100 Years of the Indy 500 Began With the Dream of a Visionary
May 29, 2011

40 cars lined up for the 1st Indy 500; The Winner Started in the 28th position-no winner has started farther back

On This Date In History: Not all success stories are college graduates or even college drop outs. On this date in 1909, entrepreneur Carl Graham Fisher was looking ahead to a big day. In just a 3 days, he was going to stage the first race at the Indianpolis Motor Speedway . Four days later he was scratching his head because the opening of his Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a three day, 300 mile race didn’t go very well. Drivers were blinded by the dust kicked up from the gravel roadway and 5 people were killed. Fisher abruptly stopped the race. But, he didn’t give up. He had the 2.5 mile oval set with brick and in 1911, the first Indy 500 was held.

Fisher didn’t give up on a lot of things. He was born half blind but didn’t know about it until he was 31. He started a small bicycle business and promoted it by riding a bike across a tightrope. He opened what is thought to be the first auto dealership in America and promoted that business in Indianapolis by floating across the city in a hot-air balloon. Part of the reason he opened the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was that he wanted to try to make Indianapolis the hub of the auto-industry instead of Detroit. He also went into business making auto headlights. He later sold that in 1912 to Union Carbide for $9 million. Perhaps buoyed by the success of making Indianapolis Motor Speedway the “Brickyard”, he conceived of the idea and helped develop the nations first coast to coast highway, the Lincoln Highway, named for his favorite hero. He went a step farther and pushed for the Dixie Highway from Indianapolis to Florida, which John Mellencamp made famous later.

Fisher's Elephant

In Florida, he became a real estate mogul and bought an overgrown island off of Miami. He had it cleared of mangroves, filled in the swamps and built a bridge to what is now known as Miami Beach. As part of a promotion, he once used an elephant with a baseball player on its head, which I have no idea how that promotes a real estate development. But, Fisher is considered a genius while that moniker has escaped me. He also began a “Miami of the North”, developing what would become Montauk on the eastern tip of Long Island. At one point he was worth $100 million in 1920’s dollars. But..easy come easy go.

Miami Beach Memorial Honoring Fisher

Miami Beach Memorial Honoring Fisher

Before the hype of Global Warming, a number of hurricanes devastated Florida and just hammered the real estate market in Florida. That took a toll on Fisher’s fortune. Then the stock market crash of 1929 wiped him out. He ended up in a small cottage on Miami Beach, but he didn’t stop. He developed the Caribbean Club in Key Largo. He died in 1939 with an estate estimated at just $40,000. But, he is credited with helping to inspire President Eisenhower to develop the interstate highway system. He was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame and was named one of Florida’s 50 most influential people of the 20th Century.

From rags to riches to rags again….yet he left a legacy of benefit for the entire nation. Ever wonder what you can do if you try?

Brits Selling “Imitation Liquor” to High School Kids in Maine? Keep Up with your Zipper!
October 28, 2009

DWI

No Drinking in Class!!

victorian-lemonade-test

Imitation Liquor?

No Booze for the Kids!  Seems that Fentimans has been selling lemonade in Great Britain for over 100 years.  It marketed their product as Fentiman’s Victorian Lemonade.  They say that its effervescent and” it’s not cloyantly sweet…you don’t even notice the sugar.”  Apparently, you also don’t notice the booze.  The company encourages one to “drink it straight”  or to “use it as a mixer with gin, vodka,  Pimm’s N0. 1 Cup or any other cocktail that uses bitter lemon.”    What they don’t say is to take it to school and apparently a school in Maine objected to a kid having a kid of Fentiman’s Victorian Lemonade with 0.5% alcohol.   Apparenlty, the kid in question had it in school and looked at the bottle’s label and noticed the alcohol content.  He didn’t want to get into trouble so he took it to the teacher. Since he had no intent to break school rules, he was not disciplined,which is a far cry from the case of the kid who got suspended for bringing a pocket knife to school.  End of story? No. That’s because according to the Bangor Daily News, “officials from the Aroostook Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition and the Maine Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse recently learned that a Houlton High School student brought a bottle of Fentimans Victorian Lemonade to school that was purchased at a local store.”  In other words, another group of do-gooders can’t just leave well enough alone.  Perhaps this will start another War of 1812.

Who Invented It?

Who Invented It?

On This Date in History:

Back in the day, there were no zippers. Pants were fastened in the front with buttons. For some reason, some jean manufacturers have gone retro with buttons. But, zippers are everywhere. Quite handy, they are. There have been some attempts to improvement with the space age velcro but the original zipper just keeps zipping along. It has been described as one of industrial America’s “most successful products.” It’s one of those little items that, if you think about it, would make you a fortune if you owned the patent. But, the genesis of the device did not exactly slide along…there were hitches.

Whitcomb Judson-Quit Too Soon

Whitcomb Judson-Quit Too Soon

In 1891, Whitcomb Judson applied for a patent for “Clasp Locker or Un-Locker for Shoes.” The patent office had never heard of such a thing, he got the go ahead. He teamed up with the only person who saw any promise in the apparatus, Col. Lewis Walker. Walker set up the Universal Fastener Company in 1894 as a manufacturing source. Trouble was, they couldn’t develop a machine to make the contraption until 1905. Walker scheduled a demonstration, ordered a keg of beer and I guess everyone got drunk because the machine didn’t work. Back to the proverbial drawing board they went and Judson came up with a simpler version of the fastener. The called it the C-Curity fastener. They advertised with the slogan, “A pull and it’s done! No more open skirts…ask the girl!” Well, they should have asked the girl first because the fasteners tended to pop open at most unintended times. The whole campaign and the product became a joke and Judson quit in humiliation.

Sundbach's (Sundback) 1917 Patent

Sundback's Patent

Walker continued on working through meager personal financial times and came up with the prototype for the modern zipper in 1913. However, saying Walker was “working” on it is a bit of a misnomer. See, he was a entrepreneur and lawyer, not a tinkerer. Judson was the one who did all of the work. Walker’s company, the Universal Fastener Company, had hired Swedish

Gideon Sundbach-Not Left Out

Gideon Sundback-Not Left Out

engineer Gideon Sundback (aka Gideon Sundbach) who is the one who perfected the zipper and it worked wonderfully. But, memories were long and people remembered the garment opening experience with the C-Curity fastener. On This date in 1914, the first true zipper, the Hookless No. 2 was sold. But the sales mainly were for actors costumes and novelty items. The public relied on the trusty button…that is until 1917. That is when a tailor made money belts for sailors with zippers. The moniker “zipper” was attached by BF Goodrich…the tire guy. They made galoshes and put the fasteners on them, though I can’t imagine how practical that was since galoshes generally get wet and I bet the original zippers were made of steel that rusted. Anyway, BF Goodrich promoted the product by exclaiming “Zip’er Up, Zip’er down!” Zippers became the trademark for the galoshes. Even though the overshoes went out of style, the zipper carried on….and carried Colonel Lewis Walker all the way to the bank. He owned the company and got the money while Gideon, who was given the patent, got credit….hopefully that credit was not backed by sub-prime mortgages.

Clint+Black

Black a benificiary of the sage Hambright Advice

Unlike other stories in which the guy who does the work gets the shaft, Gideon Sundback also invented a good machine to mass produce the zippers. Zippers were mainly used in Tobacco pouches and boots until the 1930’s when the zipper came into widespread use in clothes. Sundback ran his own company, the Lightning Fastener Company…so everyone did well with the zipper…except for Judson whose fate reminds me of what my old Junior High Football Coach, Granville Hambright, used to say. “A quitter never wins and a winner never quits.”  One guy who learned under the tutelage of Coach Hambright and did not quit but perservered and it led to great success was none other than Clint Black, who sat next to me in Mrs. Wagner’s art class.  Maybe coach was on to something.

friAM

Friday Morning-Triple Point Near

HPC QPF (rain total forecast Wed Eve. thru Sat Evening)

HPC QPF (Forecast Rain Total Wed Eve. thru Sat Eve)

Weather Bottom Line:   Look for a period of excessive rain to end the week. In other words, Halloween looks like it will suck, which is fine with Snow White because she can’t stand the day.  Oh and by the way…these news people keep on referring to it as a holiday. It’s not a holiday!  Silly day maybe..but holiday NO! Anway,  as I had mentioned previously, we have a situation of strong convergence in the lower Mississippi Valley.  It is in this region that the SPC has the slight risk for Severe Thunderstorms for Thursday morning into Friday morning.  That is not so much the issue for us.  We had generally over an inch of rain on Tuesday night, which was a little bit of a victory for me considering that I had called for the main rain on Tuesday night but got bit on the backside with the light rain that fell from midday into the late afternoon on Tuesday.  Anyway, The main storm system is lifting up to the north into the northern plains.  As it does so, it is becoming a mature system which means it is developing an occluded front.  Typically, that means slowing down.  And that is the problem.

GFSrainthru18ZSat

GFS Rain Accumulation Thru Midday Sat

All of that convergence to our south is bringing in all sorts of Gulf of Mexico moisture.  As we go through Thursday, that moisture will be surging up the Mississippi River Valley into the Ohio River Valley over the top of a warm front  Boom…there is the rain.  Now, the occluded front extending down from the slow moving main low to the north will be crawling and the triple point of the occluded front, the warm front and the cold front will be quite near.  I would not be surprised to see a secondary low begin to develop just to our southwest at this triple point.   All of this means is that its gonna rain.  We may get too much rain or we may get way too much rain. 

NAMrainthru18ZSat

NAM Rain Accumulation Thru Midday Sat

The GFS is more bullish with rain totals of about 2.5 inches through midday on Saturday.  The NAM is more tame at about 1.25″ through midday on Saturday.  But, in both cases, the main channel of even more excessive rain is just to our west.  The Hydrological Prediction Center has its QPF total (quantitative precipitation forecast) for Wednesday night through Saturday night has Louisville getting about 1.5 inches of rain.  BUT…you only have to go to the western part of Southern Indiana…about half way between Louisville and St. Louis…to get to a forecast amount of around 4 inches.  Given that forecasts are not always that accurate this far out and with that type of certainty regarding coverage areas (which is understandable given that the earth is 25000 miles around so 100 miles is not that big of an error) then it is reasonable to assume that we at least have a risk for excessive rain.  The National Weather Service has made such a preliminary suggestion.  Given that it is not out of the question that a low could form on that triple point nearby, I would say that it is at least something worth considering.  In any event….you may want to find an alternative for trick or treaters or at least give them some sort of plastic covering…and maybe something warm as it will probably be fairly cool to go along with the dampness.

Your College Famous For Billionaires or Athletes? Carl Fisher was simply a Great Man.
August 16, 2009

Harvard Rugby Team-Any Future Billionaires?

Harvard Rugby Team-Any Future Billionaires?

Top 10 in Billionaires and Many sports-A rarity

Top 10 in Billionaires and Many sports-A rarity

A New Way to Rate Colleges: If you visit a university and talk to their alumni, you will often hear them say “we are ranked number such-and-such” or “our widget school is ranked thus-and-so.” More often, they won’t be as specific and simply say that “our widget school is one of the highest ranked.” Almost every time, in my experience, when I have gone to the US News and World Report ranking, the claims are not matched. Several times I’ve been told some great thing and found that particular discipline at that school is ranked somewhere between 100 and 150. I suppose that if you have to tell me that your school is highly ranked in academics, it’s probably won’t live up to the billing.

Not in Top Ten in Football or Billionaires

Not in Top Ten in Football or Billionaires

There are different ways of ranking schools but at least part of the criteria is based on outcome. Many undergraduate programs will encourage their better students to go on to advanced degrees because the more of their students that can attain a Masters or PhD, the better that undergraduate school looks. Beyond academic achievement, another way to grade a school’s performance is the working world performance of its graduates. There is one famous school that one always hears is so great yet I am unaware of any high-profile business successes from that school, but they are famous for football.

Gates-Richest Harvard Dropout

Gates-Richest Harvard Dropout

Forbes magazine came out with an interesting way of ranking schools. How many billionaires are products of that academic institution? The Forbes list of billionaires hailing from particular universities is headed up by Harvard with 5% of the world’s billionaires. I’m not sure, but I don’t think that it includes rich guys who dropped out like Bill Gates. New York University made this list, but also sports 5 drop outs that have gone on to great riches. The University of Pennsylvania is on the list and boasts the famous Wharton School of Business and its most famous graduate, Donald Trump.

An interesting note is that the only state schools on the list are ones that are also known for football prowess, or really athletic achievement in general.   The state schools that  round out the top 10 are USC, UCLA and The University of Texas at Austin. These schools all were tied for 9th place with nine billionaires in their ranks. I’ve often wanted to ask a university president if his objective was to entertain the alumni or to produce students who gain a quality education. It’s kinda tough to do both.

On This Date In History: Not all success stories are college graduates or even college drop outs. On this date in 1909, entrepreneur Carl Graham Fisher was looking ahead to a big day. In just a 3 days, he was going to stage the first race at the Indianpolis Motor Speedway . Four days later he was scratching his head because the opening of his Indianapolis Motor Speedway with a three day, 300 mile race didn’t go very well. Drivers were blinded by the dust kicked up from the gravel roadway and 5 people were killed. Fisher abruptly stopped the race. But, he didn’t give up. He had the 2.5 mile oval set with brick and in 1911, the first Indy 500 was held.

Fisher didn’t give up on a lot of things. He was born half blind but didn’t know about it until he was 31. He started a small bicycle business and promoted it by riding a bike across a tightrope. He opened what is thought to be the first auto dealership in America and promoted that business in Indianapolis by floating across the city in a hot-air balloon. Part of the reason he opened the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was that he wanted to try to make Indianapolis the hub of the auto-industry instead of Detroit. He also went into business making auto headlights. He later sold that in 1912 to Union Carbide for $9 million. Perhaps buoyed by the success of making Indianapolis Motor Speedway the “Brickyard”, he conceived of the idea and helped develop the nations first coast to coast highway, the Lincoln Highway, named for his favorite hero. He went a step farther and pushed for the Dixie Highway from Indianapolis to Florida, which John Mellencamp made famous later.

Fisher's Elephant

In Florida, he became a real estate mogul and bought an overgrown island off of Miami. He had it cleared of mangroves, filled in the swamps and built a bridge to what is now known as Miami Beach. As part of a promotion, he once used an elephant with a baseball player on its head, which I have no idea how that promotes a real estate development. But, Fisher is considered a genius while that moniker has escaped me. He also began a “Miami of the North”, developing what would become Montauk on the eastern tip of Long Island. At one point he was worth $100 million in 1920’s dollars. But..easy come easy go.

Miami Beach Memorial Honoring Fisher

Miami Beach Memorial Honoring Fisher

Before the hype of Global Warming, a number of hurricanes devastated Florida and just hammered the real estate market in Florida. That took a toll on Fisher’s fortune. Then the stock market crash of 1929 wiped him out. He ended up in a small cottage on Miami Beach, but he didn’t stop. He developed the Caribbean Club in Key Largo. He died in 1939 with an estate estimated at just $40,000. But, he is credited with helping to inspire President Eisenhower to develop the interstate highway system. He was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame and was named one of Florida’s 50 most influential people of the 20th Century.

From rags to riches to rags again….yet he left a legacy of benefit for the entire nation. Ever wonder what you can do if you try?

Monday Evening

Monday Evening

Weather Bottom Line: Look for another day near 90…that’s even possible on Monday too. But, the rain chances will begin to increase by Monday afternoon and then stick around for much of the week. A lazy front will sag down our way and maybe not even get through the area, but will get close enough and then lurk around long enough to cause enough of a ruckus to help focus at least scattered storms for much of the week. I suspect that its initial approach on Tuesday will bring the greatest chances. Otherwise, it will be warm and humid for the week ahead