Sunday, June 20, 2010

my example of what a man should be…

He’s maybe five foot-six.  But, he’s the tallest man I know.  He’s my dad.

Dad is 89 years-old.  He can’t hear the way he used to.  He almost can’t see at all.  But, he’s aware, and he’s razor sharp.

He has an opinion, and he’ll let you know how he feels.  He doesn’t care if you disagree.  He’s not looking for your approval.  He’s a person who’s willing to stand alone if he feels it’s right. 

But, in my life, he’s stood by me.  He’s been a rock.  He’s been a mentor, with simple advice to complex issues.  In his mind, there’s a right way and a wrong way.

He never had a “big” job or a “big” life.  But, he’s respected by everyone.  I’ve never heard anyone say anything but good about my dad.  Never, not once, have I ever felt he’s cheated his family in any way.

That’s my example.  That’s my dad.  Simple, direct, right between the eyes.  What an example.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad.   

what a night…

Last night, I was invited to a dinner party at Gerda Buss’s home in Los Angeles.  Gerda is the sister of Inta, the photographer who does the wonderful work of turning our angelo:HOME  furniture photos into furniture art.  Also at the dinner were Angelo and Ed, Angelo’s PR guy, making the party five.

To define these people by their jobs is truly an injustice.  Each of them takes in life in big breaths, and exhales equally big.  We talked and kidded, and cajoled, and debated, and discussed, and solved all of the world’s problems, but none of our own, personal issues.

Each person has their own, unique viewpoint.  Each has a ready smile.  Each can laugh out loud at the foibles of others.  But, more importantly, each can laugh at him or herself.  Each has open arms and a warm hug.

Two years ago, I knew none of these people.   Today, I consider them friends, you might even say close friends, even though we only see each other once-in-a-while. 

The setting was magnificent, sitting on a deck, flowers and art all around, with a calming, cool breeze.  And to be able to enjoy a spectacular meal in the process is more than a person should ask.  

I’m grateful to have been invited into this group.  To be involved in passionate, bright, and sometimes not so bright, conversation is a privilege I don’t take for granted.

Thank you.

Friday, June 18, 2010

hall of fame man…


I met a personal hero today, Willie Davis.  Yes, that Willie Davis of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, that Willie Davis of the Green Bay Packers of my youth.

It’s a little weird when you’re confronted with greatness, right in front of you, within reach, not on TV, or somewhere in the distance.

I was a total Packer fan when I was a kid.  I memorized every player, their number, size, weight, position, number, everything.  I’m a little embarrassed to say I can still recite Willie Davis’ bio, from where he went to college (Grambling), the year he was drafted (1958), the team who took him (Cleveland), when he was traded to the Packers (1959), his position (defensive end), his number (87).

Willie Davis is a big man physically, 75 years old.  He looks 15 years younger.  He has meat hooks for hands, and carries an extra 100 pounds.  He struggles to get up from a seat and moves deliberately, exposing the pounding his body took in his 12 years in professional football.

He always credited Vince Lombardi for his success.  But, his success on the football field was only part of his life story.  He ran a successful beer distributorship in Los Angeles in the second phase of his professional life, and now owns five radio stations.

I had a chance to chat for a while.  He was very nice and amiable, asked about what I did and where I was going.  

I’m 10 years old again. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

lousy picture…great meat


As a kid, I used to ride my bike to Schroedl’s (SHRA-DELS) to buy popcicles.  My mother used to send me to buy lard so she could make pies and biscuits.

Growing up on the farm, we grew our vegetables, fruit, and sometimes our meat.  The kids were involved in all of it.  We picked and hoed and weeded and sold the things we grew.   We fed and cleaned and processed the animals we raised.  There was value in what we did.

We always had butter, never margin, or Oleo as we used to call it.  When I was young, the state of Wisconsin used to require that Oleo was blue, so people wouldn’t confuse it with butter.  I still won’t buy Oleo out of respect for the dairy farmer.

Schroedl’s would butcher a steer or pig so we could have hamburger, pork chops, steak, ribs and more.  We ate well, very well.  The smells coming from that kitchen, I can still remember even though its been more than 30 years since I lived there.  

Schroedl’s is still there, selling better stuff than you can get anywhere.  They are unparalleled sausage makers.  How they can make a summer sausage that doesn’t seem greasy is beyond belief. 

People often ask why I still live in a small town, the one I grew up in.  This is one reason.  There are many more.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

this old house….

house back yard looking at house

is for sale to a good owner. 

This was my home for several years.  It’s a gorgeous Victorian, complete with wrap-around porch in the front. 

I haven’t lived there since September of 2008.  I’ve been in the process of updating and renovating parts of the house that weren’t up to the standard of the home.

The painters are just finishing up and it will go on the block in the next few weeks. 

This isn’t just a home, but a piece of art.  With 27 stained glass windows, solid walnut, raised panel walls, antique fixtures, and so on, and so on, this home is in search of love everyday, not just when I can get to it. 

And, that’s why it’s for sale.  

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

are you serious?

Fabric Show 013

Recently, I’ve been seeing ads from Taco Bell touting a $2 meal deal.  The deal consists of an entree (taco, or burrito), Doritos and a medium drink.

This is in response, I’m sure, to the five, five dollar footlong at Subway, the Dollar Menu at McDonald’s, and all of those other deals to bring you in to buy their brand of fast food over others.

If you know me, I love to find the deals and then try them out.  Las Vegas  used to be like a playground for me, not for the gambling, but all of the impossible meal deals offered by the restaurants.

Once, I went to the Westward Ho, an old style casino, where they advertised a three quarter pound hotdog for $1.50 and a 32 ounce margarita for $.99. 

To watch people eating this wiener that is this long, well, it changed from a hot dog to a porn dog within seconds.  I’ll let you and your imagination figure that out.  The margarita was extraordinary and the hot dog; I couldn’t finish it.

Las Vegas is famous for its shrimp cocktail specials, steak deals, cheap breakfasts, all of that stuff.  And, I think I’ve tried them all.  And, for the most part, I’ve not been disappointed. 

So, when Taco Bell came out with this $2 thing, I had to go. 

Fabric Show 014   

I added up the individual items.  The drink was on the menu board at $1.69.  The burrito was $1.29.  I’m guessing the chips would have been $.79 if they would have been up there.  $3.77 for two bucks?  Are you serious?

Apparently, they are.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

a time for leadership…

The comes a time in every generation when a great crisis meets with great leadership.

Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan.  All of them stepped up to be bigger than the problem presented to them.  We remember them all for making decisions that rose above the problem that confronted them and defeated it.

The last time I heard greatness come out of the White House was when Ronald Reagan proclaimed, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”

For some reason, that message today would be diluted to “We’re going to bring the greatest minds together to come up with a solution to the edifice that separates Berlin.”

The company that changed it’s name from British Petroleum to BP, with designs of changing it to Beyond Petroleum, with the sun logo, with green as a prominent element, that spent hundreds of millions of dollars carefully crafting it’s message, transforming it from an oil company to an environmentally friendly energy company, now has eleven dead workers and an entire eco system awash in black goo.

The problem is not the disaster in the Gulf.  It’s a symptom.  The problem is our dependence on oil, some will say foreign oil.  We know how to make energy out of water, out of sunlight, out of the atom, out of pipes in the ground.

We know how to reduce demand for energy though technology.  We know how to make a car run on less fuel.  We know how to make a house run on less fuel.  We know how to reclaim energy that used to be wasted.

It’s easy to villainize BP and the oil industry for what’s going on in the Gulf; they only supply what we demand.

We all need to take responsibility for our role.  We need to look in the mirror.  That’s where leadership begins.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

always a coach….


If you love sports, you loved John Wooden.  If you know nothing about sports, you would have loved John Wooden.  John Wooden died yesterday at 99.

John Wooden was the basketball coach at UCLA for 28 years.  Everyone knows the success Wooden had at UCLA, seven national championships in a row in the 60’s and 70’s, 88 wins in a row, records that stand through today.

What made him different?  He knew how to love.  He loved his wife, his players, his life.  His wife, who died in 1985, received a love letter from her husband on the 21st of every month after her death, and until his death yesterday. 

He never talked about victory, but about living life honorably, about doing things the right way, about being consistent, about character.  Negotiation was not part of his life.

Preparation was paramount.  When his teams played, they played against what he called the idea performance, not the other team. 

Practice was a classroom where the smallest details met the knowing eye of “The Wizard of Westwood”.  He taught you how to put on your socks and shoes properly.  Everything had it’s place.  Compromise was not part of the performance.  Do it right.  Period. 

“You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.”

“Talent is God given. Be humble. Fame is man-given. Be grateful. Conceit is self-given. Be careful.”

“Adversity is the state in which man mostly easily becomes acquainted with himself, being especially free of admirers then.”

“Be more concerned with your character than your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

I was trying to think of something pithy to write, something clever, and then I remembered who I was writing about.  Rest in peace, Coach.  We will miss you.

Friday, June 4, 2010

great stuff….


Sometimes, in your work, you run into something so simple, but so great, you’ve got to share it with everybody.

Above is one of the products presented to me at my recent visit to Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).  This rocker was designed by Joe Willet, a sophomore student at the school.

Why is it so cool to me?

This rocker is so direct in it’s approach with simple, clean  lines, but comfortable with materials that feel homey and familiar.  It feels young and old at the same time, like it could have been an heirloom or purchased from a young, hip boutique. 

You could be full of tattoos and metal, or nursing a baby, and look totally in place in this chair.

Now, there are things he presented to me that are so unique, I’m not going to show them to you.   But, you will be able to see them soon enough.

This is why my job is so cool.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

a new member of the family….


Over the past six years, I’ve been working on, and perfecting something called Convert-a-Couch.   It’s been a project that has been exhilarating, exhausting, confusing…and rewarding.

The above photo shows our latest version.  This is a sofa bed, 86 inches long, that turns into a bed by just lifting the front and clicking.  It reclines and goes back into the seated position just by lifting the front.

What makes this different than what is out there are two things.  One is that this product is really comfortable, with pocketed coils in the seat and back, something that is only offered on premium products.   Secondly, it ships via UPS in one box; that’s right, UPS.


While it isn’t high fashion, it’s acceptable fashion, something this category has had trouble reaching forever.  And with a price under $500 delivered to your door, it looks pretty good to me.

You will begin to see versions of this product in better fabrics and styling going forward.  I might even have something that we could call fashionable. 

I’ll have a party that day.