I Remember Bill Secor

November 28, 2016

To set the stage: It was November of 1983. Thanksgiving was approaching. My parents were coming to visit from Illinois over Thanksgiving for the first time since Gwen and I were married. We (E-Systems) were installing a massive new computer system into our facility in Alice Springs, Australia code named Zircon. The installation was coming along very poorly to say the least. In fact the Customer was threatening to send the Installation Team home along with our set of shiny new computers.

The day before Thanksgiving, the same day my parents were scheduled to arrive, Mr. Secor called me into his office to tell me he wanted me to fly to Alice Springs that night. The Customer had given E-Systems an ultimate: Get Olson over her immediately or pack up your toys and go home!

I told Bill “NO” and explained why. He calmly replied something to the effect: “You don’t understand. Either you get on the plane tonight or both you and I will be searching for employment next week.”

So, Gwen cried, I boarded the airplane for Alice Springs and spent Thanksgiving on a Pan-Am jet over the Pacific. My parents, being children of the depression totally understood – to them employment was a privilege. I don’t think Gwen ever did.

The end of the story. I arrived in Alice. Everyone asked why I was there. In the end Zircon was saved and parts of it are still operational as far as I know.

Marv Olson

Desert island Discs

November 14, 2016

nature-fakaravacoconuttree_1024x768Lately, I’ve become addicted to Desert Island Discs, a BBC podcast, in which Kristi Young interviews a well-known or successful person. As part of the discussion the guest names 8 tunes special to them. Near the show’s end they are asked to pick just one if they had to and also one thing they could take to the desert island.

I decided to skip the interview and proceed directly to picking the eight tunes. Now, picking eight seems nearly impossible to me and will change over time but here goes my attempt:

  1. Like a Rolling Stone from Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisted album blew my mind. I grew up in a Lawerence Welk on Saturday night household. The first time I heard Dylan’s lyrics a whole new Universe popped out of the void. It was an angry tune and since I was a teenager I was angy most of the time. Probably about having to milk our three cows before breakfast. 2016-10-13 Late breaking news: Mr. Dylan wins the Nobel Prize for Literature. You can’t make this stuff up,
  2. A Day in the Life from the Beattle’s Sgt. Pepper album. The best track on the best album of all time showed me how good music could be. Also, reminds me of my Chicago student days at DeVry Institute on Belmont Avenue and my good friends the Condellos.
  3. Sounds of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel. Defining song of my youth and special for Gwen and I. First time I heard this song on WLS I was pulling into the Farm, and left the Pylmouth running until the song finished. Years later Gwen and I were taking the same College class. One of our assignments was to write a paper on the meaning of The Sounds of Silence. As I remember the incident I explained the meaning to here. Her grade was an A. Mine was a C+. And now I think I like Disturbed’s version of Sounds of Silence better
  4. Miss Atomic Bomb by The Killers. This has to be the newest tune on my list. Reminds me of my youth for some reason. Perhaps the allegory to the BOMB and man’s evil nature or am I reading too much into the lyrics?
  5. The Pretender by Jackson Browne – my theme song – I started out so young and strong only to surrender. Growing up in the 60s revolution was thick as fog in the air and we were bound to change the World for the better. Then, I woke up one day some 20 years later to realize I had surrendered to the MAN, got a regular job, got married, and had kids! Wow, What happened to the Revolution?
  6. Both Sides Now (Clouds) by Judy Collins – First time I heard this was in the back parking lot at Generous Dynamics (pun intended) in Fort Worth. I really loved this song. Her voice was absolutely haunting. Then I bought the album and discovered Amazing Grace which was even better. So my sixth pick is Amazing Grace. Actually I’d like to include the whole album but that’s against the rules as near as I can ascertain.
  7. Ninth Symphony by Ludwick Von Beethoven. A 66 minute symphony probably doesn’t qualify as a “tune”, but I’m including it anyway. I’m sure I heard the symphony the first time in my Music Appreciation class at Western Illinois University. Turned on my appreciation for classical music. Over the years I’ve listened to it often. The Ode to Joy – Alle Menschen werden Br├╝der still gives me goose bumps. (Do geese have bumps?)
  8. Over the Rainbow by Israel Kamakawiwo╩╗ole. First time I heard this tune was of course the first time I watched The Wizard of Oz. However my favorite version is by Israel which I first heard at my youngest daughter’s wedding reception on a beach in Mexico. Every time I hear it I’m reminded, “Hey I’m old, I made it! Got through most of the travails and tribulations of life.

Okay, there’s the eight. I’m sure if I drew this list up tomorrow there would be some changes.

Now, if I could only choose one for my desert island paradise what would it be? After lenghtly deliveration – The 9th Symphony – mostly because its 66 minutes long.

And the One Thing I choose to take to my desert island abode would be the book Godel, Escher, Bach better known as GEB by Douglas Hofstadter. With all the free time I’ll have on the island I’ll be able to re-read it until I understand it.

That’s about it folks. Hope you enjoy the music

On a final unrelated note I wrote the article on my iPad with 1writer and used the Workflow app to publish to WordPress. I haven’t solved including images Yet. I may add an image from my Mac. So if your reading this check back later for the image.