A Genuine Person


Back in the early ’70’s, I was working in the music industry in Nashville. One of places I worked was small studio that a musician had set up in his garage. It was equipped with hand-me-down gear retired from other studios. The console was a pastiche of vacuum tube and early transistor modules in a rather tall wood enclosure. I sounded great, but I could just barely see over it when sitting down.

As I was setting up for a demo session one evening (A demo is a simple recording of a song used to pitch it to singers for them to record.), the songwriter walked into the control room. She wasn’t very tall, and seated at the console, all I could see of her was that she was a cute brunette with a short haircut. It wasn’t until she came around the console and stood next to me that I realized she was Dolly Parton.

I very much enjoyed that session. In an industry where too many stars and wannabe stars are legends in their own minds, Dolly Parton was a nice person, a pleasure to work with. And sensible.

I was reminded of her good sense when I read a post by Suzanne Venker titled Of Course Dolly’s Not a Feminist. She Loves Men. (The periods are in the title.). The post is based on an NPR podcast called Dolly Parton’s America, and the apparent inability of the podcast’s host to understand why Dolly Parton isn’t a feminist.

In Dolly Parton’s America, Parton proves in spades that there’s a much more positive and compassionate attitude to have toward men, women and relationships. But if you want to adopt it, you can’t simultaneously pay homage to a group that assumes the worst of half the population. And you can’t take life so seriously.

But you can work hard and use your talent. And be a pleasure to work with.

I’m So Old …


… I remember when people (including my wife and me) moved to California because it was a place full of opportunities for growth. I also remember watching those opportunities slip away as the state became more tightly regulated. Eventually, Mrs. Hoge and I slipped away as well.

Of course, there’s nothing particularly special about California’s politicians and bureaucrats other than the size of the bureaucracy. They function with a typical level of incompetence. It’s no surprise to me that a state with significant energy resources is facing power blackouts because it has mismanaged its forests and energy production and distribution systems.

If you live in a well-managed state and you’d like a preview of a tightly regulated economy looks like, look at California. If you’re a one-percenter or the right kind of bureaucratic professional, you may like it. Otherwise, …

Afterthought— I used the term one-percenter in the paragraph above. That can refer to either an outlaw motorcycle gang member or a member of the wealthy elite. Either meaning works in that sentence.

Standards of Living


Bookworm has a post up about a couple of topics. The first part deals with the similarities between 21st-century China and the 16th-century Aztec Empire. It’s well worth reading, but second part about the difference between blue state and red state economies hit home with me.

I was born and raised in Tennessee. During the early part of my career, I lived and worked all over the world, but I returned home to settle down. Then, a career opportunity took me to California. I spent most of a decade there until another opportunity took me to Maryland. I’ve been in Maryland for almost 30 years. I’m in my 70s, and as I plan for retirement over the next few years, going back home to Tennessee seems to make more sense than staying here.

Bookworm writes—

If I’m on a fixed income (which you should assume I am, so donations to the blog are always welcome), I’m a much wealthier person in Tennessee than I am in California. Here in Tennessee, my apartment costs 1/5 of what it would in California, my gasoline costs 1/2 of what it would in California, and my utility bills are 1/3 what they are in California. Produce is more expensive here, but I can only eat so many apples. In addition, the roads throughout Tennessee are better maintained than those in California, the people are delightful, and Nature’s fecundity is glorious. I’m no longer living in an elite Blue community, but I feel I’m getting a lot of bang for my buck.

Just so.

I have a few more interesting things to do before I retire, but the call to go home keeps getting stronger.

The Last Three Years


In February, 2016, I went back to work from my second retirement. Since then, I’ve spent most of my time at Goddard Space Flight Center working on the power system for the TIRS-2 instrument.

Video Credit: NASA

Now that TIRS-2 has shipped for integration on to the Landsat-9 satellite, I’m off on new projects, the main one being a robotic mission capable doing on-orbit refueling and repairs.

Before my first retirement, I worked on power and thermal control systems for a couple of x-ray astronomy missions, GPS receivers and radio beacons for use in orbit, and instruments for testing the effects of radiation on electronic equipment, Between my two retirements, I worked with the GOES-R weather satellite program. There’s always something interesting to do at Goddard