In Part 1, I explained that my daughter Nadiyah and I were going to power up my very first personal computer, a machine that I built from a kit way back in 1983. It hasn’t been turned on since the late eighties, so the object of our little lab session is to answer the question: will it still work after all these years, or will it explode? In this episode, Part 2, we finally plug the little monster in and find out. Wish us luck!
Please forgive the video framing, which chops off about half of my big head!
As a young person coming of age in the 1960s, I learned a smattering of black history in school. We studied, however briefly, black icons like Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, Harriet Tubman, and George Washington Carver. Though clearly important, these people often seemed frozen in amber, because my contemporaries and I were witnessing new history being made in the black struggle every year. The tumultuous 1960s inspired us to believe that we could make history, not merely study it. This year we find ourselves celebrating some heretofore unknown history makers: the women whose story is told in the movie Hidden Figures. We examine anew the themes of the 20th century black liberation struggle expressed by James Baldwin and retold in the movie I am Not your Negro. These stories inspire us, but they also challenge us to add our own chapters to the black history narrative.
In early 1983, thirty-four years ago, I got my first “serious” personal computer, a Heathkit H-89 all-in-one machine. I built it from scratch, which means that I soldered all the components on the circuit boards and assembled all of the subsystems into the completed unit. I bought the computer to help with the business I intended to start – Telecom Analysis Systems, Inc. (TAS). It was the tool I used to write and edit our business plan, and to develop and test the hardware and firmware of our product prototypes. In those days, the H-89 worked like a charm, and never gave me or my co-founders, Steve Moore and Charles Simmons, a bit of trouble.
Last Fall, in conjunction with the Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium in Flint, I had the distinct pleasure of hearing the music of Mama Sol, who performed at our Matrix Networking Reception. Now that was a real treat. I can’t say that I’m a fan of rap music in general, but there are a few artists whose work transcends the particular genre they happen to operate in. In the rap arena, my favorite example is Public Enemy. In R&B, the quintessential example would be Stevie Wonder. Mama Sol is one of those unique artists who capture and reflect their time and place in this world. She does so in a way that convinces you that she feels her poetry in her bones, in her SOUL. Her poetry can simultaneously convey sweetness, familiarity, anger, and inspiration. The fact that she is of, by, and for Flint, Michigan is really special, but her music is by no means limited or limiting. Last Fall, I called her Flint’s poet laureate, and I was not exaggerating.
If you want to be inspired, check out Mama Sol’s latest, Go O.F.F., or the earlier Inside Out. Let me know what you think.
Kishna and I had the pleasure of meeting Mama Sol in conjunction with last Fall’s Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium in Flint.
Jim Spaniola and me at French Laundry Fenton, more than 45 years after our time in the Ceramic Circuits Lab.
More than forty-five years ago, I began my college education at General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) in Flint, Michigan. This was back in Flint’s glory days, when world-class industrial production as well as ground-breaking research took place right in the midst of the city. My co-op sponsor was the AC Spark Plug Division of General Motors. My first assignment at AC was in the Engineering Research Center, which was located at the corner of Averill Avenue and Davison Road. I felt lucky and excited to have what seemed like a plum first assignment.
It is hard to find the words to describe all that has transpired in 2016. I have so much to say, but where shall I begin? In many ways, for me and my family, 2016 brought many new accomplishments and blessings, but as we exit the year, I feel an enormous sense of foreboding and concern. I’ll have more to say about that later, in a different post.
I admire my friends who have written eloquent essays and family updates at the end of each year. I can’t match what they have done, so I’ve decided to share some pictures and just a few words to capture some of the highlights of my life in 2016. If you were connected to any of these happenings in any way, I thank you for sharing the journey. Here we go…
This Sunday, July 12, I have the honor of being the Festival Speaker at Christ the King church in Flint, Michigan. Always great to go back home and see so many long-standing friends. Thanks to Father Phil Schmitter for the invitation. I’m still settling on my topic . The problem is that there are so dang many to choose from! If you’re in the Flint area this Sunday, come on over — we’ll have a good time. When? Immediately after 9:45 am service.
I enjoyed the brief stay in San Luis Obispo. I could envision living there, teaching at Cal Poly SLO, making the occasional trip to LA and SF, frequent visits to nearby Central Coast wineries. Now that would be the life!
My home for the night in SLO – not fancy, but not expensive, either.
It was hard to watch the images coming out of Baltimore last week. Seeing Freddy Gray’s life cut short, a man who was the same age as my own son, was tragic enough. The ensuing protests, the riot, the wall-to-wall media coverage, the talk about urban hopelessness, lack of opportunity, poor education – all of this was unsurprising, if not downright predictable. This is a story that is getting very old, about a situation for which solutions exist, solutions that are not even being attempted. That is precisely why the story is so hard to watch. Continue reading →