Tag Archive: NASA


“This is the greatest generation any society has ever produced.” – Tom Brokaw

“To whom much is given, from him (or her) much is expected.” – Luke 12:48

Every day is a gift.

For my mother Marjorie, April 4, 2019 is day #36,500 … to be exact.

Please feel free to double-check the math: 365 days x 100 years = 36,500.

Even though a critical mass of our extended family celebrated her birthday during spring break (March 23), today marks 100 years since my mom came into the world.

For Almost DailyBrett it’s extremely difficult – if not impossible – to make a third-person singular assessment of the woman who provided the ultimate first-person singular experience: My own birth.

Therefore your author has to acknowledge right here and now: The following epistle is woefully biased, and there is no remedy in sight.

Let’s get to the point: Marjorie M. Brett is without doubt, a superb representative of the “Greatest Generation.”

Her father, Randolph Myers, lived to his 100th birthday and beyond. He was as sharp as a tack at the community celebration of his century birthday in 1989. Ditto for Mumsy. Longevity runs on the Myers side of the family … and follicly challenged dudes too.

She may have slowed a tad here and there, but that didn’t stop California DMV from renewing her driver’s license for another five years.

And what a century it has been. We are now blessed to join her as she embarks on her second 100 years.

An Amazing Century For The Ultimate Go-Getter

Que será, será; Whatever will be, will be; The future’s not ours to see; Que será, será; What will be, will be.”

Sorry Doris Day: Que será, será is NOT my mother’s motto … not even close.

Similar to her father, Marjorie Myers Brett, is a supreme doer and an impressive achiever.

As Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher reportedly said: “Life must have purpose.” My mother’s life has purpose in spades.

It’s simply amazing to ponder what she witnessed, endured and celebrated during her incredible tenure on the earth from 1919 to 2019 … and counting.

Growing up as the daughter of a Western Pennsylvania lawyer, my mother witnessed the Great Depression, World War II, gave birth and raised three Baby Boomers; marveled as man walked on the moon, and now watches her AI vacuum cleaner “Rob” beautify her floors with more technology horsepower than NASA possessed when Neil Armstrong descended to the lunar landscape.

Without doubt, she did not approve of everything that transpired during the past century … she cared too much. Her laser-like focus does not permit nuances. She assesses white from black, good from bad, useful from irrelevant. She calls ’em as she sees ’em. She leaves diplomacy to others.

Her over-achieving worldly father did not have patience for those who wasted time. There was no teenage wasteland with “Pappy.”

The same is true with mother, one of the few liberated women of her time who earned a college degree, who taught classical piano to musicians, and who spoke confident French in the cafes on the Île Saint-Louis. There is no reverse gear with my mom’s transmission, let alone neutral. It’s petal to the metal, all the way.

One can argue that much was given to my mother, but at the same time much more was expected. She responded with an overachieving life, confronting and surmounting every challenge thrown her way to our fast-changing increasingly complex digital world.

Today’s widespread male parasite plague of doing nada, exhibiting zero pride and leaving it to women to take care of them, was not even remotely fathomable for any son of Marjorie M. Brett.

Even though the punitive word “privilege” raises the blood-pressure of your author, my mother provided me with winning biological lottery advantages (much is given), but she also was strict, demanding … yet understanding (much is expected).

It was sink or swim.

Your author would not be the person he is today without the caring, guidance, encouragement and love provided by my mother.

Mumsy will never admit to this statement, but it’s nonetheless true: The world is a better place because of the century-long contributions … both large and small … of one Marjorie M. Brett.

I am not worthy, but eternally thankful.

Love you, mom. Always have. Always will.

 

 

 

 

“A slave stood behind the conqueror holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning: that all glory is fleeting.” – General George S. Patton

A happy problem, but still a dilemma, for organizations/movements/great leaders, who have just achieved long-sought landmark accomplishments, is: What will you do for an encore?

For championship college and professional sports teams the answer is relatively easy to state, harder to achieve: repeat. The Chicago Blackhawks are tasked with skating the Stanley Cup for the fourth time in seven seasons next spring. The Golden State Warriors are faced with the challenge of winning back-to-back NBA titles, something that has never occurred in the franchise’s mostly desultory history.

[UNVERIFIED CONTENT] Gay-rights activists gathered outside of the Supreme Court on the morning when the Court handed down its decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.

[UNVERIFIED CONTENT] Gay-rights activists gathered outside of the Supreme Court on the morning when the Court handed down its decision to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act.

For the same-sex marriage movement the June 26 Supreme Court ruling, legalizing the right of gay people to marry, was made by a razor-thin 5-4 Obergefell v. Hodges decision. The impact nonetheless was 50-0 as every state is immediately and permanently required to permit the performing of same-sex unions, and to recognize their legality regardless of where or how (e.g., civil, religious) they occur.

The next question, which has already been posed by The New York Times and others, for the successful civil rights campaign, is what comes next? The answer will come in the form of celebrating a great political and society victory (e.g., Pride Parades). Eventually, the cheering will subside and the reality of everyday life and the challenge of American politics returns. Now what? Certainly, there is the continued necessity of protecting hard-earned rights and preventing discrimination, and that makes sense; still the question must be posed:

What comes next?

This is an easy question to pose, much more difficult to answer … and with it, the dilemma that has vexed organizations, movements and great characters throughout the course of history.

“One Small Step for Man; One Giant Leap for Mankind”

Let’s face it: NASA has not been the same since 1969.armstrongmoon

Neil Armstrong defied death, and made it to-and-from the moon with far less computing power than can be found in a modern-day smart phone. The first man on the moon had his ticker tape parade upon returning to Mother Earth. His place in the history books is cemented. Undoubtedly, his obits had already been written by the day the Grim Reaper came-a-calling in 2012.

In the face of competing budgetary demands and $18 trillion in record red ink and counting at $3.3 billion per day at the federal level, NASA has become just another agency with a huge public relations problem as it must justify its existence in the absence of any realistic plans to put humans on other planets anytime soon.

The current edition of National Geographic has a cover story about NASA, the New Horizons spacecraft, and hopefully the first ever photos of Pluto, expected on July 14. Checking out the last planet of the solar system is cool, but Armstrong walking on the moon was legendary.

Gone are the days of John F. Kennedy and the Cold War competition and the call to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s. Yes, we won that technology contest against the Soviet Union, and just 22 years after Armstrong walked on the moon, the USSR collapsed. Russia has hardly bothered us since then.

Not as momentous as the Supreme Court’s landmark decision on same-sex marriage or Neil Armstrong walking on the moon was an accomplishment dear to the heat of the author of Almost DailyBrett: The opening of the long closed Japan market to foreign designed-and-manufactured semiconductors, including those originating from Silicon Valley.siliconwafer

In my tenure as the director of communications for the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) and later as the director of corporate public relations for LSI Logic, yours truly worked for three years on this contentious issue.

At one time, Japan was in its ascendancy having driven Intel Corporation out of the DRAM (dynamic random access memory) market, a technology Intel actually invented. The U.S. semiconductor industry was being ushered into oblivion in the 1980s by Japan Inc.’s “Business is War” practices, the same fate that fell upon America’s pioneering color-TV industry.

The SIA and its members worked with Washington D.C. to stop predatory pricing or dumping of Japanese chips below cost, and finally pried open the Japanese market in 1996. The opening of  Japan and the decades-long recession eased the Japanese competitive threat. The U.S. industry achieved a great victory, but then … you guessed it … the question ensued: What was next for the SIA and its members?

Just like NASA, the SIA has tried one gambit after another to recapture its sense of purpose. The problem is that without an overriding issue (e.g., man on the moon, opening the Japan market), organizations and even individuals (e.g., General Patton when World War II ended) in many cases are never the same again.pattonscott

The war has been won. The cheering has subsided. The reality of what have you done lately ensues. An organization’s, movement’s, leader’s raison d’etre is no longer certain. A new public relations challenge comes to the forefront with no easy answers.

Some organizations, movements and leaders have successfully met the challenge of victory, while others face internal dissension as they struggle to come up with an answer to precisely what they should do for Act II.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/gay-marriage-and-other-major-rulings-at-the-supreme-court/2015/06/25/ef75a120-1b6d-11e5-bd7f-4611a60dd8e5_story.html?wpisrc=nl_evening&wpmm=1

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/28/us/gay-rights-leaders-push-for-federal-civil-rights-protections.html?smprod=nytcore-ipad&smid=nytcore-ipad-share&_r=0

http://www.biography.com/people/neil-armstrong-9188943

http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/632929-for-over-a-thousand-years-roman-conquerors-returning-from-the

 

 

 

“Just me and him in a room for 10 minutes.” – John Roseboro talking about Juan Marichal shortly after being clobbered in a bat-swinging brawl in 1965

MarichalRoseboro2

“There were no hard feelings on my part, and I thought if that was made public, people would believe that this was really over with. So I saw him at a Dodger old-timers’ game, and we posed for pictures together, and I actually visited him in the Dominican (Republic). The next year, he was in the Hall of Fame. Hey, over the years, you learn to forget things.” – Roseboro talking about forgiving Marichal

“(Roseboro) forgiving (me) was one of the best things that happened in my life.” – Juan Marichal eulogizing John Roseboro in 2002

Fifty years ago was the Year of “Satisfaction.”

NASA’s Project Gemini was paving the way for Neil Armstrong to walk on the Moon just four years later.

1965 was also the year that San Francisco pitcher Juan Marichal frightenly clobbered Los Angeles catcher John Roseboro on the head with a baseball bat.

The author of Almost DailyBrett was only 10 years-young at the time, and still remembers this August 22 brawl as if it was just yesterday.

Contemplating the incident a half-century later, one can easily conclude that Roseboro, who had every reason to hold an eternal grudge against Marichal, was a better human being than the vast majority of us.

Juan Marichal Hitting Catcher John Roseboro

He was not only willing to forgive; he even flew his family to the Dominican Republic to spend time with Marichal and his family. Maybe San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers fans can learn something from this story. Baseball is only a game and sometimes emotions get high, but what is really important in life?

And when Roseboro eventually succumbed to a series of strokes and prostate cancer in 2002, the Roseboro family wanted Marichal, “The “Dominican Dandy” to not only be one of the pallbearers at catcher’s funeral service, but to actually deliver one of the eulogies.

In these days of institutional gridlock and permanent feuding, maybe we should contemplate Roseboro’s remarkable willingness to forgive, although he certainly never forgot. He was hit on the head with a baseball bat, an act that potentially could have been fatal … and yet …he was the bigger man.

Why Are We So Easily Offended?

“Love is patient, love is kind … it keeps no record of wrongs.” — 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

”Johnny, Johnny, I’m so sorry.” – Willie Mays Serving as a Peacemaker immediately following the bat-swinging brawl

Writing Almost DailyBrett in many ways is the equivalent of walking across a mine field.

You know deep down inside that one of these incendiary devices (e.g., blog posts) will go boom and pow now and then. The subject could be relatively benign, such as the choice of gluten free foods or more serious including: graduate teaching fellows going on strike; widowers daring to date again and without forgetting the dearly departed; or even preferring to go to the Rose Bowl over a family gathering.

It seems as if Hatfield’s vs. McCoy’s-style of feuding and pettiness is way too prevalent in our society with perpetual keeping of score of real and perceived transgressions. For Roseboro, he knew what Marichal inflicted on him in the heat of battle, and yet he was not only willing to forgive he developed a lifetime friendship with Marichal and his family.

Remembering a Better Man

“I wish I could have had John Roseboro as my catcher.” – Marichal speaking at Roseboro’s funeral in 2002

You wouldn’t blame Marichal for being humbled, and a little bit sheepish delivering the eulogy at the service commemorating the life of John Roseboro.MarichalRoseboro1

Roseboro had every reason for a lifelong beef against Marichal. And yet he realized the brawl was keeping Marichal out of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He (Roseboro) knew that sending the signal that the brawl was history was the way to ensure that Marichal was enshrined in Cooperstown.

How many of us would do that? How many of us are not on speaking terms with a wide variety of people, and for what reason? Can we even remember?

Maybe Doris Day had it right: “Que Sera, Sera”, (Whatever will be, will be).

Or better yet, Roseboro had it right. Pathos subsides. Time moves on. Life is too short. Make peace. Enjoy our limited time on Earth.

Sounds like good advice to all of us, including the author of Almost DailyBrett.

http://www.cbssports.com/mlb/eye-on-baseball/24368857/two-amazing-photos-of-famous-juan-marichaljohn-roseboro-brawl

https://miscbaseball.wordpress.com/2009/07/21/the-fight-between-juan-marichal-and-john-roseboro/

http://www.sfgate.com/sports/knapp/article/40-years-later-The-Fight-resonates-in-a-positive-2646178.php#page-2

http://www.nytimes.com/2002/08/20/sports/john-roseboro-a-dodgers-star-dies-at-69.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/magnanimous-in-victory-gracious-in-defeat/

http://www-pao.ksc.nasa.gov/history/gemini/gemini.htm

 

 

 

“Only in America”

The old joke: “When has it been a bad day?”

“When Mike Wallace (in particular) and the 60 Minutes crew is waiting in the lobby.”

Sometimes having 60 Minutes coming for an extended visit can be great news for a company, and maybe for a nation that could use a kick in the collective pants.

pelley60Minutes

The Scott Pelley story this past Sunday focused on a 42-years young immigrant “engineer” from South Africa, Elon R. Musk, who is playing a huge role in reviving American heavy manufacturing in both automobiles (Tesla) and rockets (SpaceX).

Almost DailyBrett wants to hear, tell and relay more of these stories.

Driving repeatedly up the 880 (e.g.. The Nasty Nimitz) past industrial Fremont, one would cast a sad glance at the shuttered NUMMI plant. At various times, GM and Toyota cars and trucks would be made there until they weren’t any longer.

The negative narrative was that Silicon Valley with its unparalleled collection of gear heads would always be a center of innovation, but manufacturing was just too bloody expensive.

Oh, ya?

Tesla’s 1,000 employees at the recharged NUMMI plant can’t build the fully battery-powered (up to 250 miles on one charge with zero climate change emissions) $100,000 Model S cars fast enough to meet the demand. Overall Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) employs nearly 6,000 directly and indirectly results in the hiring of thousands of others in supplier roles, and quite well could be the first successful U.S. automobile start-up in 90 years. And the company is working to developing the technology to build $30,000 non-polluting all-electric cars with acceptable travel ranges.

Heck, Bill O’Reilly called Tesla a global “game changer” that will force all rival automakers to respond.

Earns Tesla Motors

But the story does not start-and-stop there; In fact it goes into the stratosphere and beyond.

Musk also pioneered privately held SpaceX with its 3,000 employees, which received a $1.5 billion NASA influx to deliver cargos via rockets to the agency’s orbiting space stations. SpaceX is developing the first rocket that can be landed right back on the launch pad, and may play the leading role in taking humans to Mars for the first time.

Don’t bet against Musk, Tesla and SpaceX.

We seemingly live in a culture in which no good deed goes unpunished, one in which we despise the 1 percent who have much more than the rest of us, and yet we don’t know them.

For example, Musk came to America … “Only in America” … because of its software prowess, particularly the Silicon Valley. After attaining degrees in physics and business from the University of Pennsylvania, he devised the software that provided on-board navigation for drivers, and made $22 million. He developed the online banking system, called PayPal, which he sold to eBay for $1.5 billion (Musk’s share, $180 million). Modestly, he said that was a “good outcome.”

And then he bet the ranch and his earned nest eggs on both Tesla and SpaceX, and was close to bankruptcy and a nervous breakdown. He had hundreds of electric cars that did not work and three failed rocket launches in succession…a fourth would have been game, set and match.

spacex1

With tears in his eyes, he told the story of how Number Four was the charm, and the NASA and further VC investments saved the day. His reaction was very human, very open-kimono. Maybe there are good people who happen to earn a lot of money?

The rest is history. Entrepreneurs by their very nature have to be prepared to fail. Caca happens more times than not. Musk stared failure and permanent debt right in the eyes…and the other guy just blinked.

As mentioned more than once in Almost DailyBrett, my former boss Wilf Corrigan came to America from Liverpool, England with his new Norwegian bride circa 1960. The initial destination was the wrong side of the tracks in blast-furnace hot, Phoenix, Arizona with barely two shekels to rub together.

In time, he rose to the top spot at Fairchild, lost the company in a hostile takeover bid, formed his own company, LSI Logic, which is now being driven into oblivion by his successor. Wilf succeeded, failed and succeeded again.

Failure is an option in Silicon Valley and America, but so is success…including new businesses, jobs and maybe heavy manufacturing (e.g., electric cars and rockets).

musk

Mounting the proverbial soap box, there are a record 47 million on food stamps and another record 8.9 million on disability, most legit…some not. We need to provide a safety net for those who are in real need…

We also need to not hate, but celebrate, the doers, the achievers, the entrepreneurs. The days of jealousy should be behind us, but you know they are not.

For the public relations industry, we should be unabashed and undaunted in telling the stories of those who dare to fail and ultimately succeed, providing us with great products and the best anti-poverty program on the planet: A good paying private sector job with full benefits.

Thank you Elon Musk and all the others who dare to follow in your footsteps. We can hardly wait to hear and tell the stories about you.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/tesla-and-spacex-elon-musks-industrial-empire/

http://www.foxnews.com/on-air/oreilly/2014/04/01/bill-oreilly-truth-about-obamacare-and-global-warming

http://www.teslamotors.com/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tesla_Factory

http://www.spacex.com/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/in-search-of-another-suite-h33-kirkland-house/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/01/02/farewell-lsi-logic/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/11/18/makers-and-takers/

 

 

 

 

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