined a commune (was in three overall, eventually, for short periods) & lived & taught Courses in "money, jealousy, sex", & other courses on controlling folks, to a succession of rubes, who needed to part with their money in order to be able to 'hear the truth' about anything. "Truth" to ME was, and still is, jazz terminology.
A boyhood friend & I, were friends of Ed Kolpin & helped his business by purchasing tobacco & briar smoking pipes. We liked good tobacco. Never hardly ever inhaled the stuff, but liked the taste/smell. We helped Ed run Tinder Box #1 & then we helped Ed open Tinder Box #2, which turned into a chain that his boys took over years later. I attained a life-long appreciation of good tobacco & good cigars. Nowadays, I have lost much of my taste for smoking, but I still have a rare pipe or cigar. I think I probably don't smoke more than a dozen cigars a year (80% of which are small thin short ones) ....& always OUTside the house. I am also only too well aware that no one, including ME, likes to be near a smoker who reeks of stale tobacco. I won't let anyone, including myself, smoke inside my house. When I purchased my Tahoe house the prior owners were VERY heavy cigarette smokers. They smoked in the living room, which has a massive beam-supported ceiling and the ceiling is all wood. Using a Coolee-hat, I spent 6 months +-, cleaning every square inch of that ceiling with rags, hot water, detergent, & brushes, inch by inch. Where did I ever get such energy?
I took piano lessons before & during my teens, pumped iron at the gym I've mentioned from long ago, & continued to do some wrestling, and, later, gave up any thoughts of boxing & quit wrestling. For a long time, I played 'kid' with budding musclemen boxers at that old, sweaty, smelly, dirty, original, Vic Tanny's basement Gym in Santa Monica & also the Westwood gym near UCLA. I hated it when those gyms closed. Vic himself gave me a life membership. My Official Membership was D23. 1957. I can't find the one that Vic gave me, about two weeks before his Manager gave me the one shown here.
I hated the closing for two reasons, the first because of the inconvenience of traveling to the new foo-foo gym I now had to attend (foo foos came into being just prior to Vic's places closing). Secondly, I now had to spend MY money for my gym time, or whatever the place was, & most of the guys, who had long been friends at Vic's basement boxing gyms, did not go to modern gyms, nor BSA nor YMCA places. UCLA had a fledgling gym though. I remained friends with a few of the guys for many decades.
In 1998-1999 I worked-out very hard for quite some time; & restricted my diet. The idea was to enter the natural (no steroids, etc.) body building contest that was coming to Lake Tahoe. Haven't done anything so restrictive since that contest. I wish, however, that I'd had gotten some photos of myself on stage! ..although the Tahoe Daily (daily, then) Tribune published one. I should have gotten a copy and put it in this article. ah, well, I do have SOME class (hee heeeee)
In a way, I miss the guys & those old gyms ...but, in truth, today's gyms are FAR better, in most every way, except, maybe, the friendships. Gym's now have carpets ...& showers that are clean & actually work (usually). That was primarily done to grab the businessmen & WOMEN. These gyms are often considerably filled with older graying folks trying to maintain ...or attain ...some sort of shape ....or other. Some of the girls (& young men) look very good; they SEEM ...to me ....to be GETTING VASTLY YOUNGER. Maybe it is more that I am getting vastly OLDER! I spent time every visit, seeing if any trend with the gals has begun or continued ....one should keep up with trends, trying as that may be! At one time two well-known local plastic surgeons frequented my gym regularly ....I made a point of seeing which women seemed, somehow, to know them, & if their appearance changed during that 'knowing-time'. Especially certain prominent forward parts of their appearance.
Watching others of all types in the gym sometimes gave me a bit of a push towards watching my own diet & exercise program. I have not yet reached the point of giving up to total sloth. But.... in 2017, looking into a mirror, naked, it was hard for me to identify my body, with the body I inhabited so long ago. Since starting Lupron, in November 2018, things are considerably worse.
OK ...time to backtrack to a very important time for me ....in my later teen years...and, on for a bit:
There was one particular person who meant a lot to me (besides Art Gerrick, my auto mechanics guy and instructor/teacher/coach). He was the father of 'Bucky', a close buddy of mine. Bucky's father was a Marine Colonel. He was direct, honest, a stand-up kind of guy. I looked up to him. A lot. I thought his manly qualities were to be emulated. He knew instinctively, or more likely from lots of practice and experiences, about mistakes, life, whatever. He knew exactly when to be soft & vulnerable; when to be hard as nails; when to be 'understanding'; when to reveal if he was smart or not; & he was a very loving husband & father. He knew what it meant to be a man, & he knew when vulnerability, softness & loving kindness was appropriate. He was also a true gentleman. Perhaps in some other life I will be able to come close to what he was, but I doubt it. BTW: I particularly liked the movie "An Officer and a Gentleman", & sometimes imagined myself in the leading role.
My friend's father, The Colonel, had a BIG influence on me; and I tended to follow his advice, which I sometimes even asked-for. It was he, who encouraged me to join the Marines, and it was he who advised me afterwards, for many years.
The Vietnam war/situation was a very unpleasant time. End Vietnam commentary.
I always hoped to find the right woman for me that I would love greatly, & with whom I could play the lead role in that mentioned movie, in real life. Hopeless Romantic in some ways (which may surprise you!). However much as I have failed to meet my own standards, at times, I have won mightily in some areas of life ....Penny has been a big BIG part of my life.
I studied a lot on my own at various times; this continued throughout my life. In particular one of those times was during the late 1980's to about 1991 (I had a new fresh 'government' situation, in which I had a LOT of free time). It was not necessarily a very pleasant time. I studied law for awhile, for curiosity & a modicum of knowledge. I also studied a LOT ...intensely ...about world religions. I found them fascinating. Well, I found the HISTORY fascinating. The book-learning did NOT make me religious. I learned WAY too much about the Greeks & Egyptians ....Horus, Osiris, etc. Makes for problems with Christian's relationships sometimes, ....with those who ARE BELIEVERS ....and who refuse to recognize that many of their beliefs in 'historical' happenings, actually came from hundreds & even thousands of years earlier. I have learned that it is best to keep my mouth shut. Especially with those believing in the Trinity.
WAY backtracking: My parents originally wanted me to be a Doctor. A year of medical school at UCLA was not of help (to them). I wanted to be an engineer. My parents said they would settle for my being a concert pianist headliner. I wanted to be an engineer. They offered to pay for advanced piano lessons. I said I wanted to be an engineer. Things got more intense, tending to culminate when I did the second of two piano playing adventures; the first was in 1952 I think. The last one was another public piano recital at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium ...in June 1955 I think it was. The program was 100% classical music and featured three pianists, of which I was the 'final course and "Wanna-Be" Star'. Amidst clapping, and at the request of my front row seated Teacher, I did an encore ....of a personal jazz composition (yes, I composed it) that was something like 'Turned-On Bach, a-la Dave Brubeck'. My piano teacher, very traditional & strict, went nuts; never saw me, nor spoke to me, ever again. I should explain a bit about me and my parents 'wants'. To try to appease (?) my parents, I told them I would be OK for basic living expenses & paid education & piano instruction at Julliard. With the enormous cost of that in their minds, we compromised (??) by me more fully using my status of "Emancipated Juvenile", in Kalifornica, thanks to Leo Freud, a judge (in 1952, I think it was) .... and I changed Majors, to become an electrical engineering student at UCLA. I moved out of my parents home (more than once), in my teens. Once this was a bit earlier (by a few weeks) than I had planned; my planning was upset by having a physical altercation with my brother. I do not remember why. My parents did not approve of that. My brother & I made up later. He is still exasperating & sometimes terribly boring. I think his social skills are a couple of levels below mine, & mine are not good. Still. Maybe. Maybe not. I am not a good judge.
I had been a fairly rebellious kid ...that was NOT common in those days; at least not in my lower middle-class families circles. By the time I was in high school I was enjoying quite a split personality ...one part was getting into every type of kids' troubles, the other part was the oh-so-serious student of everything ...and I mean EVERYthing. I would jump into something, try to master it ...at least to the PRACTICAL usage point, then try something new. Great substitute for not catching balls. Never a dull moment.
The final split came about earlier than High School..... after my dad, who almost never opened his garage, found 7 motorcycles inside. To make matters more intense, 'the finding' was at about the same time he found out something else. His eldest son, that's me, had violated his personal space ....I used his and Mom's bed with a girlfriend of mine; this was while they were on a well-deserved 'vacation' (most likely to be away FROM ME). My dad HATED motorcycles. He was also afraid of flying. Funny ...everything my father hated, disliked, or was somehow against ....well, nearly ....I managed to enjoy ...hmmm. Maybe some day I will ponder upon that more. Likely not.
I did become an engineer. Electrical & Electronics Engineer. I was admitted to Membership in the Institute of Radio Engineers in 1961 ...it was the IRE then, & later called the IEEE. The Agency (I eventually worked for two), via the military, offered to pay for an advanced degree, MSEE. I accepted (Thank you, Colonel Turner, R.I.P., for advising me long before, to long afterwards!!). Later came some very specialized 'education' at a government institution located on the East side of the USA. But, these folks also wanted me to keep hidden who I was, and so on ...and ON. My own family & friends knew zilch about all this. I was Mr. X at college. I once tried to get a copy of my own records. What a hassle! ...had to go through two departments of the government! I went to a lot of short term 'schools'; even took extra courses at City Colleges, even two at Trade Tech; numerous seminars & such. All this time I still had that electronics repair business of mine (since a teenager, & still have it), my mechanical interests, & wanted to keep up with things. Can you say 'burning the candles at both ends'? How about a box of candles all burning at every end of each one?
The particular Agency I ended up being associated with for the most time was very interested in someone with a really big & varied background in many things. So, I became not only an engineer & a Military & Commercial Pilot; but, an Agency troubleshooter specialist ....of sorts. We won't get into what types of troubleshooting and what 'troubleshooting' can mean. Some of my fellow Agency types said, somewhat paraphrasing here, that I was not a trouble-shooter, but a shooter looking for trouble; or? No, I have NO intention of saying anything more about Agency work, or my time with USMC. Do you know Latin? Non Timebo Mala.
My electronics repair business had originally started as an early teen, in my parents garage, & I continued the brick and mortar business I had before I left their home, and still have that business. I had it even when in the Service, even when working as an engineer for others. Today that business is down to quite part-time & is located, again, as it started, in my garage. It was still a Warranty Repair Station for a few major brands, mostly musician's electronics, until late 2019....I don't want to do warranty work, ever again. I've always used the business income to pay for utilities, some frills, & occasionally some thrills. I have not advertised the business in many years, although I made a website and pass out the rare business card; and have a presence on YELP and GOOGLE, etc. I have pretty much let the business slow down ...preferring my remaining hobbies & time with Penny. I had the business up for sale for $18,000 but have not done any serious advertising. I reopened the biz in Carson City, early in 2020. It is and remains, part time, only.
Way back when, I obtained HAM licenses, Radiotelephone licenses & endorsements, all sorts of licensing & certifications. I even got Coast Guard type training. I had Competitor's licenses. I could cover walls with these pieces of paper. Some I treasure, some I don't much care about. Some I can't even display nor discuss.
I managed to get a few patents, worthy for talk, not money. I wrote & was published for electronics things, as well as some forms of instrumentation ...heck, even some things on motorcycles. I treasure the off-beat articles I managed to get into some strange publications .....Chick Young illustrated with his cartoons one of my off-the-wall articles. I wrote... under pen-names for some magazines. I wrote for several BMW publications, and you are reading this on my website, which is also well-known.
I've mentioned, early in this long piece, about my getting civilian flying certificates ...here is some background on that:
Somewhat before the 'Bay of Pigs' time, a friend who taught helicopter flying at Ft. Wolters, took me up in his T-28. It took me bare seconds to get hooked. Horsepower and aerobatics! Airplanes!! I started flight lessons immediately (NEXT DAY!!) at Santa Monica Airport. BUT;....it soon became apparent that this time it was NOT going to be any short-term study nor apprenticeship. I dove into the learning process with both hands & feet (sometimes my head followed those). I ended up with a whole bunch of flying certifications, such as Commercial Pilot, Multi-engine, Instruments, Instructor, Seaplane ....etc. I actually went all the way & became a truly quite good & competent pilot. I was a Member of the original Baja Bush Pilots International, & have owned a few airplanes over the years. In the Service, & for an Agency, I flew some interesting aircraft & situations. These day I don't want the responsibilities and costs to own a plane. I no longer have flight privileges with the military. I am sure they are happy about that. I am not. I had some fun with the Blue Angels one weekend, ....another fine story to tell some time; photo on this website in one of my Photo Gallery's.
In my travels, most always by motorcycle, I often used to visit small out of the way airports. This was almost always before I got married, so Penny was not along. I would also often beg a flight or rent an airplane for awhile. It is a LOT of fun to play 'wistful' at a small country airport, hanging over the fence.... while touring on one of my bikes; maybe getting a free airplane ride. My military flying is mostly unmentionable.
Now & then I used-to 'rent myself out' as a pilot ....or, Second in Command.
I bought a brand-new 1968 VW Squareback ...it had the first electronic fuel injection that was available on any popular vehicle. I found interesting ways of defeating or modifying things in its system computer box. I found the electronics interesting, but not overwhelming. I used my knowledge of its F.I. to add such to a R75/5, with a hidden supercharger. There is a description about that heavily modified R75/5 on this website, here is a direct full link: https://bmwmotorcycletech.info/sleeperr75.htm
I had owned & tinkered with a long list of interesting vehicles by the time I moved to Lake Tahoe. While at Tahoe, in the early 1980's, I purchased a beat up 1968 Dodge Power Wagon. I restored it, with extensive modifications, such as a gas guzzling hopped-up 440 engine. I sold it .....too much constant tinkering with it; and, it was time to get more reliability & a conventional vehicle (a Miata sports car!!). When I started on that Dodge project, always being the practical person (?), I bought into a gas station. That is, I loaned the owner a lot of money, for which he paid me monthly interest at a high rate ...when I could catch him. He ran a Ponzi scheme, then killed himself, I think he was murdered actually. I lost the principal amount of the money. So much for my excellent good business sense & for any hope of early retirement. That owner also had a used car business .....he paid me to handle the registration & other paperwork. I got good enough at that; there are plenty of complications, particularly with not-allowed-to-be-imported sports cars; .....& familiar enough with all the folks at the DMV office; ......that I got a reputation ...& started doing that same sort of paperwork, for a price, for other dealerships. I quit that, long ago.
I had several logbooks full of flight hours ...& my dad had died (he of motorcycles-hate and flying-hate) .... before my mother felt it was OK to go flying with me. I still cherish that flight with her. At Tahoe. Over the Sierras. She had a grin from one ear to the other, until she fell asleep from the altitude she was not used to. She was in her seventies. My brother was along. He was white as a sheet. Maybe he wasn't. I offered to take him up in the Pitts aerobatic plane after we landed (we were in my Cessna 182). He wisely declined. I hated cleaning-up vomit anyway; and I surely would have done aerobatics, just because I can be perverse; and, he was my brother.
When I was very young, just a few years old (maybe up to 4 or 5? I don't remember), I lived over a bakery. The bakery, which specialized in premium pastries for the best restaurants & hotels, was owned & operated by my grandparents on my father's side. At that young age, I learned some things about premium pastries. I also learned about EATING them! I actually became a fairly good cook/chef later on in life. Back in those early years I learned about fresh baked goods, minutes old, every morning with breakfast. Strange then, that my father would go to work for a baking company ...that made, generally, products of only fair to good quality for the masses. My father was some sort of executive at the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco now)...& gave me, when I was perhaps not yet a teenager, inadvertently, quite unknown to him, an education on money, power, & corporate policy-making. He also brought home "samplers" that Nabisco made for its executives. These premium items were not available in stores. They were not like my grandparents pastries from my early years, but very acceptable to kids ...including my friends. The 'education' mentioned here was not the more intensive and useful one I got from my father's brother, later, when I worked for him, afternoons, my first years of High School.
I grew up living in West Los Angeles. I still remember 'the red cars' ...the passenger train ...a high speed trolley ...that traveled at a goodly speed, from the 'station' nearest our home ...Exposition Blvd at Sepulveda Blvd, south of Pico Blvd ...to 'Downtown'. In the mornings Dad would walk two blocks to get on it ...& it sped to near 7th & Mateo, downtown L.A ....where he worked at the National Biscuit Company. It was just about the last train-type transportation in that area ...the tracks being torn up elsewhere's, except for freight tracks. Rumors had it that Texaco & Standard Oil (Chevron now) were the culprits. Later on, in a fit of pique over some nothingness (I think), my father quit Nabisco, weeks short of a 20 year retirement, & opened an upholstery shop in Venice, with a distant cousin. What I remember most about distant cousin Sol were TWO things. FIRST, he had spent a lifetime cutting upholstery materials ....& in shaking hands with him, his hands were so muscular that he could crush your bones. Second, I had my own crush problem ....a simply terrible crush on his daughter, Miriam. THAT did not work out, although we did go out some. Eventually Dad went to work as General Manager at the Lindy Pen Co. Ballpoint pens were then a big time super-popular novelty. Lindy was #2 in Ball Point Pens. Lindy's brother (Lindenbaum was the actual family name) owned a jewelry store. I learned something about jewelry. I also learned about Swiss machinery used in making ball-point pens. I learned that no matter how tiny it was, the Swiss could figure out a way to make it smaller, more precise, better.
I mentioned earlier that over many years l apprenticed myself for short periods with a fair number of folks that did things like machining, welding, metal working, generally various types of repairing. I had a fascination with the old-world idea of apprenticeship, but I was in a terrific hurry. I certainly did NOT want to spend YEARS studying JUST ONE trade. I wanted immediate, fast BASIC knowledge; in many trades. I never got into woodworking though ....I sure wish I had! Some of these apprenticeships were not only quickie, but quirky. I found ways of getting those short apprenticeships & often getting paid a little bit. During this time I had various competition licenses approvals, which I exercised. I LOVED motorcycle racing of every type. I liked weekend hill climbs on Lankersheim, the track in Gardena, road racing at Riverside, Pomona, Willow Springs, etc. I also developed a real liking for cross country riding, such as the Baja races, & the Barstow-Baker-Vegas (we had OTHER names for THAT). I purchased a new BMW 600, the cheaply priced & larger version of the BMW Isetta teeny-car. Cheaper than a VW bug. Front opening door. Going to work one day, someone ran a stop sign, totaled the car, broke two of my ribs. Car got repaired, insurance company insisted. Traded car for BMW motorcycle with 560 miles on it! ....AND he gave me some cash too! ...outrageous deal! I REALLY got into BMW bikes after that. A photo & description of the BMW 600 is here: https://bmwmotorcycletech.info/photogallery.htm
I always had a car from an early age, sometimes a sports car. I found that girls LIKED guys, or at least liked to be SEEN with them, even those with dirty, greasy hands & fingernails, who had a sports car, top down. To have a SPORTS CAR was, well, obviously you had rich parents. I did NOT have rich parents. I did not need rich parents. I made decent money. I could purchase a new sports car with the profits from my sales of RCA color TV's and Muntz TV's. etc. I loved owning a convertible sports car, having the top down ...& resting my left bicep on the top of the door, in such a fashion that my already oversized biceps looked even more huge. I had a perverse sense of humor, & would watch girls eyes, and guys eyes, as they looked, and tried not to show they looked. I did not weigh much, but I had massive arms. ME BAD! Those muscles have sure faded now.
Earlier I had purchased a brand-new Jeep using my 'wages' at the after-school warehouse job ($1.20 an hour!) This was when I was an early Emancipated Juvenile. I financed the balance after my down payment, to gain a credit rating ...lots of fun with the bank, me being WAY underage. Later I purchased a well-used 49 Ford Business Coupe. I built the flathead V-8 engine to the max., getting nearly 300 hp out of its supercharged engine. The car went nicely after being grossly stripped to reduce weight. I took hundreds of pounds of weight out of that already light car. Navarro custom-made me the heads, Joe Hunt gave me the magneto, & some other names of the day, Ed Iskendarian, Vic Edelbrock, ETC.... gave me some other race parts. Yep, GAVE me. It was fun to drive ...but there was no seat for a passenger. The only seat was an 18 pound magnesium seat from, if I remember correctly, an F86. I got tired of that car, sold it, built up a 52 MG-TD with that same engine & had lots more fun. Having 300 hp in a light weight MG was REALLY exciting. I well remember the effects my Morgan, MG, Triumph, or my Porsche 550RS1500 (yes, the same as the James Dean car) had on some of my 'friends'. Photos of that Porsche, some with me and my first wife, Johnny (Jonnie) (Mary Ellen) in it ....are in my photo galleries on this site. Years later, much better read and wiser (?), I understood more about such friends, and about MYSELF for having those THINGS. There are photos of SOME of my various vehicles, even some motorcycles, in my various photo gallery articles on this website. For access, go to the homepage, and scan way down for the box with the links to the 7 photo galleries. Homepage: https://bmwmotorcycletech.info
My Alfa Sprint Specialé, only a few were ever made, was a particular favorite ....a real Ferrari-look, & performed well. My wife & I looked terrific in that car. We looked even better, to certain Motor-Heads, in the 550RS1500. Photos of those cars are in the photo galleries on this website. Start with Photo Gallery #1: https://bmwmotorcycletech.info/photogallery.htm
One of my closest as-teen acquaintances was a middle-aged man named Art Gerrick. Art lived about a mile from my parents home, taught me a lot, & I hung out often with him at his home-shop for many hours at a time. It was Art who taught me about fine mechanical craftsmanship. Art had a 28 Essex-frame with a T engine that was Rajo equipped, had a very high CR, alcohol burning (rumor is that he was the first to use it), what we called a Lakes Car (for top speed runs on dry lakes, such as Muroc). He was a TRUE old-time MASTER mechanic. That I was not with him at his death-bed ...and the same, much later, for old friend, Donny Vesco, continues to haunt me a bit. Mostly this was because after I moved to Lake Tahoe in 1972, I rapidly ...way too rapidly ...stopped staying in touch with many folks, including my own relatives. Of course, they did the same to me. Out of Sight, Out of Mind. Maybe it was 'good riddance.'
After moving to Lake Tahoe, I begin to get more seriously into outdoors things ...backpacking in particular. I also began to shape-up again. I was watching my foods, & getting exercise. It was good for me. I had a lot of energy, & used it constantly. I still watch the types of foods I eat ....unfortunately many I watch I also eat, and they are not good for me. I do like all sorts of ethnic foods, & I like the taste of foods that are called healthy ....I liked them LONG before it became fashionable. I, unfortunately, also like sweets, especially chocolate, cookies, ice cream.... & pastries.
I drove some interesting cars for awhile ...as I sometimes managed the use of an occasional car from some of the several dealerships I was doing things for. I was re-introduced to René Pellandini, & became a PAID race-driver for his dealership's Morgan cars. I purchased the previously mentioned, & nearly brand new, Alfa Sprint Specialé ....A Bertoné bodied mini-Ferrari. Bright Italian Red of course! I began to take an interest in a girl who worked at a dealership. Being INTERESTED did NOT mean I was dating her. I was truly & suddenly smitten, this was one educated, smart (MENSA) ...sassy ...& an interesting woman. I plotted & plotted. In a while she ....horrors upon horrors ...went to work for a Citroen dealer, doing registrations. CITROENS? !
I learned about dealers, their shenanigans, paperwork, & more dealer shenanigans. I learned LOTS more of this, in much greater detail, decades later, at Tahoe, when I worked part-time for a someone in the used-car business, doing registrations.
Unfortunately, 'she' was also dating a sort-of friend of mine. She eventually left the Citroen dealership for a Honda motorcycle dealership. Hapco Motors. Owned by Harry Pokras. I decided to work for the same Honda dealership, part-time, as a salesman. Can't imagine why I would want to do that (perhaps YOU do ...certainly SHE did). The Honda 750 was about to be introduced. BIG deal that was going to be. The 'You Meet The Nicest People On A Honda' was in full swing. I couldn't get her out of my mind. I thought about her even when I was selling a motorcycle to one of the Beach Boys & she was out of my sight ...in the dealership office. It got worse. I was definitely hooked. This became a major romance. I had to get rid of her boyfriend, his name was Richard & used 'Sterling' as his nickname, as coined by him. A sterling person he was not, however. He had 'the' bachelor apartment ...in the decades later-named Hobbit House, in Culver City, California, ...and it was his girlfriend I was in love with (and eventually married). Here is a sketch he made of me...and girlfriend....and my dog...way back when, ...it sort of represents fairly well, me...and maybe foretold somewhat what happened not long after the sketch was made. Note the BMW-like motorcycle.
He had to go. I decided that the most very direct approach was called-for. I rode my motorcycle to where he lived. I purposely wore my boys-size boxing gym shirt that overly exhibited my biceps. He & I had a 'little talk', in his tiny bachelor apartment (that I then took over after he moved out, ....at my 'suggestion') ...whilst I 'played toss games' with one hand on his rather heavy dumbbell that he would struggle to lift, ...& "the rest of the message", ...much left unsaid ....got across. Truth was, he did not like her enough to want to try to keep her, & I wanted her, badly. It was the last time I did something I am as ashamed about. Amazing what love can do to one's morals. I got her & the bachelor apartment. I took over the lease on that bachelor apartment, in this unusual movie-set-looking building, now one of those historic buildings type of places; well known, decades later, as The Hobbit House. I can't find my photos of the bachelor apartment, but photos of my wife ...and our large apartment in the same building after we were married ....are in the photo galleries on this website. I chased her, ....until she caught me. We divorced a long time ago, we were both too immature at that time ...eventually we became friendly again, ...of a distant sort. Her name was Mary, but almost everyone called her Jonni. Jonni and new husband, Ed, whom I well knew, moved to Tahoe....must have been around 1971 or so. I eventually also moved to Tahoe.
At Lake Tahoe, Penny and I used to run into Jonni now & then, typically at the local college. Penny and I also used to run into her at one of the Old Estates (Valhalla) at Tahoe; where she used to be the blacksmith (yes, really, that wee small gal!). She is a pretty good artist in various mediums. Hard to live with a Mensa type though. I am sure Jonni felt the same about stubborn & technical me. If we had both been more mature, we'd likely still be married. She still lives at Lake Tahoe (daughter & son are well out of college & on their own). She ended up marrying my closest boyhood friend after we divorced. I married again, later, to that old boyhood friend's half-sister. These two ex-wives of mine LIVED TOGETHER at Tahoe for years. I stayed a bachelor for many years after the last divorce, until I met Penny. She's a KEEPER. We've been married a long time now. Are U Konfused? That's fine.
While at the West Los Angeles Honda Dealership where Jonni worked, the Honda 750 came out. One of my earliest sales of that model was to one of 'The Beach Boys, then one to one of The Monkeys. Wife-to-be & I got invited to one of their private parties. They found out I had a solid electronics background, knew & understood Club Sound, and Moog.....which led to all sorts of electronics work for musicians. I worked with the Jefferson Airplanes for a long time. I started to get a reputation as someone who knew musician's sound & equipment and I learned a fair amount about Moog electronics, & became a factory service center for Moog ...which came in handy. In those years, there were NO huge high powered outdoors audio equipment that one could purchase from a store, so I designed & built some.
I purchased the last original Porsche Speedster ever made, from Vasek Polak Porsche dealership. This was a used vehicle, a 1958 with many factory trick goodies. I won the first race I entered with it. I did not care, I had beaten Phil Hill, who I considered my personal rival ...that was ALL I cared about. Once I beat him, I stopped racing it. I raced my RS1500RS Spyder too, three times, but always worried about wrecking it, which I never did, luckily. Photos are in my photo galleries on this website.
I sold some more Honda motorcycles to entertainment industry folks. I found THAT type of sale to be surprisingly easy. NEVER figured out why the other sales guys did not catch on. For ME, I was sure why ....I was not overwhelmed by show biz folks, never ever in awe; & I was not pushy; I 'fit in'; &, I played jazz on the piano at various places. I also found show-folks super-vulnerable to the correct sales approach ....homey, friendly, never ever being pushy for them to buy something ...."...let's party, if ya wanna bike, we can talk, if not, I don't care if you don't care; ...heck, let's party...." We did, too. They never had any problems with credit departments, loans, etc.
As for the Honda's that we rode ....I think Mary (Jonni) may still have hers. She sold Ed's Honda 450. I used one of our 175 Honda's (earlier, had Honda 160's) as my pit bike at Bonneville in 1971, my 'helpers' were the two co-owner's, & an employee of Linear Corp, where I was Chief Engineer.
OH....that first ex-wife: about her 2nd Husband (me being 1st), my old friend Ed from my teen years, ....Ed killed himself. So much for growing up with a silver spoon in your mouth. He took a lot of years getting around to killing himself. Jean, his half-sister, was my second wife, we divorced around 1986 or so, but never did the final paperwork/separated ..until ~1991, ...she died in early 2014.
Perverse Sense Of Humor Department:
Before I officially proposed marriage to Penny, I had the opportunity to go on a mostly-free 2 week vacation, touring the Norwegian Fjords, etc., on a ferry ship. I promised Penny 'I would DECIDE about proposing', after my return. My intention was to drag the Proposal out for a couple of weeks after that trip, just me being asshole Mr. Perverse, riiiight? I had intended to do an interesting psychological number on Penny in how I actually did the Proposal. Perverse. Teasing, in a loving way (is that possible?). But, I was worried she'd 'get away', & I KNEW long before my Mid-June departure that I wanted to marry her. Maybe my proposal was helped along by her out-thinking me, as she said she'd be free to date, if she wanted, while I was gone, if I had not proposed first. SMART GAL! So, after 10 months or so of dating, I proposed to Penny BEFORE that trip, & we have been VERY happy ever since she said YES. So, two Senior Citizens met, fell in love & got married.
We arrived & departed the wedding using my K-bike sidecar rig. The wedding & potluck reception & picnic was held at the Genoa State Park (Nevada). I rented the entire park for the affair. Below are just two photos from early that day. The wind was blowing my hair & the tree foliage in the first photo. Yes, that's a Tux-T that I am wearing; and, those red and green suspenders relate to the Red/Green program (Canadian). The photo was taken early, by a passer-by, later all our friends and their children showed up & filled the Park. We were married by a Buddhist practitioner friend of ours. We remain in touch with her.
I've changed a fair amount since I met Penny. I've mellowed. I'm more lazy. I found reasons, sometimes, to not go riding, or flying. Some is likely due to aging; and rather too much is due to side effects of my cancer and heart drugs. Overall I am probably a nicer person (??). I often find myself going out of my way to do things to please Penny. I'm not as selfish, nor as self-centered. Strange how things sometimes happen. I both THINK-KNOW-FEEL, that I am married to the right woman for the rest of my life.
There are rare occasions when I am...or have been.... a total ass.
Before leaving Los Angeles I had a garage full of weird things such as my Norden Fuel Injectors & hopped up MG-TD;....just a lot of various time- consuming projects went away. I sold my airplane too, a Comanche 250. I disposed of my Vincents early-on, and later disposed of all but one of my dirt bikes, ...and a lot more.
Well after the final part of moving to Tahoe in 1973, and after I built a few hangars in a commercial project at Carson City Airport, I began using one hangar as a safe place to store some of my now re-growing stable of antique bikes. I ended up with 52 at one point. They are gone. So is my mortgage. So is the money that paid for hundreds of hours of flight in a variety of interesting craft. I probably over-paid my ex-wife Jean during our divorce, but she's dead now; and, anyway, that was a long time ago. I purchased several airplanes during the many years at Tahoe. At various times I had one of two Cessna 182's, a Twin Comanche, & the Pitts. I had an interest in a C-206 & a C-210. I had a short term interest in a military jet. I don't own airplanes anymore, they are very costly to own; particularly so when I am no longer in the Charter nor Flight Instruction business. I pretty much lost interest in flying, particularly since Penny isn't into sport flying. I still go flying occasionally, when I have the time....and the money ....to rent an airplane, which usually runs a few hundred dollars for a couple of hours.
I rented a house at S. Lake Tahoe for the first 4 years, then bought a house when still married to my now dead ex-wife, Jean. It was one of the smartest things I ever did, purchasing that house. I kept it as my share, when she & I divorced. She died in early 2014 in a nursing home.
My common nickname, 'Bob' became "Blinky" to some few of my friends, originally coined by a fellow rider, the Road Captain of a Club I rode with, who was quite annoyed by my headlight modulator, that I designed & built. To keep him even happier, I installed commercially-made headlight modulators on my other BMWs. I owned several small businesses. An aircraft radio sales-installation-repair did not work out. I had a precision machine shop; & next door to it I had a motorcycle repair service, mostly doing custom BMW work, rather than mundane stuff. I went back to work for The Agency on a couple of updated old projects, & a new one. I am now long completely separated from the Government. I am not a welcome figure in some Countries.
I still have my childhood business: Repairing HiFi, musician's electronics, & industrial electronics repairs (presently located in my garage-shop attached to my rented Carson City home).
When I moved to Tahoe, it was initially on one of my R75/5 bikes. On that first trip, I found out, whilst camping in the mountains overnight, that raccoons understand how to undo leather saddlebag straps & are attracted to peanut butter cookies.
I have belonged to many organizations & clubs and eventually quit most of them. I did, however, became a member of the local business & social community & other groups. I left some clubs because I did not feel the members were really helping the community. I found one Club that does help the community. Children and disabled adults is its focus.....the Kiwanis Club of Tahoe Sierra; another, even better, is the Optimists. These two local Clubs are Hands-On type ...not types that jusst get grants and doles out money. The particular Tahoe Kiwanis club I was a member of has a locally-famous Octoberfest fun-raiser, called the Septoberfest, because it is held in September every year. I have participated in many ways, including being the Programs Chair and running the MassKrug Stemmen stein-holding contest numerous times. Penny and I were on the Board of Directors. Penny was next in line to be President of our Kiwanis Club, and was the chairman of the Septoberfest for 2017, a huge responsibility. Penny resigned from the Club in 2017. I was still a Member, but did not stay in the club after the Sept. 2018 Septoberfest. At Carson City Penny started helping children to read at a local school. She did that previously at Tahoe too, after having given up being a Court Appointed Special Advocate for kids. At Carson City we both were getting more and more involved in our new Community....but this was put on hold since the corona virus pandemic situation...but now, in later 2021, things are slowly getting back to 'some sort of normal'; whatever that is going to end up being.
I'll backtrack a bit:
My most favorite dog, a Malamute (I did hundreds of miles of backpacking/camping with her), got cancer; I had to put her down. I have not had a dog since. Doubtful for the future. I've been saying that for years now.
A feral cat arrived at our house at Lake Tahoe... just walked into the house and adopted Penny & me; this was around 2006 or 2007. He had a unique personality, but eventually got taken by coyotes. We got another cat, from the Animal Shelter in late 2011. Cats have wildly different personalities, sometimes can be quite entertaining; but certainly are not the companions that dogs can be. I WANT another dog, but do NOT want to put out the energy/time to have one. The 2011 cat was Cat Of The Week, but had to be returned to the Shelter, in 2019, as we sold our Tahoe house, would be moving to Carson City, and couldn't have cats at our rental house in Carson City. In 2021 our Carson City Landlady surprised us by offering to let us get a cat ...but we'd have to pay a cat-deposit of $500. We selected an adult cat from the nearby animal shelter. Waldo II.
Way back in May of 2001 (or was it 2000?), I sold my then touring motorcycle, a 1983 BMW R100RT. I had purchased it brand-new in 1985 from a dealer-friend. My intention in 2001 (2000?) was to purchase (BMW-NA offered to sell me the bike) a brand-new BMW Oilhead Police Bike. I did not buy it, I got cold feet. I just could NOT see myself on a HEAVY R1100RTP or; later, a R1150RTP. A short while later I borrowed a 1970 R75/5 from a friend, with the agreement that I would restore it somewhat, & could ride it. It was that bike that I rode to the 1st of the two MOA National Rallies in Redmond Oregon. That R75/5 bike has long since gone back to its owner. BUT....in the months of that bike being ridden by me as I restored it, I re-acquired the Airhead bug. BAD. It had been a mistake to sell my R100RT. Luckily, the owner decided he was not an RT kinda guy, & he contacted me. I purchased back that 1983 R100RT & eventually converted it into a sidecar rig ....riding it as a solo until the sidecar attachments were all completed & ready. Along the way, I purchased another R100RT, a 1984, for a solo ride. In late 2005 I added a K1100LT to my garage, with an attached EML GT2 sidecar. I sold the R100RT with its sidecar, but it remained with me until the owner picked it up in Spring of 2006. In May of 2006 I 'visited' it, & Penny & I took a full day's jaunt on it, along with the owner driving his other rig. The rig I built is now owned by someone else again. I took Penny on a around-the-USA trip in 2008 on my final sidecar rig ...the K11 sidecar rig: https://bmwmotorcycletech.info/tripphotos.htm
I kept the 1984 R100RT solo bike. I sold it & the owner picked it up after maybe a year & a half! He did some touring on it for quite awhile, & left it at his North Carolina residence when he had to go "home" (Australia). In late September 2012 (??), the bike was shipped back to me. I serviced it, & rode it occasionally. Yes, we shared the bike during all this time. On January 7th, 2014, the owner picked up this bike (and a BMW HP2 that was also here); he also took all the Airhead tools & parts that I had sold him two years previously along with the bike.
For decades I thought I might not ever leave Lake Tahoe, except as ashes in a container to be spread over the mountains;.....I LOVE Tahoe. But, it was also not too many years ago that thoughts of a gentleman's ranchette someplace ....with huge workshop space; especially on a residential airpark; were still interesting me. I traveled with Penny to look at a home on a private grass airstrip in Oregon. I liked the place, Penny did not like it, as it was too isolated and distant from old friends and any city. The cost would have busted my financial situation (which I was OK with).
I had turned down my old friend/mentor Oak who offered me a situation on his 'Indiana ranch' location, to work with him on BMW bikes. I really wanted to quit working on bikes for other folks, and Oak's situation would mean being back into it full time. I am also just a Westerner at heart ....who loved Tahoe; and I like Carson City too. I turned Oak, R.I.P., down on his fine offer.
Penny and I had planned to sell out totally at Lake Tahoe ...house, furnishings, electronics shop, motorcycle, sidecar rig, most of my instruments and tools, etc. ...by late Spring of 2019 ...and move to Milwaukie (Oregon), to a small cottage, in a Continuing Care Retirement Community, for the rest of our lives. It would have been THE most trying time of my life (even worse than Viet Nam??), I think, to give up everything that is me and Tahoe. It was not to be. Perhaps it worked out best as it is, now....because we moved to Carson City, Nevada.
I had always had PSA tests done since, probably, my forties or so, & I kept records. That led to my May 2003 prostatectomy, done when my PSA started to rise too much too fast and biopsies showed cancer. No cancer was found outside of my prostate during the surgery. I kept my erection nerves too (they worked pretty good when I got the chance to exercise them). I know a LOT about Prostate Cancer because I jumped into learning about it, in my usual intense fashion. I know vastly more than most, even many doctors. I wrote a mostly technical article on it, it was peer reviewed and very lengthy. It was on the website you are reading. I tried to keep it up-to-date. I removed the article in November 2020, as I prepared for the final chapter of my life and the disposition of this website, and did not want the responsibility of keeping up that very long article. The article was last copied to one of the whole internet capturing sites, perhaps it was WayBack.com??...in, I think, March 2018. It is a great article, very heavily researched, I recommend it, but don't want it on this website any more, as I would have to keep it up.
In early 2004, during my yearly Flight Physical, I reported to the FAA, just like the rules say you must, that I'd had prostate cancer. The FAA changed me to a Third Class Medical Certification, which does not allow me to be the Pilot-in-Command for Commercial flying. In January, 2005, I got my Commercial Certificate back. I kept it until 2007, when I needed my cataracts fixed; after which I could apply to regain the Commercial again. I did so, & still have my Commercial certificate, unrestricted. Regular PSA testing showed no sign of any specific large prostate cancer recurrence; although the PSA was not zero....and....it began to very slowly increase over many years. Suddenly, in September 2018, it made a large jump, which was quite worrisome. Because it continued fast rising, I knew that some sort of prostate cancer tissue cells were still in me someplace, or many places. It had not show up on expensive imaging tests in late 2014 (a very sensitive new ultra-sensitive scan in late 2020 did show metastizing). My situation changed. My urologist put me on Lupron in early November of 2018. I Later, the Urologist added Casodex. The result of the two drugs was to reduce my testosterone to essentially zero. The result of either one of these two drugs is the castration level of testosterone.....AND....UNPLEASANT strong side-effects. The Casodex went bye bye on August 1st of 2021, in favor of very pricey Xtandi. I got a foundation to cover the copay (I have Part D insurance).
I had greatly mellowed and slowed down with my two surgeries (prostatectomy and dual inguinal hernia) in 2003, my selling of my share of the condo I co-owned in Palm Springs, & generally retracting into some sort of Tahoe-guy, Tahoe-life ...while trying to decide on how I wanted to live the rest of my life. For certain, I wanted to continue riding bikes & doing other physical things ...but found myself doing those things FAR less than I would like to, just did not feel like it as much as I did many years ago ...I simply had less energy. I recovered fairly well from the two 2003 surgeries. If I had not been in good physical condition then, things might have been vastly worse. BUT ...the prostatectomy took a lasting toll on me. I increased my Tahoe community involvements, but by end of Summer of 2018, as energy dropped again, I began reducing such involvements. My tolerance for heat continued to be poor. I found this out the hard way in 2016, when, in the Summer, I left on the sidecar rig for the USCA National Sidecar Rally, which meant a lot of miles in very hot weather. I finally gave up, and turned around after a miserable night spent in a tiny room at Middlegate, and returned home (mostly at night, when it was cool!).
With the serious return of the prostate cancer, and the taking of Lupron every 3 months since Nov. 2018, and Casodex since November of 2020, and now Xtandi in place of the Casodex, my life changed rather considerably. Until late 2019 I still went to a local gym, but not regularly enough. I worked in my electronics repair shop and I often spent hours at this computer working on my BMW techsite. The Shop income is small but it pays for utilities and a few minor frills, & I have the ego satisfaction of doing something useful...also keeps me out of being excessively in Penny's hair. I have a considerable number of customers from years ago that would never think of going to anyone else for their electronics repairs; and, have picked up a lot of new customers via recommendations that tend to spread by word-of-mouth, and from such as Google and Yelp and comments on those venues. I have the experience, the talent, & I do very high quality work. My business is now different than before where primarily it was repairing musician's electronics, although I still do that and quite a bit of HiFi, Industrial, and weird stuff. I also collect a small amount of Social Security & have a income from investments. My military pension, a considerable sum, still goes to charities. I sold or closed all the other businesses over a period of years. I have much less energy, and found myself rather slowed-down at going about upkeep/repairs/etc., on my motorcycles, ...now all gone, ....and I don't much miss the upkeep on the Tahoe house and property. I chalked it all up to advancing age ....and the cancer .....and, especially, its treatment. The drugs I take are ones that have been around for many many years, and are effective, but the side-effects are VERY unpleasant. As I type this in early October, 2021, I have just very recently...days ago...had a conversation with my Urologist, requesting his comments on doing a dual choriectomy on me. That is coming, soon. I hope at least SOME of the Lupron side-effects will lessen or go away, and I'll have a more pleasant life. I am even thinking (GADS!)...MOTORCYCLE! Electric??
While still living at Lake Tahoe, I stopped promoting the electronics business ...no display advertisement in the Yellow Pages, as an example. I didn't even have a business telephone listing. I passed out a business card once in awhile. In January of 2014, I finished making up a website for the business: https://fleischerelectronicsservice.com. Up until mid-Summer of 2019, the business was for sale, but I never pushed that at all. It was listed on that site and this site for $15K-18K. Since we moved to Carson City Nevada in late 2019 I have slowly sold things we did not need. We had an OK garage sale on June 12th, 2021, but we still have a huge amount of things taking up storage area here, and I am placing some items on my electronics business website for sale, and many other things are on this BMW website: https://bmwmotorcycletech.info/sale.htm
Jumping around a lot....
My closest friend from the 'Nam days told me some years ago that he wanted to build an airplane with my help ....or we could build TWO at the same time. That will now never happen; not enough time nor energy nor desire for either of us. His two sons are my Godchildren (well, one is officially, but I regard both as my Godchildren). One son joined the Army National Guard, but is not likely going to make the military his career. My bud was, for awhile, the Managing Editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. He lived in Bakersfield for years ....an "OK" place to visit, except in the Summertime, when it is very hot. I don't handle high heat well, as I've noted. My last trip to see him by motorcycle was to be in late 2017. I didn't make it. Did not make it in 2018, either. He died some months later, but I attended an ashes scattering, in the mountains of Lake Tahoe, with his two sons, my Godchildren, in 2019. I originally planned to have my ashes scattered at Ebbett's Pass, later to have it scattered in the Lake Tahoe Mountains exactly where his were scattered. In 2021 I decided to will my body to medical student instruction, and have done so, to the University of Nevada, Reno.
I had my own mid-life crisis; well, not really, but ...in early 2000 I purchased a new Mazda Miata sports car. I dared not to drive it wearing a beret (even someone like myself has SOME standards). Years later I did break-in my new motorcycle helmet. In the car. Top Down. Always creating a scene, EH?
A couple months before my 2003 prostate surgery, & needing to start making my life less hectic, fewer responsibilities, less outflow of money, and so on; ....I sold my super-hopped-up Dodge Power Wagon truck & sold my huge collection of parts for it. No more constant messing-around with that truck; ...and in November of 2003, right after my hernia surgery, I traded the Miata for a 1997 Nissan Pathfinder 4 wheel drive and the buyer included a nice bit of cash. The Pathfinder is a nice vehicle, perfectly suitable for my present & likely future needs. Older Pathfinders are one of the best SUV's, & not too big. I still have that SUV, our only car. We use walking, or our bicycles a lot.
When Penny and I got married, she had a 2WD Subaru sedan (yes, Subaru did make some 2WD cars). We were going to sell it in late Summer of 2012 & get her a Subaru Forester AWD. We decided to sell the 2WD & not have a 2nd car. After January 2014, when the last two 2-wheeled motorcycles left (temporarily), we had the Pathfinder, plus bicycles, the sidecar rig, and our feet. I acquired a 1995 R100RT which I did a lot to, .....it was to be my last-ever motorcycle. Due to the cancer, etc., I put it up for sale and it left me in 2019. Same for the sidecar rig. The 1995 R100RT may well have been the nicest one around.
https://bmwmotorcycletech.info/EMLsidecar8.htm scan down that article
I skied a fair amount every Winter, but that became less and less as I aged, and more and more of my time was being spent on the computer, on my BMW website, and, helping others with BMW problems. From 2017 I had been copying and editing many of my Airheads articles and ever-so-slowly placing them on the https://airheads.org/ website. This was done to increase the value of the Airheads Club Membership. That effort has now stopped. As of mid-2018, I finished the major work on the BMW website, which enabled the reduction of my keyboarding time. By the end of 2018 I was playing the piano a bit, working a bit, not riding bikes much. By mid-2019 I did not consider myself in good enough physical condition to ride briskly anymore. In anticipation of the move to Carson City, I sold my favorite piano, a Kawai grand. I miss it. I sold all of my larger machinery too. I sure miss the lathe.
I am getting slower, sometimes a bit forgetful, and tired more of the time. I do not wrench for others anymore. I rarely, now, am at Airhead TechDays. I still, even more rarely, do a Technical Seminar. The tiredness is coupled with ...maybe...getting a bit lazy. Once in awhile I do something exciting. I do remember, however, since it was not all that long ago, when I rode over 150 mph (considerably over 150) testing a VFR & two Hayabusa's, one of which was turbocharged. Since 2016-2017 there are fewer times where I purposely slide a motorcycle in a corner; ...usually it was when testing tires. In mid-2018 I finally stopped personally testing tires. Even though my reflexes and eyesight are still quite good, I just don't have the energy to do much riding. I am too weak to lift a heavy bike if it slides over, etc. SOME of this is ONE of the reasons I sold my bikes and sidecar rig (the larger reason was the original plans on moving to a place that had no garage nor workshop space...but, I do have such space now, in Carson City).
My eyesight is excellent, as far as clearness/focusing/ and so on....but not as good as what I'd like when suddenly transitioning from shaded roads to brightly lit road. Thus, another reason I am more conservative, even when in a car, let alone on a bike. Up until early 2019, I had a friend with interesting bikes to borrow, my favorite twisties burner was his Ninja 250; not overly powerful, but light & an excellent handler; but I am no longer riding it, nor his Ninja 500. I like VERY tight twisties ...turns that might be posted "10 MPH", narrow, bumpy, nasty ....especially the very narrow ones that are not on highways. Dirt riding is hard on me. I LOVE dirt biking. UNfortunately my back and present health situation does not. I have, essentially, given up flying and biking (except for bicycles). I am losing muscle mass, and losing bone mass. Not good for serious riding situations.
I no longer spend nearly as much time in responding on some Internet mailing LISTS; BMW groups on Facebook, etc. I'm still writing for bike and other magazines. I still keep-up my BMW website.
THE MAJOR effort in my late life (say, in 2019) was to prepare to sell out at Tahoe and move. We had been on the waiting list for a cottage in a CCRC in Oregon, called Rose Villa, for ~2 years. By Spring of 2019 we were no longer seeing movement of our position on the waiting list, and, after finding out the reason, we gave up the idea of Rose Villa in Milwaukie, Oregon, and moved to a rental house in Carson City, Nevada. But, having read all the previous verboseness of this article, you already know all that.
I said, much earlier, that I was not going to discuss Viet Nam, & so it will be. BUT....I no longer sleep with a .45 under my pillow. No nightmares. I don't have a little fragment of metal in my spine area anymore. The V.A. did not take the metal out, they refused, so a doctor friend did. Besides the cancer and A-fib problems, I have long had what is called Degenerative Disc Disease ....I've shrunk, & my back can act up, causing pain in my back, left leg, left foot. Sciatica of any kind can be painful at times. I've had mini-bouts of weak left leg attacks and almost let a motorcycle fall completely over, once, quite some years ago. I had thought I'd have to give up 2-wheeling in 2012, but managed to hang-in-there, & my reflexes & eyesight remained solidly good. As I type this paragraph update in June 2021, the Sciatica is not nearly as bothersome now (and I hope it remains so) due to certain exercises I do, ....and the arthritis and other back and left leg fun and games is also rather well under control.
Backtracking a lot of years: As noted previously, Penny & I got married. Following marriage came remodeling. This included brightening & slightly feminizing the Tahoe house, updating the kitchen counters & floors, major remodeling of one of the bathrooms, some remodeling on the second bathroom, fencing and yard things, & doing many things, especially outdoors, that Penny, my love, likes to do ...as I do. By the end of 2016 I had finished a new lower house roof, I had done it almost entirely by myself back in 1986, designing it as a double roof, which gave a lot of insulating qualities. The 2016 roof continued that idea. We then had only one major remodeling thing to do: new front fencing. I decided that removing the old front fence would please Penny more, and with some use of the old brick and mortar fence supports, and a lot of my labor, I made the front area look truly nice, with posts, LED solar lights, etc. I did it all, if slowly, and completed it in 2017.
I would have liked to remove the living room rug and install hardwood flooring, in a curved ship-like design of my own. It is not going to happen now that the house is no longer mine.
I sometimes will to do almost anything that puts a smile on my wife's face. If she mentions something, I typically just do it immediately. I still try to do that, cancer or not.
BUT.....the over-all trend, especially here at the new Carson City house, has been to complete 'projects', and not gain more projects, after all, we are nearing the end of our lives, and somewhat less responsibilities are a good thing now. The last of all the major projects at the Tahoe house was completed in 2018-2019. Here at the rental house in Carson City, in 2019-2020, I built a new shop; have a substantial shed, installed various systems like an internet and phone system, and Penny has been digging holes and planting trees; adding flowers/bushes/etc, and making a much nicer patio. I'm helping with a few things. I have no further major projects in mind, nor does Penny....except to continue to sell our unneeded things.
I set up a Trust, and work on it every January to keep it current. Main thing is to make things easier on Penny if I die first, which is very likely.
I have been known to get embarrassed on the dance floor, having three left feet sometimes. Penny convinced me to attend ballroom dancing classes at the local (S. Lake Tahoe) Community College in 2006-7 & we still go dancing, but much more rarely now though, and, with the Pandemic, not quite yet re-starting, at the Carson City Senior Center dances. I still have three left feet sometimes. We tried to learn the Latin Dances forms. I am actually ...SOMETIMES .... if not good, maybe OK.... at Rock 'n Roll dances, Texas two-step, Swing, Tango, Rhumba. For whatever reason, not very good at the Waltz. ChaCha? Salsa has always been difficult. Penny & I were once at the point where I think we could be, if we practiced, have our own personal form & steps. It became fun for me. I am comfortable enough now on the dance floor to occasionally take Penny to the dance floor as the first couple out there when the band or DJ starts playing. Sometimes we are the only couple dancing. All of this is not to mean ANYthing like I am really good at dancing. I'm NOT. Most of the time I am embarrassed at my memory lapses on the correct form and rhythms.
I volunteered to fix the computer network at the South Lake Tahoe Senior Center, and keep up their computers. It took about 3 hours a week in the beginning; and after nearly a year I had things working well, & I could do it in 3 hours a month. With the move to Carson City, Nevada, in late 2019, I stopped doing their computer upkeep work.
My heavy backpacking days are over. Probably my downhill skiing is also over. We may continue to do XC, together, as Penny does not like downhill. She dislikes being on ski lifts; and, hates the crazy uncontrolled skiers and boarders we see sometimes. We do a fair amount of bicycling and walking the trails and hills.
We live adequately on a limited income. We would have more money than to know what to do with if I had kept my pension instead of giving it permanently to a list of charities. I used to attend an occasional Airhead event ...such as a campout or TechDay. A Rally now & then. Do a Seminar now & then. A sidecar event now & then. Penny sometimes accompanied me. She preferred the sidecar rig over any two-wheeler ...and, in fact, would not ride behind me on a 2-wheeler at all, nothing new about that. She did not like having to swing her leg way up to get on any 2-wheeler & not having to move her head to see what is ahead of us, nor bump her helmet against mine. She preferred the car ....or the large sidecar, where there was a comfy seat, seatbelt, LOTS of room, etc. All the traveling is now down to 'hardly ever'. I keep up the website, do some electronics customer work, learn a bit more now and then about computers & software, enjoy life some of the time, although not so much enjoyment with the aches and pains and my cancer treatment side-effects. The Pandemic restrictions are now easing-up, so we will be able to see our sons and their family, and go out to eat now and then. I am well aware that we were VERY lucky to meet & fall in love as we entered our senior years. Penny was a very active person. She had been a very ardent long distance bicyclist for many years. She's close to my age and she, too, has slowed-down now; but much less than I have. Years ago, at age SIXTY ....she did a tandem bicycle ride across the USA ...from Seattle to Maine ...mostly camping along the way. She's also done many a Century and Double Century.
There is a SALE page on this website; that is not the same as the BargainBasement page on my electronics business website: https://fleischerelectronicsservice.com/.
I finally received my BMW factory 600K badge; in 2015.
Penny was quite active in our Tahoe community, even with our pending 2019 move, but she discontinued her involvement with the Bring Arts to the Schools program and she quit helping at the Juvenile Treatment Center; but was still involved with many other things, including at the Skilled Nursing Center at the local hospital; and her Ukulele groups, and helping elementary kids with reading, Meals on Wheels, etc. Some of those things will re-begin, or have rebegun, now that The Pandemic restrictions are, again, lifting. While still at Lake Tahoe, we joined the most active local Kiwanis group, which meant working together on programs for young folk; we left the groupd before moving. I dropped my membership in the Sons In Retirement, which is not involved with helping others, which is what Penny & I wish to make some spare time for. More on the Kiwanis situation was earlier in this article.....I resigned on October 3rd, 2018, so as to devote as much time as possible towards our moving in 2019. Penny also resigned from the Kiwanis Club. We continued to help, now and then, with Bread and Broth here at the Church, etc, until our move. I continued keeping up the Senior Center's computers until we moved, and doing many other things...just at a less energetic level. The entire situation is slightly depressing. But, what is, is.
In 2011 I taught and was the Keynote Speaker at SuperTech, held at Boyertown, in Pennsylvania. I was invited back, to do do it all again. That was the first weekend of February, 2019. https://bmwmotorcycletech.info/SuperTech.htm
It is very likely that the 2019 SuperTech was my last time.
Here are some quickie things:
I'm not really so cynical & curmudgeonly. I'm a pretty good cook; even capable of making exquisite pastries. I seldom need my, nor anyone's, cookbooks for anything. I can cook fancy ...or simply. I am especially interested in old-time cooking & presentations as done by expert chefs. My first-ever paid job, besides cutting lawns as a kid, was repairing the pump organ at that Catholic Church mentioned very early in this article, which was next door to the junkyard. I was 14. I spent some time, when stationed at the Vandenberg AF Base area, at the local dairy owned then by the government, getting a cream separator working, it had never been previously connected into the milk system. They had a lot of cows, & in calving season there was a lot of colostrum collected by the dairy folks they could not use. I saw to the proper installation of the cream separator, & I personally made the first batch of ice cream the dairy had ever made, using that cream separator ... with a VERY generous amount of the colostrums, ... using military-furnished vanilla/chocolate powder. The butterfat content must have been atrocious. It was the 'richest' ice cream I ever ate, & probably that anyone ever ate. It bordered on greasy. I made the second batch (peach) lighter, but still it was very high in butter-fat. For the last batch I made there, I used Mexican liquid vanilla, very pungent. DELICIOUS!! It was French Vanilla ice cream taken to extremes! I did custom electronics repair work for Willie Nelson ....and his Baldwin amplifier restoration by me is a story all by itself. I had a fun & games time when, after I finishing Basic Training, I awoke one morning after being WAY too drunk the night previously (celebrating living through Basic Training, ...well, not exactly!), in, I thought at first, San Diego, ....and....finding the SUN rising on the beach ...a long story. The Sun does NOT rise on the beach in California. I finally put some of the details in this bio. Penny & I are quite familiar with organizing & running a motorcycle rally ....we were the Organizers & Hosts for the 2009 National Sidecar Rally at Lake Tahoe. It is a tremendous amount of work. It went quite well, with wonderful write-ups in the newspaper, on local TV and radio ...and from many attendees ...but I did not like the lack of appreciation from the United Sidecar Association's Board of Directors. I didn't like their early-on comments about things either. We bent over backwards to accommodate all of their wishes, ....except; and the problem the Board had;..... we could NOT allow dogs, due to Forest Service requirements. Some members insisted that they HAD to have a venue that allowed dogs in the future. Feeling put-upon, after a year of hard work, & unappreciated, I dropped my membership. I did not thereafter attend ANY of their events. I still recommended the organization. By the end of 2013, I had mellowed some, ... and with the death of the head of the USCA (Joyce Canfield) (with whom I had almost feuded with over the Forest Service not allowing dogs at the rally...and she insisting on dogs) in early February of 2014, I rejoined the USCA. Now that my sidecar rig has been sold, I have let my membership lapse, permanently. I "STOLE" Donny Vesco's ride (Donny KNEW ahead of time I would), a factory Honda race bike, that he was testing ...and ......helping publicize for Honda ....at Willow Springs Racetrack. I rode it around the track for a FEW FAST LAPS, then left it near the Pits, and then high-tailed-it out of there! I was very familiar with racing on that track. I may have been the earliest Fully Emancipated Juvenile in the State of California. I like elk meat, wild smoked salmon, sushi, pickled fish heads soup, pastries, dark beer, strong ales ... & very smoky single malt Scotch ...such as Lagavulin. My 'fashion consciousness' was & is not much. I guess THAT has continued, as my wife, Penny, does feel it necessary to sometimes point out how much of a sloppy dresser I am. I prefer old worn comfortable clothes, particularly in my shop. She sometimes "helps" me make decisions on what I should be wearing. I'm quite happy in comfortable old shirts & pants with wear-holes in them, at least around the house and shop. I have few close friends now, some of which are gay. Some of this is my own fault, as I've always been somewhat of a Loner; more is (?) due to me getting quite old, and my old friends are dying. I have a wickedly perverse sense of humor at times; sometimes it is 'stick it in your face'. I used to play piano at gay events in Palm Springs, and I personally opened the Gay Pride Parade there one year ...on my Vespa Scooter, sporting a rainbow sunrise decal, and a USMC emblem, ...which drove a few ex-military guys crazy. I no longer own airplanes; they are a huge expense, particularly if not being used to generate income. On top of which, Penny has had her fill of flying in small airplanes, carrying babies, back and forth across the USA between military bases/assignments, and does not wish to fly again in small airplanes, babies or not. I, of course, manage to have fun now and then, doing aerobatics in borrowed 'toys'.....which I do not tell Penny about. I am going to quit flying eventually, .........but I have been saying that for some time. I think I have convinced Penny that a flight on my birthdays is appropriate, and such has been My New Habit, since 2017. The following is something I wrote early in the wee hours the morning of December 6th, 2012, slightly edited (mostly to fix typos): "" Dave's death hit me harder than I realized. I went to bed thinking about that, and I woke up very early in the morning, still thinking over his music's influence on me .... & thinking about my own life back in the fifties. Few know that I studied piano for a very long time, and could have ended up as a featured player or a concert pianist. I did not have the talent, nor drive, to become a big headliner, I knew it; & all the forced-practice caused me to rebel more & more against my parents. Brubeck's use of interesting time signatures; not to mention the smoothness, polyphonic, polytonality, & polyrhythmics he is so known for ....the ideas in his (and Paul's) compositions, ....all were very influential on me. His duo with Desmond, 1953 (??), was recorded, and I obtained a copy, & played it over & over. I still have it. Desmond wrote a goodly amount of Dave's music, & hearing the two of them together was a thrill for me. I was ~14 to ~19 when his influence was at its maximum on me. I did my second piano recital when in my mid-teens at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. I played two classical pieces; & then used Brubeck's influence on me quite heavily in my encore (which I wrote), which, today, might be called something like Turned-On-Bach. This had quite an effect on the audience; which was there, they thought, only to see & hear classical music. I'll bet 99% of the audience were siblings, parents, relatives & friends of the three of us teens that had our time on the stage. The audience was thrilled. My piano teacher was not. But, for awhile, I had a very swelled-head from the applause. I had been classically-trained, except for a scarcity of musical theory. My parents had me headed for a career as a doctor or a concert pianist; the thoughts of which were quite unpleasant for me & were largely responsible for me leaving home (several times!!) when a teenager. The '52 & '55 concerts resulted in a lot of applause, which stroked my ego mightily ....but the last one (where I did the Brubeck-influenced Bach) also resulted in my piano teacher never talking to me again; & shortly afterwards a final turn away from a possible musical career. I had always wanted to be an engineer since quite young, much to the chagrin of my parents who strived mightily, after the piano fiasco, to get me to then go to medical school, which I ended up doing to placate them, and for just for my first year at UCLA. "Medical School" at UCLA was then in some out-buildings, & was nothing too much more, the first year, except an extra course in biology. Well, a bit more. One of the highlights of my teen years was going to a small "Club" (The Malibu Cottage), to which only musicians went, it was not open to the public. I got invited through the efforts of my mother's brother, Samuel Tenn, who had been a trumpeter with the Stan Kenton Band. I had been moonlighting, as we call it now, at The Lighthouse (see the link, & Howie Rumsey's band info) ....I was the scrawny underage kid at the piano. It started when I was too young to drive, so I would often bicycle the 24 or so miles round trip. I had legs of iron then. See:
https://www.thelighthousecafe.net/history. I was also moonlighting at a large 'coffee house' on the top of the Malibu Hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean.....and....at an infamous queer (gay) bar in Santa Monica canyon. Dave dropped-in late one evening, at The Cottage. It was WAY late, & my parents (who had nearly resigned themselves to my becoming an engineer) & uncle had conspired to get me there, knowing ahead of time. At least I THINK my parents were in on this. WOW!!!! Brubeck was there!!!! He wasn't the only famous, or nearly famous, jazz artist there. BTW ...my favorite that evening was Brubeck playing something that was based on something Bach originally composed. I had a terrible time trying to play what I could remember of Dave's interpretation, the next day. I later furnished a recording to him of my earlier 1955 Recital attempts at emulating his style (and, yes, Bach!). I was nearly too shy to speak to Brubeck about those Bach improvisations attempts, but did so anyway. The Malibu Cottage, long gone now, was an interesting place. I spent a very satisfying amount of time there, and especially a very satisfying weekend with a very sexy woman named Eartha. I suppose this is what old guys do, reminisce about their younger years. Side note: The late, great, Oak (Orlando Okleshen) & I had many telephone calls, typed letters, & sketches, back & forth about BMW bike repairs, but we also discussed the Railsback effect on piano tuning, and many other things, many years ago now. I will bet less than 1% of pro piano players have heard of Railsback. I have no intention of expanding this bio into our many decades friendship.
I have strong tendencies of a classical romanticist.
I am very interested in history, particularly of the USA.
I often wonder about what makes people think and act like they do.
Dave Brubeck died yesterday.
Addendum, Dec. 9th, 2020:
Chuck Yeager died. 97, I think he was. I had met him, back at Pancho's Place, a very long time ago. I was not friendly with him back then, and I was not very interested in airplanes/flying/etc, THEN. His death (yesterday) was notable, but of no big thing for me, like Dave Brubeck's. Maybe I will think differently as time goes on......almost seems sacrilegious to not honor or pay homage to Chuck, here, EH?
I update this long bio now and then. Sometimes I even edit it to reduce the rambling forwards and backwards in time that causes a reader to get confused on dates. Lots more to do, eventually, in that regards. My health has remained much the same, with some deterioration ...more tiredness and insomnia, and some aches and pains ...and, side-effects of my medicines. The corona-virus shutdown affected everyone, but Penny and I have remained free of the virus, we've had our vaccinations; I have had three. I've been certain that if I got the Covid virus that it would kill me unpleasantly, and over a year of our lives is mostly missing due to the precautions we had to make. The electronics repair business is always busy now. We had not gone much of anyplace;...but, now are beginning to, besides our walks, bicycling, and to the supermarket for food. I haven't written about these trips. A TechDay, not too far away, yes. Some bus trips to places like Napa, etc., yes. Will we do more?...probably much more. So, we are adding back things we used to do...and the occasional new thing.
I'm a pretty good cook; even capable of making exquisite pastries. I seldom need my, nor anyone's, cookbooks for anything. I can cook fancy ...or simply. I am especially interested in old-time cooking & presentations as done by expert chefs.
My first-ever paid job, besides cutting lawns as a kid, was repairing the pump organ at that Catholic Church mentioned very early in this article, which was next door to the junkyard. I was 14.
I spent some time, when stationed at the Vandenberg AF Base area, at the local dairy owned then by the government, getting a cream separator working, it had never been previously connected into the milk system. They had a lot of cows, & in calving season there was a lot of colostrum collected by the dairy folks they could not use. I saw to the proper installation of the cream separator, & I personally made the first batch of ice cream the dairy had ever made, using that cream separator ... with a VERY generous amount of the colostrums, ... using military-furnished vanilla/chocolate powder. The butterfat content must have been atrocious. It was the 'richest' ice cream I ever ate, & probably that anyone ever ate. It bordered on greasy. I made the second batch (peach) lighter, but still it was very high in butter-fat. For the last batch I made there, I used Mexican liquid vanilla, very pungent. DELICIOUS!! It was French Vanilla ice cream taken to extremes!
I did custom electronics repair work for Willie Nelson ....and his Baldwin amplifier restoration by me is a story all by itself.
I had a fun & games time when, after I finishing Basic Training, I awoke one morning after being WAY too drunk the night previously (celebrating living through Basic Training, ...well, not exactly!), in, I thought at first, San Diego, ....and....finding the SUN rising on the beach ...a long story. The Sun does NOT rise on the beach in California. I finally put some of the details in this bio.
Penny & I are quite familiar with organizing & running a motorcycle rally ....we were the Organizers & Hosts for the 2009 National Sidecar Rally at Lake Tahoe. It is a tremendous amount of work. It went quite well, with wonderful write-ups in the newspaper, on local TV and radio ...and from many attendees ...but I did not like the lack of appreciation from the United Sidecar Association's Board of Directors. I didn't like their early-on comments about things either. We bent over backwards to accommodate all of their wishes, ....except; and the problem the Board had;..... we could NOT allow dogs, due to Forest Service requirements. Some members insisted that they HAD to have a venue that allowed dogs in the future. Feeling put-upon, after a year of hard work, & unappreciated, I dropped my membership. I did not thereafter attend ANY of their events. I still recommended the organization. By the end of 2013, I had mellowed some, ... and with the death of the head of the USCA (Joyce Canfield) (with whom I had almost feuded with over the Forest Service not allowing dogs at the rally...and she insisting on dogs) in early February of 2014, I rejoined the USCA. Now that my sidecar rig has been sold, I have let my membership lapse, permanently.
I "STOLE" Donny Vesco's ride (Donny KNEW ahead of time I would), a factory Honda race bike, that he was testing ...and ......helping publicize for Honda ....at Willow Springs Racetrack. I rode it around the track for a FEW FAST LAPS, then left it near the Pits, and then high-tailed-it out of there! I was very familiar with racing on that track.
I may have been the earliest Fully Emancipated Juvenile in the State of California.
I like elk meat, wild smoked salmon, sushi, pickled fish heads soup, pastries, dark beer, strong ales ... & very smoky single malt Scotch ...such as Lagavulin.
My 'fashion consciousness' was & is not much. I guess THAT has continued, as my wife, Penny, does feel it necessary to sometimes point out how much of a sloppy dresser I am. I prefer old worn comfortable clothes, particularly in my shop. She sometimes "helps" me make decisions on what I should be wearing. I'm quite happy in comfortable old shirts & pants with wear-holes in them, at least around the house and shop.
I have few close friends now, some of which are gay. Some of this is my own fault, as I've always been somewhat of a Loner; more is (?) due to me getting quite old, and my old friends are dying.
I have a wickedly perverse sense of humor at times; sometimes it is 'stick it in your face'.
I used to play piano at gay events in Palm Springs, and I personally opened the Gay Pride Parade there one year ...on my Vespa Scooter, sporting a rainbow sunrise decal, and a USMC emblem, ...which drove a few ex-military guys crazy.
I no longer own airplanes; they are a huge expense, particularly if not being used to generate income. On top of which, Penny has had her fill of flying in small airplanes, carrying babies, back and forth across the USA between military bases/assignments, and does not wish to fly again in small airplanes, babies or not. I, of course, manage to have fun now and then, doing aerobatics in borrowed 'toys'.....which I do not tell Penny about. I am going to quit flying eventually, .........but I have been saying that for some time. I think I have convinced Penny that a flight on my birthdays is appropriate, and such has been My New Habit, since 2017.
The following is something I wrote early in the wee hours the morning of December 6th, 2012, slightly edited (mostly to fix typos):
Dave's death hit me harder than I realized. I went to bed thinking about that, and I woke up very early in the morning, still thinking over his music's influence on me .... & thinking about my own life back in the fifties. Few know that I studied piano for a very long time, and could have ended up as a featured player or a concert pianist. I did not have the talent, nor drive, to become a big headliner, I knew it; & all the forced-practice caused me to rebel more & more against my parents.
Brubeck's use of interesting time signatures; not to mention the smoothness, polyphonic, polytonality, & polyrhythmics he is so known for ....the ideas in his (and Paul's) compositions, ....all were very influential on me. His duo with Desmond, 1953 (??), was recorded, and I obtained a copy, & played it over & over. I still have it. Desmond wrote a goodly amount of Dave's music, & hearing the two of them together was a thrill for me. I was ~14 to ~19 when his influence was at its maximum on me. I did my second piano recital when in my mid-teens at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium. I played two classical pieces; & then used Brubeck's influence on me quite heavily in my encore (which I wrote), which, today, might be called something like Turned-On-Bach. This had quite an effect on the audience; which was there, they thought, only to see & hear classical music. I'll bet 99% of the audience were siblings, parents, relatives & friends of the three of us teens that had our time on the stage. The audience was thrilled. My piano teacher was not. But, for awhile, I had a very swelled-head from the applause.
I had been classically-trained, except for a scarcity of musical theory. My parents had me headed for a career as a doctor or a concert pianist; the thoughts of which were quite unpleasant for me & were largely responsible for me leaving home (several times!!) when a teenager. The '52 & '55 concerts resulted in a lot of applause, which stroked my ego mightily ....but the last one (where I did the Brubeck-influenced Bach) also resulted in my piano teacher never talking to me again; & shortly afterwards a final turn away from a possible musical career. I had always wanted to be an engineer since quite young, much to the chagrin of my parents who strived mightily, after the piano fiasco, to get me to then go to medical school, which I ended up doing to placate them, and for just for my first year at UCLA. "Medical School" at UCLA was then in some out-buildings, & was nothing too much more, the first year, except an extra course in biology. Well, a bit more.
One of the highlights of my teen years was going to a small "Club" (The Malibu Cottage), to which only musicians went, it was not open to the public. I got invited through the efforts of my mother's brother, Samuel Tenn, who had been a trumpeter with the Stan Kenton Band. I had been moonlighting, as we call it now, at The Lighthouse (see the link, & Howie Rumsey's band info) ....I was the scrawny underage kid at the piano. It started when I was too young to drive, so I would often bicycle the 24 or so miles round trip. I had legs of iron then. See: https://www.thelighthousecafe.net/history. I was also moonlighting at a large 'coffee house' on the top of the Malibu Hills overlooking the Pacific Ocean.....and....at an infamous queer (gay) bar in Santa Monica canyon.
Dave dropped-in late one evening, at The Cottage. It was WAY late, & my parents (who had nearly resigned themselves to my becoming an engineer) & uncle had conspired to get me there, knowing ahead of time. At least I THINK my parents were in on this. WOW!!!! Brubeck was there!!!! He wasn't the only famous, or nearly famous, jazz artist there. BTW ...my favorite that evening was Brubeck playing something that was based on something Bach originally composed. I had a terrible time trying to play what I could remember of Dave's interpretation, the next day. I later furnished a recording to him of my earlier 1955 Recital attempts at emulating his style (and, yes, Bach!). I was nearly too shy to speak to Brubeck about those Bach improvisations attempts, but did so anyway. The Malibu Cottage, long gone now, was an interesting place. I spent a very satisfying amount of time there, and especially a very satisfying weekend with a very sexy woman named Eartha.
I suppose this is what old guys do, reminisce about their younger years.
Side note: The late, great, Oak (Orlando Okleshen) & I had many telephone calls, typed letters, & sketches, back & forth about BMW bike repairs, but we also discussed the Railsback effect on piano tuning, and many other things, many years ago now. I will bet less than 1% of pro piano players have heard of Railsback. I have no intention of expanding this bio into our many decades friendship.
I play the piano a bit, cook a bit, participate on the Airhead List, etc. The rear yard has been worked-on by mostly Penny, and looks better and better; except in Winter bleekness. I did not do downhill skiing the 2019-2020 nor 2020-2021 ski seasons. I may never ski again. We have the new house 100% moved-in and 99% sorted out. We still do not have a good idea of what sort of lifestyle we will have after, perhaps, Summer of 2021. Probably we will do a number of trips with other old folks, using a chartered bus, or, drive ourselves, and we likely will do things with Road Scholar. I do not yet have a good idea of how much longer I will live; my guess is maybe to 2024. But, I may be lucky and live far longer.
During the Pandemic's major portion in the USA, it was lonely, as we hardly ever visited anyone, and same for them visiting us. We wore masks if going to the market or other stores. We could not allow sons and family to visit, let alone stay here. BUT, now that we have had our 2nd shots (3 for me) and are fully vaccinated, and public things are getting less restrictive, we are making plans to go out more, but, hating the thought of commercial flying, we decided not to attend #2 son's wedding, in October 2021 (in Indiana). I am continuing to sell stuff I don't need, at bargain prices. https://bmwmotorcycletech.info/sale.htm
Contacting Snowbum (click!)
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