Archive for October, 2010

Alan Lipow: He Was A Friend of Mine

October 29, 2010

Alan's on the Far Right; Standing L to R: J. Copeland, T Glaessgen, R. Johnson (me), R Ryder, R Hefele, R Schiraldi, D Policastro, A. Lipow; Kneeling: K. Roemer, A. Schlosser

Alan Lipow was a member of the Class of 1963, East Rockaway High School, Long Island, New York.  He was a good friend of mine. 

01 – He Was A Friend Of Mine

This song is a sad song, but a happy song too, because it celebrates friendship.

The Class of 1963 is a close-knit group of people.  Many of us are in an e-mail group that writes frequently.   And many have written of their friendship, of being a girlfriend, a fellow athlete (Alan played football and baseball and basketball).  Later he followed his father in the Pharmacy Business.

He will be missed, and many of the class are stunned that he is gone.  The last I saw Alan was at our 30th reunion.

His energy will stay with us for all time.

Alan, Salute.

11 The Lion Sleeps Tonight (Re-Recor

PS: Seeing the JV Team I remembered this infamous song, that got us in trouble a few times.

Maggie Johnson, My Granddaughter, Singing National Anthem

October 26, 2010

I am delighted to share with you our National Anthem performed by my Granddaughter, Maggie Johnson, at her high school homecoming weekend.

Go Maggie Go.


Chase Picked Up For the Back Nine

October 24, 2010

Jennifer called today and told me the show was picked up for the Back Nine.  “Which is just super”, says Dad.

Here is one Article about the pick up.

Jenn is working very hard at this.  The first year of a new show is intense.  And this is the first year for the first time for Jennifer.   Go get ’em girl.


One Barista’s thoughts on what coffee people want

October 21, 2010

According to Flavorwire there is one enterprising barista at Starbucks who knows what you want before you do.  See their list.

From Flavorwire

I blogged it at  and the original story comes from Flavorwire.
I wonder what they would give a blue-eyed blonde semi-swede, semi-irish guy?
I have a great new shot of Liam.  He is now 6.5 months old, and going to Doggie Day Care and Puppy Training.  He and Ruby are getting along famously, thanks to the Doggie Day Care, and Ruby is getting along with other dogs, three times her size.  Our trainer John and Liz both say that Ruby has no idea that she is smaller, she rules.
Liam still gets his nose into everything.

Liam Getting His Nose in Everything


Are Solar Panels Really the Answer?

October 17, 2010

Are These Panels

 the Answer?


Maybe not.  Several local homewoners were recently denied permits to connect their recently installed solar panels to the Electric Utilities Grid, where, theoretically, they would sell excess power generated by the home’s solar panels.  Denied permission to connect?

Yes, they were denied (see the article at the end of this post).    The reason given is that the utility did not need the power in the homeowners area and the excess power would lead to the power company’s lines overheating, thus creating a hazard.  One ‘issue’, according to the power company, is a ‘grid’ designed to send power in one direction.  Perhaps there are direction sign’s on copper wires.

Oops.  Think for a moment of an entire nation running on Solar Panels, all feeding an electric grid.  Who will install, maintain, and administer the grid, making sure that there is an even distribution of power during individual consumers (and businesses) peak usage?  And who will keep track of who owes who for power?

The logical conclusion is the Federal Government, or, a National Utility made to look like the Post Office.  In other words, taxpayers.

Granted that the example is extreme, for we will never have 100% Solar Panelists.  I create the example in order to more clearly understand (I think) the problem.

Utilities must spend precious capital funds for upgrading the system so it will accept power inputs from all the homeowners who install Electric Generating Solar Panels.  The utility must spend money in order to make less.  They make less because every homeowner who installs a system is a lost customer for the utility. 

So the utility will not willingly spend money to lose money.  There is only one entity that spends money in order to lose money.  Uncle Sam.

Who funds Uncle Sam?   And while SPO’s (Solar Panel Owner’s) grow in number, the non-SPO (those without the famously planet saving devices) population will pay more so that their neighbors will pay less.  I think.


From Press of Atlantic City, Saturday, October 16, 2010

I hope I’m wrong and that you will set me straight.

An Alternative View

Or, the SPO’s might be substituting their capital (50% subsidized by you and I) for the capital the utility would invest in new Solar Arrays, or Wind Turbines.  In this scenario you and I still pay for the SPO subsidy, and the utility stays in business charging the laggards (those of us who are slow to accept Solar Power) more, replacing the sales and profits given up to SPO’s.

I’m not saying you should throw stones at the solar panels.  I am saying you are better off getting a solar panel first and enjoying at lease for a while, a respite from the pain of utility bills, provided the money you save is your own, and not mine.

Wind vs. Solar

Anyway, one day a meteor will smash into the earth, or a super volcano will erupt from within, and then we Windy People will laugh at the SPO’s, of course, if we were lucky enough not to be under the meteor or over the volcano.

Go Wind.

“Dear Esther” – Like My Business, The Country Needs to Organize and Attack the Issues

October 15, 2010

Please Help The Country Get Better

Please Mr. President – “Do Your Thing”

Me and My Faithful Friend

I was very active in the Presidential Election of 2008.  It was crucial.  And I’m satisfied that much has been done or initiated, with the huge exception of  “The Economy (Stupid)”  I conclude that few in congress grasp the severity of the problem, and fewer still actually understand the forces at work.

For years I rationalized Government Debt on the basis that Government spent on infrastructure, fixed assets like roads, bridges and buildings.  But more and more of our Debt finances operating expenses.  Not good, as all Debt must be repaid, and the only source of repayment in a business is net (after taxes) income.  In Government, the source repayment is more taxes.  Some day we will have “pay the piper”.

This preamble introduces a reprint of a letter I wrote in 2008 to a person named Esther.  Each time I see Boehner, McConnell, Reid and Pelosi I think of  “Dear Esther”.  I hope you will print it, send it to your friends and think about it, before you vote.  I’m not voting this November, although I’m open to a change of heart.  Why? You ask.  “Because the people on both sides do the same thing”.   Do you think a vote for either party or any of the above so-called leaders will change anything in the near term. 

Rome lasted 1,000 years largely because the Romans mastered integration.  We are headed to bankruptcy, and the end of American Hegemony.  With the advent of so-called lesser developed nations, now developed, and China, and India, and …. you name it, America is becoming less meaningful.  Why?  We Elected Them.

Here is Dear Esther, written on October 22, 2008.

Dear Esther


Bob Johnson


Kaffe Magnum Opus, Inc.



“I believe it to be one of the finest political pieces I’ve every read.”  Steve Urbach, Teacher and Professional Musician


Esther wrote me the following: “You are very likely a Democrat that wanted to put our nation in the hands of people that truly do not love America.  The Democrats love to spend money on themselves and not us low middle class people.”



Here’s my response:

Dear Esther,

Actually I am a life long Republican.  I supported Ford, Reagan, the Senior Bush, and even the present president in his first election against Gore.  I was on the fence in his second election because I thought the hatchet job done on Kerry was abominable.  I actually can’t remember who I finally voted for – all I remember is confusion at that moment.  So I think I voted for Kerry, reluctantly.  No matter, I think the son of Bush would have been a bad vote.

 My problem today is the Republicans are now the democrats of my youth.  They have outspent anyone in history; they took the country from 5 Trillion in debts (which took 100 years) to 10 Trillion in debt in 7 short years.  This year they will have a deficit of 1/2 Trillion dollars, not counting the sweet deal for the banks.  I received zero in tax reductions from the Bush cuts.  I wonder if you did.  So while I am voting this time for democrats, I’m really voting for my philosophy – balanced budgets, reduced debt and a reputation internationally as a leader and good place to live.  And, of all things, it is the democrats that will have to rebuild the military our good friends Bush, Rumsfeld and McCain (and Clinton) reduced to a midget compared to the giant it was.  We can’t even send 5,000 more men to Afghanistan; we don’t have the resources in place.

 (I must admit I too now want universal health care and national standards for educators and students.  I also like Obama’s approach to business as outlined in his book “The Change We Can Believe In”.

 I’m a former banker of all things.  My last bank position was in 1989, where I was (please sit down), president of Nat West Home Mortgage, a very conservative mortgage company.  (Nat West is a British Bank that purchased our formerly American owned bank).  I left and used all of my money to start a coffee business.

 I rented a condominium for 12 years to avoid the expense of home ownership.  We lived on my wife’s salary from 1990 to 2002, the first year I was comfortable taking a salary from my growing, successful business.  I poured my money, sweat, tears and time into Kaffe Magnum Opus.  Not a cent did I take from the government, nor a dime did I get in tax breaks from Bush.  So I care less that Obama will stop the Bush tax cuts.  In fact, I look forward to this increase in government revenue from folks, like me now, who can afford it, so that we may have a chance at reducing the US government debt.

 My son (who also owns a business) and I talked just last night (10/19/2008) over Sunday dinner about how the last 8 years reversed the long-held policy of humane treatment for prisoners of war.  Now we torture people.  America tortured people?

 I spent a week in Iceland a few years back in an effort to create a business in Scandinavia, jointly with a couple of entrepreneurs who lived in Iceland.  I was appalled at their attitude toward America.

 We have family who fought to make our country a safe place to live.  Today, we are neither safe, nor prepared for another terrorist strike.  Where will you and I get smallpox vaccinations (the effectiveness of my childhood vaccination ran out 20 years ago) should some nut attack us with smallpox?  What will you and I do in the less populated areas in which we live if two big cities, say New York and Philadelphia are forced to evacuate on a few days notice?  How will we feed ourselves or get potable water.  And what will we do with 10,000,000 people?  Perhaps underpasses, big trees, garages and sheds will suffice for shelter, but unlike the South for Sherman (which too was horrible), there is not enough food or water in South Jersey.

 Some say “this would be God’s plan”.  I say God would expect – as he did with the three men to whom he gave talents – that we would take the talents and have them work for our families and neighbors.  This means to me that we are now responsible to create a prepared nation, a strong nation militarily, with secure borders, and at the same time create a nation that is united again, as we were on September 12, 2001.  We are responsible to elect people who will get the USA prepared to help the people of this country when the next attack or natural disaster takes place.

 You probably remember Peggy Noonan, who worked in the Reagan White House and was a strong voice for our Republican Party, and conservatism.  She wrote and published this month a book: “Patriotic Grace, What It Is and Why We Need It Now”.  I read it on Friday and Saturday as it is short and an easy read.  She is beside herself over what has come of our proud nation this past decade.  She also believes we will see in our life time another devastating attack in our country, and she knows we are not at all prepared to deal with it.

 The nub of this is that the Republican way of governing has changed dramatically.  And as the old song goes “it ain’t what it used to be”.

 It is hard for me to vote democratic.  I’ve read all of John McCains autobiographies (I’m done with them and would be happy to send them to anyone you thought appropriate).  He spent much of his life at the bar going after women.  When a pilot crashes a plane, normally they lose their wings and are moved out of the air command.  McCain crashed two planes, one in Texas and one in Virginia (on his way home from his girl friends home in Pennsylvania – in a Navy airplane – not a commercial flight as you or I would have to take), but he did not lose his wings.  Why?  I don’t know for sure, but I do know from his own words that his Grandfathers reputation as an Admiral helped his career, and his father, another four star Admiral, who was active while Senator McCain was in the Navy,  intervened several times to get Mr. McCain out of trouble.  It’s a funny thing, but McCain quit the Navy the day he buried his father.  My educated view is that he no longer had the support he needed to survive in the Navy.

 So he married a multi-millionaire (actually he married Cindy before leaving the Navy so I ask for literary license) and goes off to Arizona where he could get elected to the positions he learned about as the Navy’s chief lobbyist for the six years prior to his discharge from the Navy.

 On the other hand, Obama has several books, two of which I’ve read.  One, “Change We Can Believe In” is a list of what he will do in a first term.  I think it is the right plan.  The man is talented and a leader of the highest order.  Just look at how he has run his campaign for president.  He is organized, has a plan and has recruited the right people to run it.  Good for him.  He not only wants to lead this country out of the depths to which we fell, but he has the talent to get it done.

 I like to say “we are where we are, and everything we did before got us here”.  It is true.  The fact that Obama is where he is, despite enormous obstacles, speaks volumes about his qualifications for president.  He has done what no man or woman before him did.

 Just imagine Sarah Palin running the financial markets (the government now owns them) in this crisis.  She is simply not of this caliber and the folks who are thinking and seeing reality know this.  What kind of presidential candidate appoints a VP candidate like this?

 My fingers hurt so I’ll close soon.

 I am not a democrat.  And I wondered too what you base your observation that the democratic ticket does not truly love America (do you include Senator Biden?).  I respect your opinion but disagree strongly.  I am not stupid.  Nor are the people who love dearly, and fought fiercely for this country of ours.  We of all people see reality and know the difference between leadership and a fathers helping hand.

 The democrats are spending on us Esther, so in a sense, yes, themselves.  But it is the so-called middle class who benefit, as a group, best.  It is the republicans who give so much to the super wealthy.  The whole Goldman Sachs team of Wall Street experts have made themselves wealthy under the Republican administration, and now, led by George Bush, are giving themselves $750 Billion dollars from you and I.  And it is my grandchildren, and yours, who will pay for the 10 Trillion in debt.  This situation is horrible.

 I try now to be humorous, and I hope you will not take this the wrong way, but it seems to me that when Mrs. Palin appeared on Saturday Night Live, it was exactly where she is most talented to be.

 I hope for all of our sakes that Senator Obama is elected.  Perhaps then the rest of this planet will see that Americans, you and I, recognize the plight we have caused and will take responsibility for it.  We are a good people, a good nation, but let us remember that it is you and I who put George Bush in office.  We elected him.


856 825 8213


This letter was composed and mailed on October 22, 2008.

Please Mr. President, do your thing.





Waxing Philosophically

October 13, 2010

It was and is good fun.

Life is short.  Time is limited.

Life and time is like a puddle on a windy desert floor – whoosh!  Now I’m 65.

Time Is On Our Side – Mic Jagger.

I don’t think so.

Time and our lives are like the bubbles we blew as children, drifting on the wind.  Some bounce on another; some combine with another, some go whoosh.  Time.  It is all we have to spend.


Jennifer Johnson stays as unflappable as series’ star character

October 12, 2010

Copied from Duane Dudek: by a proud father.

Duane Dudek on TV/Radio

“‘Chase’ creator keeps cool

Jennifer Johnson stays as unflappable as series’ star character

By “island” I mean network television, by “who” I mean which series, and by “voted off” I mean cancelled.

“Lone Star” and “My Generation” are already gone. “Outlaw” is as good as.

“The Whole Truth,” “Running Wilde” and “Detroit 1-8-7” are running on fumes.

Even NBC’s plucky Thursday night sitcoms – including “The Office” and “30 Rock” – have taken hits. “Community” is in such a fight against “The Big Bang Theory” that Dan Harmon, “Community” creator, Milwaukee native and ComedySportz alum, fretted on Twitter he would kill himself if ratings did not improve. “Last night saw 3 tweets not digging the (episode) and sunk low. I KNEW it sucked! Then saw good review. Instantly fine. I KNEW it ruled,” he tweeted. Later he wrote: “The outpouring of mild-to-ironic concern for my life,” from the Twitter community, “has gotten me off the ledge.”

Three shows that could be next on that ledge all air on NBC tonight, their ratings dropping one after the other like dominoes: the science fiction series “The Event,” the spy comedy “Chuck” and the action show “Chase.” But if the publicly aggrieved Harmon is one extreme, “Chase” creator Jennifer Johnson is his unflappable opposite, not unlike the action heroine of her series, a federal marshal named Annie Frost, played by Kelli Giddish.

“I pay attention to the ratings,” Johnson said in a phone interview. “But they are not my main focus.

“My attitude is let’s make something we all can be proud of. And make sure its got lots of action and lots of scenes of Kelli running.”

Johnson’s confidence might stem from her track record on shows like “Lost,” on which she was a first-season writer and producer, and “Cold Case,” on which she was a producer. Or it might stem from the clout of the show’s ubiquitous executive producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who has seven shows on the air this year.

“Everyone knows he knows how to craft a procedural,” Johnson said.

You would think the producer of “C.S.I.” and “Pirates of the Caribbean” would learn how to delegate but Bruckheimer “is very, very hands on.”

“He cares passionately about all his shows,” is involved in cast and crew decisions, watches dailies “and reads all the scripts,” Johnson said.

Johnson’s four years on Bruckheimer’s “Cold Case” were formative. She called it “my writer’s boot camp.”

“We were so diligent in our research and telling tight, well-crafted stories, that I don’t know how to do it any other way anymore.”

And writing for and producing the first season of “Lost” taught her “about creative surprises, twisting plots and keeping an audience on its toes.”

She was part of a “think tank” hired during the making of the “Lost” pilot “to help figure out what the show would be. How do you sustain a show where people are on an island? So we came up with flashback concepts and backstories for the characters.”

The flash forwards and parallel universes that came later “are very much Damon (Lindelof’s) way of storytelling,” she said about the “Lost” creator.

But, like other viewers, she lost track of “Lost” over the years. She admits she hasn’t even seen the final episode yet, as she was too busy creating “Chase.”

Bruckheimer approached her last summer with the idea for a show about fugitives.

And her creative process was influenced by an act of violence against a family member, which “fueled my desire to catch the bad guys.”

Right away she zeroed in on the marshals, who she said were “the first cops of the United States. There were 13 of them,” one for each colony, when they were founded, she said. And since she “didn’t want to do a suffering dark L.A. urban cop show,” setting it in “Houston was always part of the pitch. I wanted to do more of a big blue skies and the return of the American hero and the American cowboy.”

Anyone who saw the promo for “Chase” over the summer, featuring Giddish in a footrace with a felon, got an idea of what the show was about.

But the title can mean several things.

“It’s a psychological chase, and it’s a physical chase,” said Johnson.

She called it a “game of chess” and “a battle of wills” between Annie Frost and the fugitive of the week.

“Chase” is an example of how a show is often a reflection of its creator’s mind-set. As a kid Johnson “grew up watching action movies. My younger brother and I spent a lot of time chasing each other in the back yard. As an adult woman you don’t get as much of that as men do. And I miss that.”

“So,” Johnson said, “I live vicariously through Annie Frost.””

Written by Duane Dudek:

Alligator Man Revisited

October 7, 2010

This is a video I did some time ago.  Winter of 2007/08.

The alligator pictures were all shot in Florida.  It is hard to believe that these creatures survive.  They are big, ugly and pretty mean.

It’s funny that Florida has more watering holes than any other location in the US, but you take your life in your hands if you swim in them.  Oh well, life is short.

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