Monday, December 14, 2009

He's Baaaaaaaaacccckkk!

Ok! Ok! Stop with the calls and the letters and the otherwise frantic acting out because Other Side hasn't had a new post in two weeks! Are you really that addicted to fresh, bold, witty, and biting commentary on the issues of the day?

Of course you are, and it's all my fault, isn't it? I've spoiled you.

Well you can chill. Poppycock and the entire editorial staff are getting back to work after a planned but unannounced trip to the left coast, where this reporter and his family resided for more than 3 decades.

We had a delightful time visiting with good friends who raised kids together, attended church together, and provided the vital social network for our years from a young married couple to watching our kids graduate from college. We had a fine dinner party reuniting with career colleagues from the years at Hughes Aircraft Company. And the Mrs. relived the glory days of the "Christmas Cookie Exchange" she enjoyed with her female friends for 25 years.

All in all, it was a fine trip. This reporter even prepared a lavish Italian dinner for friends, and if you behave yourself, I might even post the recipes from that memorable event. Or perhaps I should conduct a cooking class at Chez Poppycock, and charge a princely price to watch the master at work and to sample the earthly delights.

We'll have to figure that out later. I'll have my people prepare an analysis of the various options.

For now, let me tell you that the most startling aspect of the trip was visiting the site of my 35 year career with Hughes, and finding that the facilities have been replaced with a very large shopping center and a wide array of apartment and condo housing.

My career began at a Hughes Aircraft facility in 1963, not very far from Disneyland in Anaheim. The facility was opened in 1957, on land Howard Hughes had wisely bought many years before. You remember him, don't you? He was the genius behind the Spruce Goose, and the movie "The Aviator" is a pretty good retrospective on his life.

When I hired in, there were about 5,000 working at the facility. At it's peak in the 80's, employment reached about 15,000. It slowly slid back to about 5,000 in the mid 90's when I was sent here to represent the company "on the waterfront," meaning shipbuilding programs at BIW, etc.

Now the place is just flat gone; bulldozed away, no memories, no monuments, no other trace of its existence. There's a super-sized Target right where our offices used to be. What a sense of age and history this gives you...the place where you made your career and supported your family simply "deleted" from the landscape.

The other notable aspect of the trip was that I visited briefly with the urologist who saved my life nearly 25 years ago. He was a mere "kid" then, and is at the age where he should be contemplating retirement. Not in this day and age. His story is a real eye-opener as our "public servants" decide to help us out in our health care, and I will treat this more fully in a subsequent post.

For now, let's just say that we should all be afraid, very afraid. All the trends are in the wrong direction if you are hoping to just maintain the status quo, or even hoping your circumstances will get better.

There's nothing to suggest that this is possible, let alone likely.

Aren't you glad I'm back?

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