Archives for the month of: June, 2013

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A few weeks ago, I had to travel to Memphis Tennesse to visit and engine factory and have a work meeting. My oldest son is in college, studing to become an Engineer, and since he is on school vacations at the moment, I thought it would be a great idea to take him along, I knew the visit to the factory would be interesting for him. As a bonus, Memphis is considered the Capital of Rock and Roll. As I’ve stated many times in my blog (see my About Me page), I am a musician (at least I would like to be one), and so is my son, he plays the guitar, and does it very well. It was the perfect combination of a trip.

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After we visited the factory and had all our meetings, we took a day off to walk around Memphis and learn how Rock and Roll was born. We were looking for the Rock and Roll Museum when we accidentally found a music store, although through the street window we could only see guitars, and only gibson guitarrs. I looked around the building and it seemed a little big to hold only that store, it was like a big wearhouse that occupied the whole block, and I said to my son “You are not going to believe this, but I think we are standing outside the Gibson Guitar Factory”. You don’t know this, but this was more important than it seems.

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My son has more than one guitar, he has been making quite a collection that even I enjoy from time to time. He has spent most of his savings (we musicians call this “investment”) to build it. I gave him his first guitar when he was around 8 years old, it is a red Fender Squire, then he bought a Gibson SG like the one Angus Young plays, only in black. He has a Fender bass, an acustic Ibañez that has a pretty good sound for an Ibañez, a Ukulele, and the jewel of the crown is his brand new Fender Telecaster 1972, that plays like heaven. But even after having this vast and varied collection, his dream has always been to own and play a Gibosn Les Paul, just like one of his rock idols, Slash. The problem is, the Gibson Les Paul he wants may be worth more than his whole collection. I’ve been telling him we should sell his whole collection, raise some money, and I’ll pitch in half of whatever he is short to buy his Les Paul. He is still thinking about it.

So, we come into the store and his face lights up (mine too). They had more than 200 guitars, and around 30 of them were Les Pauls, of all models, colors and prices. I asked if they gave tours around the factory and they said they did, for $10 each. They said the next tour would be in one hour, and we could play the guitarrs while we waited. He played all the Les Pauls.

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Finally, it was time for the tour. I was expecting a techologically advanced factory, with clean air, robots and precission machinery. Instead, we were led into a carpentry shop. There were pieces of wood and sawdust everywhere. They keep the humidity level high by spraying water from the ceiling so the wood doesn’t get too dry, it was literally raining inside. There was not a robot in sight, as a matter of fact there were only a few machines, only a few presses, a few drills, and not much else. Everything there is done by hand, by artists and carpenters. They bend the wood, glue it together, paint the wood, assemble the electronics, all by hand. We learned no two guitarrs are alike, every single one is different. We walked out of there more surprised than if we had seen a highly techonological factory.

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After the tour we continued with our trip. We visited the Rock and Roll Museum, we went to Sun Studios (where Elvis was discovered and recorded his first album), and we had dinner at BB King’s restaurant bar. We had a lot of fun, but the highlight of our day was the Gibson Factory tour.

After all this, I was kind of wondering why Gibson gave its best selling model Les Paul’s name. I dind’t know much about Les Paul himself, other than I have his music in my iTunes library. So I went on an online frenzy looking for more information about Les Paul, and what I learned surprised me. Les Paul was not only a great guitar player and musician, he was an inventor, a producer and an entrepreneur. Today’s music wouldn’t be what it is without Les Paul’s inventions. But I think Wikipedia explains it better than I can, so continue reading for more information on Les Paul.

How High the Moon is not an original from Les Paul. Many have played and sang this song, even before he did, but this version with Les Paul and his wife Mary Ford is undoubtedly my favorite. So finally, here it is…

How High the Moon, with Les Paul and Mary Ford.

03 How High the Moon

In the disco era, Gloria Gaynor recorded this version of How High the Moon, and if you have ever heard this song, most probably this is the version you know:

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Here are the lyrics for How High the Moon

Somewhere there’s music
How faint the tune
Somewhere there’s heaven
How high the moon

There is no moon above
When love is far away too
Till it comes true
That you love me as I love you

Somewhere there’s music
How near, how far

Here, some information of the song How High the Moon, from Wikipedia

How High the Moon” is a jazz standard with lyrics by Nancy Hamilton and music by Morgan Lewis. It was first featured in the 1940 Broadway revue Two for the Show, where it was sung by Alfred Drake and Frances Comstock.[1]

In “Two for the Show”, this was a rare serious moment in an otherwise humorous revue. The song was sung, in a slow fox trot tempo, by a group of evening-dressed people walking along a London street. At the end, they all looked at the sky, and cowered, obviously terrified: quick curtain. It was 1940, and the time of the London blitz: a clear night meant “bomber’s moon”.

The earliest recorded hit version was by Benny Goodman & His Orchestra. It was recorded February 7, 1940 and released by Columbia Records as catalog number 35391, with the flip side “Fable of the Rose”.[2] The Les Paul Trio recorded a version released as V-Disc 540B with a spoken introduction which was issued in November, 1945 by the U.S. War Department. In 1948, bandleader Stan Kenton enjoyed some success with his version of the tune. The recording, with a vocal by June Christy, was released by Capitol Records as catalog number 911 (with the flip side “Willow, Weep for Me”)[3] and 15117(with the flip side “Interlude”).[4] It reached the Billboard magazine Best Seller chart on July 9, 1948, its only week on the chart, at #27.[5]

The best-known recording of the song is by Les Paul and Mary Ford, made on January 4, 1951. The record was released by Capitol Records as catalog number 1451, with the flip side “Walkin’ and Whistlin’ Blues”,[6] and spent 25 weeks (beginning on March 23, 1951) on the Billboard chart,[5] 9 weeks at #1. The record was subsequently re-released by Capitol as catalog number 1675, with “Josephine” on the B-side.[7]

The song was sung in various recordings by Ella Fitzgerald, becoming (with the Gershwin’s “Oh, Lady Be Good!”) Ella’s signature tune. She first performed the song at Carnegie Hall on September 29, 1947.[1] Her first recording, backed by the Daydreamers, was recorded December 20, 1947 and released by Decca Records as catalog number 24387, with the flip side “You Turned the Tables on Me”.[8] Her most celebrated recording of “How High the Moon” is on her 1960 album Ella in Berlin, and her version was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2002, which is a special Grammy award established in 1973 to honor recordings that are at least twenty-five years old, and that have “qualitative or historical significance.”[9]

Here, some more information about Les Paul, from Wikipedia

Lester William Polsfuss (June 9, 1915 – August 13, 2009)[3][4][5]—known as Les Paul—was an American jazz, country and blues guitarist, songwriter, luthier and inventor. He was one of the pioneers of the solid-body electric guitar, which made the sound of rock and roll possible.[6] He is credited with many recording innovations. Although he was not the first to use the technique, his early experiments with overdubbing (also known as sound on sound),[7] delay effects such as tape delay, phasing effects and multitrack recording were among the first to attract widespread attention.[8]

His innovative talents extended into his playing style, including licks, trills, chording sequences, fretting techniques and timing, which set him apart from his contemporaries and inspired many guitarists of the present day.[9][10][11][12] He recorded with his wife Mary Ford in the 1950s, and they sold millions of records.

Among his many honors, Paul is one of a handful of artists with a permanent, stand-alone exhibit in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[13] He is prominently named by the music museum on its website as an “architect” and a “key inductee” along with Sam Phillips and Alan Freed.[14]

Early life

Les Paul was born Lester William Polsfuss outside Milwaukee, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, to George and Evelyn (1888–1989) (née Stutz) Polsfuss. His family was of German ancestry.[15] Paul’s mother was related to the founders of Milwaukee’s Valentin Blatz Brewing Company and the makers of the Stutz automobile.[16] His parents divorced when he was a child.[17] The Prussian family name was first simplified by his mother to Polfuss before he took his stage name of Les Paul. He also used the nicknames Red Hot Red[18] and Rhubarb Red.[19]

While living in Wisconsin, he first became interested in music at age eight when he began playing the harmonica. After an attempt at learning the banjo, he began to play the guitar. It was during this time that he invented a neck-worn harmonica holder, which allowed him to play the harmonica hands-free while accompanying himself on the guitar. Paul’s device is still manufactured using his basic design.[20] By age thirteen, Paul was performing semi-professionally as a country-music singer, guitarist and harmonica player. While playing at the Waukesha area drive-ins and roadhouses, Paul began his first experiment with sound. Wanting to make himself heard by more people at the local venues, he wired a phonograph needle to a radio speaker, using that to amplify his acoustic guitar.[21] At age seventeen, Paul played with Rube Tronson’s Texas Cowboys, and soon after he dropped out of high school to join Wolverton’s Radio Band in St. Louis, Missouri, on KMOX.

Early career

Paul migrated to Chicago in 1934, where he continued to perform on radio, and met pianist Art Tatum, whose playing influenced him to a career devoted to guitar rather than original plans of taking on the piano.[22] His first two records were released in 1936. One was credited to “Rhubarb Red”, Paul’s hillbilly alter ego, and the other was as an accompanist for blues-artist Georgia White. It was during this time that he began playing jazz and adopted his stage name.[23]

Paul’s jazz-guitar style was strongly influenced by the music of Django Reinhardt, whom he greatly admired. Following World War II, Paul sought out and befriended Reinhardt. After Reinhardt’s death in 1953, Paul furnished his headstone.[citation needed] One of Paul’s prize possessions was a Selmer Maccaferri acoustic guitar given to him by Reinhardt’s widow.[18]

Paul formed a trio in 1937 with singer/rhythm guitarist Jim Atkins[24] (older half-brother of guitarist Chet Atkins) and bassist/percussionist Ernie “Darius” Newton. They left Chicago for New York in 1939, landing a featured spot with Fred Waring’s Pennsylvanians radio show. Chet Atkins later wrote that his brother, home on a family visit, presented the younger Atkins with an expensive Gibson archtop guitar that had been given to Jim Atkins by Les Paul. Chet recalled that it was the first professional-quality instrument he ever owned.[25]

Paul was dissatisfied with acoustic-electric guitars and began experimenting at his apartment in Queens, NY with a few designs of his own. Famously, he created several versions of “The Log”, which was nothing more than a length of common 4×4 lumber with a bridge, guitar neck and pickup attached. For the sake of appearance, he attached the body of an Epiphone hollow-body guitar, sawn lengthwise with The Log in the middle. This solved his two main problems: feedback, as the acoustic body no longer resonated with the amplified sound, and sustain, as the energy of the strings was not dissipated in generating sound through the guitar body. These instruments were constantly being improved and modified over the years, and Paul continued to use them in his recordings long after the development of his eponymous Gibson model. In 1945, Richard D. Bourgerie made an electric guitar pickup and amplifier for professional guitar player George Barnes. Bourgerie worked through World War II at Howard Radio Company making electronic equipment for the American military. Barnes showed the result to Les Paul, who then arranged for Bourgerie to have one made for him.

While experimenting in his apartment in 1940, Paul nearly succumbed to electrocution. During two years of recuperation, he relocated to Hollywood, supporting himself by producing radio music and forming a new trio. He was drafted into the US Army shortly after the beginning of World War II, where he served in the Armed Forces Network, backing such artists as Bing Crosby, the Andrews Sisters, and performing in his own right.[26]

As a last-minute replacement for Oscar Moore, Paul played with Nat King Cole and other artists in the inaugural Jazz at the Philharmonic concert in Los Angeles, California, on July 2, 1944. The recording, still available as Jazz at the Philharmonic- the first concert- shows Paul at the top of his game, both in his solid four to the bar comping in the style of Freddie Green and for the originality of his solo lines. Paul’s solo on ‘Blues’ is an astonishing tour de force and represents a memorable contest between himself and Nat ‘King’ Cole. Much later in his career, Paul declared that he had been the victor and that this had been conceded by Cole.[citation needed] His solo on Body and Soul is a fine demonstration both of his admiration for and emulation of the playing of Django Reinhardt, as well as his development of some very original lines.

Also that year, Paul’s trio appeared on Bing Crosby’s radio show. Crosby went on to sponsor Paul’s recording experiments. The two also recorded together several times, including a 1945 number-one hit, “It’s Been a Long, Long Time.” In addition to backing Crosby, The Andrews Sisters and other artists, Paul’s trio also recorded a few albums of their own on the Decca label in the late 1940s. Paul was particularly enamored by the famous Andrews Sisters, who hired The Les Paul Trio as their opening act while they toured in 1946. Lou Levy, the sisters’ manager and a music publishing giant of the big band era and beyond, once said, “Watching his fingers work was like watching a locomotive go.”[27] The trio’s longtime conductor, Vic Schoen, said of Les, “You could always count on him to come up with something no one else had thought of,”[27] while Maxene Andrews once remembered, “It was wonderful having him perform with us. He’d tune into the passages we were singing and lightly play the melody, sometimes in harmony. We’d sing these fancy licks and he’d keep up with us note for note in exactly the same rhythm…almost contributing a fourth voice. But he never once took the attention away from what we were doing. He did everything he could to make us sound better.”[27] Two Decca recordings from 1946 pairing Paul with The Andrews Sisters (“Rumors Are Flying” and “It’s a Pity to Say Goodnight”) exist today to well affirm such comments. Paul’s many hits with wife Mary Ford recording her vocals in triplicate in the 1950s produced a sound eerily similar to the harmonious blend of The Andrews Sisters.[27] As Les Paul biographer Mary Alice Shaughnessy noted of Paul’s association with The Andrews Sisters, “Les welcomed the opportunity to study them in full flight.”[27]
In January 1948, Paul shattered his right arm and elbow in a near-fatal automobile accident on an icy Route 66 just west of Davenport, Oklahoma. Mary Ford was driving the Buick convertible, which rolled several times down a creek bed; they were on their way back from Wisconsin to Los Angeles after performing at the opening of a restaurant owned by Paul’s father. Doctors at Oklahoma City’s Wesley Presbyterian Hospital told him that they could not rebuild his elbow so that he would regain movement; his arm would remain permanently in whatever position they placed it in. Their other option was amputation. Paul instructed surgeons, brought in from Los Angeles, to set his arm at an angle—just under 90 degrees—that would allow him to cradle and pick the guitar. It took him nearly a year and a half to recover.[28]

Guitar builder

Paul’s innovative guitar, “The Log”, built after-hours in the Epiphone guitar factory in 1940, a 4″ × 4″ chunk of pine with strings and a pickup, was one of the first solid-body electric guitars.[29][30] Paul Tutmarc of Audiovox Manufacturing Co. built a solid body electric bass in 1935 and Adolph Rickenbacker had marketed a solid-body guitar in the 1930s and Paul A. Bigsby had built one for Merle Travis in 1948 and Leo Fender also independently created his own (the Fender “Esquire,” a single pickup model) in 1948. Although Paul approached the Gibson Guitar Corporation with his idea of a solid body electric guitar, they showed no interest until Fender began marketing its Esquire which later had a second pick-up added and became known as the Broadcaster (Renamed Telecaster in 1952).

The arrangement persisted until 1961, when declining sales prompted Gibson to change the design without Paul’s knowledge, creating a much thinner, lighter and more aggressive-looking instrument with two cutaway “horns” instead of one. Paul said he first saw the “new” Gibson Les Paul in a music-store window, and disliked it. Although his contract required him to pose with the guitar, he said it was not “his” instrument and asked Gibson to remove his name from the headstock. Others claimed that Paul ended his endorsement contract with Gibson during his divorce to avoid having his wife get his endorsement money.[31] At Paul’s request, Gibson renamed the guitar “Gibson SG”, which stands for “Solid Guitar”, and it also became one of the company’s best sellers.

The original Gibson Les Paul-guitar design regained popularity when Eric Clapton began playing the instrument a few years later, although he also played an SG and an ES-335. Paul resumed his relationship with Gibson and endorsed the original Gibson Les Paul guitar from that point onwards[citation needed]. His personal Gibson Les Pauls were much modified by him—Paul always used his own self-wound pickups and customized methods of switching between pickups on his guitars[citation needed]. To this day, various models of Gibson Les Paul guitars are used all over the world by both novice and professional guitarists. A less-expensive version of the Gibson Les Paul guitar is also manufactured for Gibson’s lower-priced Epiphone brand.[32]

On January 30, 1962, the US Patent and Trademark Office issued Paul a patent, Patent No. 3,018,680, for an “Electrical Music Instrument.”[33]

Multitrack-recording innovations

Paul had never been happy with the way his records sounded. During a post-recording session talk with Bing Crosby, the crooner suggested Paul try building his own recording studio so he might be able to get the sound he wanted. At first Paul discounted the idea only to give it a few more minutes thought before deciding Crosby was right. Paul started his own studio in the garage of his home on Hollywood’s North Curson Street. The studio drew many other famous vocalists and musicians who wanted the benefit of Paul’s expertise. The home and studio are still standing, but both had been moved to Pasadena at some point after Paul no longer owned the home.[34]

In 1948, Les Paul was given one of the first Ampex Model 200A reel-to-reel audio tape recording decks by Crosby and went on to use Ampex’s eight track “Sel-Sync” machines for Multitrack recording. Capitol Records released a recording that had begun as an experiment in Paul’s garage, entitled “Lover (When You’re Near Me)”, which featured Paul playing eight different parts on electric guitar, some of them recorded at half-speed, hence “double-fast” when played back at normal speed for the master. (“Brazil”, similarly recorded, was the B-side.) This was the first time that Les Paul used multitracking in a recording (Paul had been shopping his multitracking technique, unsuccessfully, since the ’30s. Much to his dismay, Sidney Bechet used it in 1941 to play half a dozen instruments on “Sheik of Araby”). These recordings were made not with magnetic tape, but with acetate discs. Paul would record a track onto a disk, then record himself playing another part with the first. He built the multitrack recording with overlaid tracks, rather than parallel ones as he did later. By the time he had a result he was satisfied with, he had discarded some five hundred recording disks.

Paul even built his own disc-cutter assembly, based on automobile parts. He favored the flywheel from a Cadillac for its weight and flatness. Even in these early days, he used the acetate-disk setup to record parts at different speeds and with delay, resulting in his signature sound with echoes and birdsong-like guitar riffs. When he later began using magnetic tape, the major change was that he could take his recording rig on tour with him, even making episodes for his fifteen-minute radio show in his hotel room. He later worked with Ross Snyder in the design of the first eight-track recording deck (built for him by Ampex for his home studio.)[34][35]

Electronics engineer Jack Mullin had been assigned to a U.S. Army Signal Corps unit stationed in France during World War II. On a mission in Germany near the end of the war, he acquired and later shipped home a German Magnetophon (tape recorder) and fifty reels of I.G. Farben plastic recording tape. Back in the U.S., Mullin rebuilt and developed the machine with the intention of selling it to the film industry, and held a series of demonstrations which quickly became the talk of the American audio industry.

Within a short time, Crosby had hired Mullin to record and produce his radio shows and master his studio recordings on tape. Crosby invested US$50,000 in a Northern California electronics firm, Ampex. With Crosby’s backing, Mullin and Ampex created the Ampex Model 200, the world’s first commercially produced reel-to-reel audio tape recorder. Crosby gave Les Paul the second Model 200 to be produced.[citation needed]

Les Paul invented Sound on Sound recording using this machine by placing an additional playback head, located before the conventional erase/record/playback heads. This allowed Paul to play along with a previously recorded track, both of which were mixed together on to a new track. This was a mono tape recorder with just one track across the entire width of quarter-inch tape; thus, the recording was “destructive” in the sense that the original recording was permanently replaced with the new, mixed recording. He eventually enhanced this by using one tape machine to play back the original recording and a second to record the combined track. This preserved the original recording[36]

Les Paul bought the first Ampex 8-track recorder in 1957.[36] Rein Narma built a custom 8-channel mixing console for Les Paul.[37] The mixing board included in-line equalization and vibrato effects The recorder was named “the octopus” and the mixing console was named “the monster”.[38] The name octopus was inspired by W. C. Fields who was the first person Les Paul played a multi-track recording to. Upon hearing the recording W. C. Fields said: ‘My boy, you sound like an octopus.”[39]

Les Paul & Mary Ford

Paul met country-western singer Colleen Summers in 1945. They began working together in 1948, at which time she adopted the stage name Mary Ford. They were married in 1949. The couple’s hits included “How High the Moon”, “Bye Bye Blues”, “Song in Blue”, “Don’cha Hear Them Bells”, “The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise”, and “Vaya con Dios”. These songs featured Ford harmonizing with herself.

Like Crosby, Paul and Ford used the now-ubiquitous recording technique known as close miking,[34] where the microphone is less than 6 inches (15 cm) from the singer’s mouth. This produces a more-intimate, less-reverberant sound than is heard when a singer is 1 foot (30 cm) or more from the microphone. When implemented using a cardioid-patterned microphone, it emphasizes low-frequency sounds in the voice due to a cardioid microphone’s proximity effect and can give a more relaxed feel because the performer isn’t working so hard. The result is a singing style which diverged strongly from unamplified theater-style singing, as might be heard in musical comedies of the 1930s and 1940s.

Radio and television programs

Paul had hosted a fifteen-minute radio program, The Les Paul Show, on NBC radio in 1950, featuring his trio (himself, Ford and rhythm player Eddie Stapleton) and his electronics, recorded from their home and with gentle humor between Paul and Ford bridging musical selections, some of which had already been successful on records, some of which anticipated the couple’s recordings, and many of which presented re-interpretations of such jazz and pop selections as “In the Mood”, “Little Rock Getaway”, “Brazil” and “Tiger Rag”. Over ten of these shows survive among old-time radio collectors today.[40]

The show also appeared on television a few years later with the same format, but excluding the trio and retitled The Les Paul & Mary Ford Show (also known as Les Paul & Mary Ford at Home) with “Vaya Con Dios” as a theme song. Sponsored by Warner Lambert’s Listerine mouthwash, it was widely syndicated during 1954–1955, and was only five minutes (one or two songs) long on film, therefore used as a brief interlude or fill-in in programming schedules. Since Paul created the entire show himself, including audio and video, he maintained the original recordings and was in the process of restoring them to current quality standards until his death.[41]

During his radio shows, Paul introduced the fictional “Les Paulverizer” device, which multiplies anything fed into it, like a guitar sound or a voice. Paul has stated that the idea was to explain to the audience how his single guitar could be multiplied to become a group of guitars. The device even became the subject of comedy, with Ford multiplying herself and her vacuum cleaner with it so she could finish the housework faster.

Later career

Les Paul, May 2004

In 1965, Paul went into semi-retirement, although he did return to the studio occasionally. He and Ford had divorced in December 1962, as she could no longer cope with the traveling lifestyle their act required of them.[citation needed] Paul’s most-recognizable recordings from then through the mid-1970s were an album for London Records/Phase 4 Stereo, Les Paul Now (1968), on which he updated some of his earlier hits; and, backed by some of Nashville’s celebrated studio musicians, a meld of jazz and country improvisation with fellow guitar virtuoso Chet Atkins, Chester and Lester (1976), for RCA Victor.

In 1987, Paul underwent heart surgery. He then returned to active live performance, continuing into his 80s even though he often found it painful to play the guitar because of arthritis in his hands. In 2006, at age 90, he won two Grammys at the 48th Annual Grammy Awards for his album Les Paul & Friends: American Made World Played. He also performed every Monday night, accompanied by a trio which included guitarist Lou Pallo, bassist Paul Nowinksi (and later, Nicki Parrott) and pianist John Colaianni, originally at Fat Tuesdays, and later at the Iridium Jazz Club on Broadway in the Times Square area of New York City.[42][43][44]

Les and his trio held court at the Iridium Jazz Club in midtown Manhattan for many years, playing every Monday night. Often, a wide array of other artists would appear and sit in with or sing in front of the trio. A tribute trio still plays the Monday dates.

Composer Richard Stein (1909–1992) sued Paul for plagiarism, charging that Paul’s “Johnny (Is the Boy for Me)” was taken from Stein’s 1937 song “Sanie cu zurgălăi” (Romanian for “Sleigh with Bells”). A 2000 cover version of “Johnny” by Belgian musical group Vaya Con Dios that credited Paul prompted another action by the Romanian Musical Performing and Mechanical Rights Society.[45]

For many years Les Paul would sometimes surprise radio hosts Steve King and Johnnie Putman with a call to the “Life After Dark Show” on WGN (AM) in Chicago. These calls would take place in the wee hours of Tuesday Morning following his long-running Monday evening show at the Iridium Jazz Club in Manhattan. Until they ended their show on WGN, Steve and Johnnie continued to honor Les on Tuesday Mornings at 2:35 AM with their segment “A Little More Les” drawing from around 30 hours of recorded conversations with Les.

Death

On August 13, 2009,[4][5] Paul died of complications from pneumonia at White Plains Hospital in White Plains, New York.[46] His family and friends were by his side.[47] Paul is survived by his four children and his companion Arlene Palmer.[48] His attorney told the media that he had made several hospital stays over the previous few months.[49] His last concert took place a few weeks before his death.

Upon learning of his death many artists and popular musicians paid tribute by publicly expressing their sorrow. After learning of Paul’s death, former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash called him “vibrant and full of positive energy.”, while Richie Sambora, lead guitarist of Bon Jovi, referred to him as “revolutionary in the music business”. U2 guitarist The Edge said, “His legacy as a musician and inventor will live on and his influence on rock and roll will never be forgotten.” [50][51][52]

On August 21, 2009, he was buried near Milwaukee in Waukesha, Wisconsin at Prairie Home Cemetery which indicated that his plot would be in an area where visitors can easily view it.[53][54] Like his funeral in New York on August 19, the burial was private, but earlier in the day a public memorial viewing of the closed casket was held in Milwaukee at Discovery World with 1,500 attendees who were offered free admission to the Les Paul House of Sound exhibit for the day.[55]

HAPPY SUNDAY!

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Thomas_Edison

I don’t consider myself a workaholic, but if you know me you know I like work. According to Wikipedia there is no generally accepted medical definition of being a workaholic, although some forms of stress, obsessive-compulsive personality disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder can be observed in such persons. I don’t have stress in my life, nor am I obsessive about work,  and I try to live a balanced life having my family in the very center of my being and my attention, but I am of that rare group that wakes up in the mornign eager to go to work, to see my workmates, to chat and learn from my customers and suppliers. In fact, whereas many of my workmates take their birthdays off from work, my perfect birthday would be to wake up around my family, have lunch with my workmates and diner with friends. And in my idle time I prefer thinking and dreamin of new business ideas than watching TV.

That is why it’s no surprise that the vast mayority of people who are members of my “Hall of Honor” are, or were, hard workers and highly productive people. Thomas Alva Edison was such a person, and therefore an important member of my “Hall of Honor”. It could be debatable if his eagerness to work was borderlining with obsession, but it is his teaching about how hard work is the solution to many problems and the only way to success that I want to keep and share. I have read many articles about Edison, but I have to admit I have never read an official biography about this great man, and that shall be my next project. In the meantime, I will publish a quote from Edison that relates to hard work the first Moday of every month for the rest of the year.

I hope you like the quotes, and that they inspire you to look for sucess through work and productivity.

Here’s Wikipedia’s article about Edison. I you would like to read it from Wikipedia’s site click here.

Thomas Edison

Thomas Alva Edison (February 11, 1847 – October 18, 1931) was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. Dubbed “The Wizard of Menlo Park”,[1] he was one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production and large-scale teamwork to the process of invention, and because of that, he is often credited with the creation of the first industrial research laboratory.[2]

Edison is the fourth most prolific inventor in history, holding 1,093 US patents in his name, as well as many patents in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. He is credited with numerous inventions that contributed to mass communication and, in particular, telecommunications. These included a stock ticker, a mechanical vote recorder, a battery for an electric car, electrical power, recorded music and motion pictures.

His advanced work in these fields was an outgrowth of his early career as a telegraph operator. Edison developed a system of electric-power generation and distribution[3] to homes, businesses, and factories – a crucial development in the modern industrialized world. His first power station was on Pearl Street in Manhattan, New York.[3]

Early life

Thomas Edison was born in Milan, Ohio, and grew up in Port Huron, Michigan. He was the seventh and last child of Samuel Ogden Edison, Jr. (1804–96, born in Marshalltown, Nova Scotia, Canada) and Nancy Matthews Elliott (1810–1871, born in Chenango County, New York).[4] His father had to escape from Canada because he took part in the unsuccessful Mackenzie Rebellion of 1837 [5] Edison reported being of Dutch ancestry.[6]

In school, the young Edison’s mind often wandered, and his teacher, the Reverend Engle, was overheard calling him “addled”. This ended Edison’s three months of official schooling. Edison recalled later, “My mother was the making of me. She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt I had something to live for, someone I must not disappoint.” His mother taught him at home.[7] Much of his education came from reading R.G. Parker’s School of Natural Philosophy.

Edison developed hearing problems at an early age. The cause of his deafness has been attributed to a bout of scarlet fever during childhood and recurring untreated middle-ear infections. Around the middle of his career, Edison attributed the hearing impairment to being struck on the ears by a train conductor when his chemical laboratory in a boxcar caught fire and he was thrown off the train in Smiths Creek, Michigan, along with his apparatus and chemicals. In his later years, he modified the story to say the injury occurred when the conductor, in helping him onto a moving train, lifted him by the ears.[8][9]

Edison’s family moved to Port Huron, Michigan, after the railroad bypassed Milan in 1854 and business declined;[10] his life there was bittersweet. Edison sold candy and newspapers on trains running from Port Huron to Detroit, and sold vegetables to supplement his income. He also studied qualitative analysis, and conducted chemical experiments on the train until an accident prohibited further work of the kind.[11]

Edison obtained the exclusive right to sell newspapers on the road, and, with the aid of four assistants, he set in type and printed the Grand Trunk Herald, which he sold with his other papers.[11] This began Edison’s long streak of entrepreneurial ventures, as he discovered his talents as a businessman. These talents eventually led him to found 14 companies, including General Electric, which is still one of the largest publicly traded companies in the world.[12][13]

Telegrapher

Edison became a telegraph operator after he saved three-year-old Jimmie MacKenzie from being struck by a runaway train. Jimmie’s father, station agent J.U. MacKenzie of Mount Clemens, Michigan, was so grateful that he trained Edison as a telegraph operator. Edison’s first telegraphy job away from Port Huron was at Stratford Junction, Ontario, on the Grand Trunk Railway.[14]

In 1866, at the age of 19, Edison moved to Louisville, Kentucky, where, as an employee of Western Union, he worked the Associated Press bureau news wire. Edison requested the night shift, which allowed him plenty of time to spend at his two favorite pastimes—reading and experimenting. Eventually, the latter pre-occupation cost him his job. One night in 1867, he was working with a lead–acid battery when he spilled sulfuric acid onto the floor. It ran between the floorboards and onto his boss’s desk below. The next morning Edison was fired.[15]

One of his mentors during those early years was a fellow telegrapher and inventor named Franklin Leonard Pope, who allowed the impoverished youth to live and work in the basement of his Elizabeth, New Jersey home. Some of Edison’s earliest inventions were related to telegraphy, including a stock ticker. His first patent was for the electric vote recorder, (U.S. Patent 90,646),[16] which was granted on June 1, 1869.[17]

Marriages and children

On December 25, 1871, Edison married 16-year-old Mary Stilwell (1855–1884), whom he had met two months earlier; she was an employee at one of his shops. They had three children:

  • Marion Estelle Edison (1873–1965), nicknamed “Dot”[18]
  • Thomas Alva Edison, Jr. (1876–1935), nicknamed “Dash”[19]
  • William Leslie Edison (1878–1937) Inventor, graduate of the Sheffield Scientific School at Yale, 1900.[20]

Mary Edison died at age 29 on August 9, 1884, of unknown causes: possibly from a brain tumor[21] or a morphine overdose. Doctors frequently prescribed morphine to women in those years to treat a variety of causes, and researchers believe that some of her symptoms sounded as if they were associated with morphine poisoning.[22]

On February 24, 1886, at the age of thirty-nine, Edison married the 20-year-old Mina Miller (1866–1947) in Akron, Ohio.[23] She was the daughter of the inventor Lewis Miller, co-founder of the Chautauqua Institution and a benefactor of Methodist charities. They also had three children together:

  • Madeleine Edison (1888–1979), who married John Eyre Sloane.[24][25]
  • Charles Edison (1890–1969), Governor of New Jersey (1941 – 1944), and took over his father’s company and experimental laboratories upon his father’s death.[26]
  • Theodore Edison (1898–1992), (MIT Physics 1923), credited with more than 80 patents.

Mina outlived Thomas Edison, dying on August 24, 1947.[27][28]

Beginning his career

Edison began his career as an inventor in Newark, New Jersey, with the automatic repeater and his other improved telegraphic devices, but the invention that first gained him notice was the phonograph in 1877.[29] This accomplishment was so unexpected by the public at large as to appear almost magical. Edison became known as “The Wizard of Menlo Park,” New Jersey.[1]

His first phonograph recorded on tinfoil around a grooved cylinder, but had poor sound quality and the recordings could be played only a few times. In the 1880s, a redesigned model using wax-coated cardboard cylinders was produced by Alexander Graham Bell, Chichester Bell, and Charles Tainter. This was one reason that Thomas Edison continued work on his own “Perfected Phonograph.”

Menlo Park

Edison’s major innovation was the first industrial research lab, which was built in Menlo Park, New Jersey. It was built with the funds from the sale of Edison’s quadruplex telegraph. After his demonstration of the telegraph, Edison was not sure that his original plan to sell it for $4,000 to $5,000 was right, so he asked Western Union to make a bid. He was surprised to hear them offer $10,000, ($202,000 USD 2010), which he gratefully accepted.[30]

The quadruplex telegraph was Edison’s first big financial success, and Menlo Park became the first institution set up with the specific purpose of producing constant technological innovation and improvement. Edison was legally attributed with most of the inventions produced there, though many employees carried out research and development under his direction. His staff was generally told to carry out his directions in conducting research, and he drove them hard to produce results.

William Joseph Hammer, a consulting electrical engineer, began his duties as a laboratory assistant to Edison in December 1879. He assisted in experiments on the telephone, phonograph, electric railway, iron ore separator, electric lighting, and other developing inventions. However, Hammer worked primarily on the incandescent electric lamp and was put in charge of tests and records on that device. In 1880, he was appointed chief engineer of the Edison Lamp Works. In his first year, the plant under General Manager Francis Robbins Upton turned out 50,000 lamps. According to Edison, Hammer was “a pioneer of incandescent electric lighting”.[31] Frank J. Sprague, a competent mathematician and former naval officer, was recruited by Edward H. Johnson and joined the Edison organization in 1883. One of Sprague’s contributions to the Edison Laboratory at Menlo Park was to expand Edison’s mathematical methods. Despite the common belief that Edison did not use mathematics, analysis of his notebooks reveal that he was an astute user of mathematical analysis conducted by his assistants such as Francis Robbins Upton, for example, determining the critical parameters of his electric lighting system including lamp resistance by an analysis of Ohm’s Law, Joule’s Law and economics.[32]

Nearly all of Edison’s patents were utility patents, which were protected for a 17-year period and included inventions or processes that are electrical, mechanical, or chemical in nature. About a dozen were design patents, which protect an ornamental design for up to a 14-year period. As in most patents, the inventions he described were improvements over prior art. The phonograph patent, in contrast, was unprecedented as describing the first device to record and reproduce sounds.[33]

In just over a decade, Edison’s Menlo Park laboratory had expanded to occupy two city blocks. Edison said he wanted the lab to have “a stock of almost every conceivable material”.[34] A newspaper article printed in 1887 reveals the seriousness of his claim, stating the lab contained “eight thousand kinds of chemicals, every kind of screw made, every size of needle, every kind of cord or wire, hair of humans, horses, hogs, cows, rabbits, goats, minx, camels … silk in every texture, cocoons, various kinds of hoofs, shark’s teeth, deer horns, tortoise shell … cork, resin, varnish and oil, ostrich feathers, a peacock’s tail, jet, amber, rubber, all ores …” and the list goes on.[35]

Over his desk, Edison displayed a placard with Sir Joshua Reynolds’ famous quotation: “There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.[36] This slogan was reputedly posted at several other locations throughout the facility.

With Menlo Park, Edison had created the first industrial laboratory concerned with creating knowledge and then controlling its application.[37]

Carbon telephone transmitter

In 1877–78, Edison invented and developed the carbon microphone used in all telephones along with the Bell receiver until the 1980s. After protracted patent litigation, in 1892 a federal court ruled that Edison and not Emile Berliner was the inventor of the carbon microphone. The carbon microphone was also used in radio broadcasting and public address work through the 1920s.

Electric light

Main article: History of the light bulb

Edison did not invent the first electric light bulb, but instead invented the first commercially practical incandescent light.[38] Many earlier inventors had previously devised incandescent lamps, including Alessandro Volta’s demonstration of a glowing wire in 1800 and inventions by Henry Woodward and Mathew Evans. Others who developed early and commercially impractical incandescent electric lamps included Humphry Davy, James Bowman Lindsay, Moses G. Farmer,[39] William E. Sawyer, Joseph Swan and Heinrich Göbel. Some of these early bulbs had such flaws as an extremely short life, high expense to produce, and high electric current drawn, making them difficult to apply on a large scale commercially.[40]

After many experiments with platinum and other metal filaments, Edison returned to a carbon filament.[inconsistent] The first successful test was on October 22, 1879;[41] it lasted 13.5 hours.[42] Edison continued to improve this design and by November 4, 1879, filed for U.S. patent 223,898 (granted on January 27, 1880) for an electric lamp using “a carbon filament or strip coiled and connected to platina contact wires”.[43]

Although the patent described several ways of creating the carbon filament including “cotton and linen thread, wood splints, papers coiled in various ways”,[43] it was not until several months after the patent was granted that Edison and his team discovered a carbonized bamboo filament that could last over 1,200 hours. The idea of using this particular raw material originated from Edison’s recalling his examination of a few threads from a bamboo fishing pole while relaxing on the shore of Battle Lake in the present-day state of Wyoming, where he and other members of a scientific team had traveled so that they could clearly observe a total eclipse of the sun on July 29, 1878, from the Continental Divide.[44]

U.S. Patent#223898: Electric-Lamp. Issued January 27, 1880.

In 1878, Edison formed the Edison Electric Light Company in New York City with several financiers, including J. P. Morgan and the members of the Vanderbilt family. Edison made the first public demonstration of his incandescent light bulb on December 31, 1879, in Menlo Park. It was during this time that he said: “We will make electricity so cheap that only the rich will burn candles.”[45]

Lewis Latimer joined the Edison Electric Light Company in 1884. Latimer had received a patent in January 1881 for the “Process of Manufacturing Carbons”, an improved method for the production of carbon filaments for lightbulbs. Latimer worked as an engineer, a draftsman and an expert witness in patent litigation on electric lights.[46]

George Westinghouse’s company bought Philip Diehl’s competing induction lamp patent rights (1882) for $25,000, forcing the holders of the Edison patent to charge a more reasonable rate for the use of the Edison patent rights and lowering the price of the electric lamp.[47]

On October 8, 1883, the US patent office ruled that Edison’s patent was based on the work of William Sawyer and was therefore invalid. Litigation continued for nearly six years, until October 6, 1889, when a judge ruled that Edison’s electric-light improvement claim for “a filament of carbon of high resistance” was valid.[48] To avoid a possible court battle with Joseph Swan, whose British patent had been awarded a year before Edison’s, he and Swan formed a joint company called Ediswan to manufacture and market the invention in Britain.

Mahen Theatre in Brno (in what is now the Czech Republic) was the first public building in the world to use Edison’s electric lamps, with the installation supervised by Edison’s assistant in the invention of the lamp, Francis Jehl.[49] In September 2010, a sculpture of three giant light bulbs was erected in Brno, in front of the theatre.[50]

Electric power distribution

War of currents

Main article: War of Currents

Extravagant displays of electric lights quickly became a feature of public events, as in this picture from the 1897 Tennessee Centennial Exposition.

Edison’s true success, like that of his friend Henry Ford, was in his ability to maximize profits through establishment of mass-production systems and intellectual property rights. George Westinghouse and Edison became adversaries because of Edison’s promotion of direct current (DC) for electric power distribution instead of the more easily transmitted alternating current (AC) system promoted by Westinghouse. Unlike DC, AC could be stepped up to very high voltages with transformers, sent over thinner and cheaper wires, and stepped down again at the destination for distribution to users.

In 1887, there were 121 Edison power stations in the United States delivering DC electricity to customers. When the limitations of DC were discussed by the public, Edison launched a propaganda campaign to convince people that AC was far too dangerous to use. The problem with DC was that the power plants could economically deliver DC electricity only to customers within about one and a half miles (about 2.4 km) from the generating station, so that it was suitable only for central business districts. When George Westinghouse suggested using high-voltage AC instead, as it could carry electricity hundreds of miles with marginal loss of power, Edison waged a “War of Currents” to prevent AC from being adopted.

The war against AC led him to become involved in the development and promotion of the electric chair (using AC) as an attempt to portray AC to have greater lethal potential than DC. Edison went on to carry out a brief but intense campaign to ban the use of AC or to limit the allowable voltage for safety purposes. As part of this campaign, Edison’s employees publicly electrocuted stray or unwanted animals to demonstrate the dangers of AC;[54][55] alternating electric currents are slightly more dangerous in that frequencies near 60 Hz have a markedly greater potential for inducing fatal “cardiac fibrillation” than do direct currents.[56] On one of the more notable occasions, in 1903, Edison’s workers electrocuted Topsy the elephant at Luna Park, near Coney Island, after she had killed several men and her owners wanted her put to death.[57] His company filmed the electrocution.

AC replaced DC in most instances of generation and power distribution, enormously extending the range and improving the efficiency of power distribution. Though widespread use of DC ultimately lost favor for distribution, it exists today primarily in long-distance high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission systems. Low-voltage DC distribution continued to be used in high-density downtown areas for many years but was eventually replaced by AC low-voltage network distribution in many of them.[58]

DC had the advantage that large battery banks could maintain continuous power through brief interruptions of the electric supply from generators and the transmission system. Utilities such as Commonwealth Edison in Chicago had rotary converters or motor-generator sets, which could change DC to AC and AC to various frequencies in the early to mid-20th century. Utilities supplied rectifiers to convert the low voltage AC to DC for such DC loads as elevators, fans and pumps. There were still 1,600 DC customers in downtown New York City as of 2005, and service was finally discontinued only on November 14, 2007.[58] Most subway systems are still powered by direct current.

Other inventions and projects

Fluoroscopy

Edison is credited with designing and producing the first commercially available fluoroscope, a machine that uses X-rays to take radiographs. Until Edison discovered that calcium tungstate fluoroscopy screens produced brighter images than the barium platinocyanide screens originally used by Wilhelm Röntgen, the technology was capable of producing only very faint images.

The fundamental design of Edison’s fluoroscope is still in use today, although Edison himself abandoned the project after nearly losing his own eyesight and seriously injuring his assistant, Clarence Dally. Dally had made himself an enthusiastic human guinea pig for the fluoroscopy project and in the process been exposed to a poisonous dose of radiation. He later died of injuries related to the exposure. In 1903, a shaken Edison said “Don’t talk to me about X-rays, I am afraid of them.”[59]

Media inventions

The key to Edison’s fortunes was telegraphy. With knowledge gained from years of working as a telegraph operator, he learned the basics of electricity. This allowed him to make his early fortune with the stock ticker, the first electricity-based broadcast system. Edison patented the sound recording and reproducing phonograph in 1878. Edison was also granted a patent for the motion picture camera or “Kinetograph”. He did the electromechanical design, while his employee W.K.L. Dickson, a photographer, worked on the photographic and optical development. Much of the credit for the invention belongs to Dickson.[41] In 1891, Thomas Edison built a Kinetoscope, or peep-hole viewer. This device was installed in penny arcades, where people could watch short, simple films. The kinetograph and kinetoscope were both first publicly exhibited May 20, 1891.[60]

On August 9, 1892, Edison received a patent for a two-way telegraph. In April 1896, Thomas Armat’s Vitascope, manufactured by the Edison factory and marketed in Edison’s name, was used to project motion pictures in public screenings in New York City. Later he exhibited motion pictures with voice soundtrack on cylinder recordings, mechanically synchronized with the film.

Officially the kinetoscope entered Europe when the rich American Businessman Irving T. Bush (1869–1948) bought from the Continental Commerce Company of Frank Z. Maguire and Joseph D. Baucus a dozen machines. Bush placed from October 17, 1894, the first kinetoscopes in London. At the same time the French company Kinétoscope Edison Michel et Alexis Werner bought these machines for the market in France. In the last three months of 1894, The Continental Commerce Company sold hundreds of kinetoscopes in Europe (i.e. the Netherlands and Italy). In Germany and in Austria-Hungary the kinetoscope was introduced by the Deutsche-österreichische-Edison-Kinetoscop Gesellschaft, founded by the Ludwig Stollwerck[62] of the Schokoladen-Süsswarenfabrik Stollwerck & Co of Cologne.

The first kinetoscopes arrived in Belgium at the Fairs in early 1895. The Edison’s Kinétoscope Français, a Belgian company, was founded in Brussels on January 15, 1895, with the rights to sell the kinetoscopes in Monaco, France and the French colonies. The main investors in this company were Belgian industrialists.[63]

On May 14, 1895, the Edison’s Kinétoscope Belge was founded in Brussels. The businessman Ladislas-Victor Lewitzki, living in London but active in Belgium and France, took the initiative in starting this business. He had contacts with Leon Gaumont and the American Mutoscope and Biograph Co. In 1898 he also became a shareholder of the Biograph and Mutoscope Company for France.[63]

In 1901, he visited the Sudbury area in Ontario, Canada, as a mining prospector, and is credited with the original discovery of the Falconbridge ore body. His attempts to mine the ore body were not successful, however, and he abandoned his mining claim in 1903.[64] A street in Falconbridge, as well as the Edison Building, which served as the head office of Falconbridge Mines, are named for him.

Other exhibitors similarly routinely copied and exhibited each other’s films.[65] To better protect the copyrights on his films, Edison deposited prints of them on long strips of photographic paper with the U.S. copyright office. Many of these paper prints survived longer and in better condition than the actual films of that era.[66]

Edison’s favorite movie was The Birth of a Nation. He thought that talkies had “spoiled everything” for him. “There isn’t any good acting on the screen. They concentrate on the voice now and have forgotten how to act. I can sense it more than you because I am deaf.”[67] His favorite stars were Mary Pickford and Clara Bow.[68]

In 1908, Edison started the Motion Picture Patents Company, which was a conglomerate of nine major film studios (commonly known as the Edison Trust). Thomas Edison was the first honorary fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, which was founded in 1929.

West Orange and Fort Myers (1886–1931)

Thomas A. Edison Industries Exhibit, Primary Battery section, 1915

Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, and Harvey Firestone, respectively. Ft. Myers, Florida, February 11, 1929

Edison moved from Menlo Park after the death of Mary Stilwell and purchased a home known as “Glenmont” in 1886 as a wedding gift for Mina in Llewellyn Park in West Orange, New Jersey. In 1885, Thomas Edison bought property in Fort Myers, Florida, and built what was later called Seminole Lodge as a winter retreat. Edison and his wife Mina spent many winters in Fort Myers where they recreated and Edison tried to find a domestic source of natural rubber.

Henry Ford, the automobile magnate, later lived a few hundred feet away from Edison at his winter retreat in Fort Myers, Florida. Edison even contributed technology to the automobile. They were friends until Edison’s death.

In 1928, Edison joined the Fort Myers Civitan Club. He believed strongly in the organization, writing that “The Civitan Club is doing things—big things—for the community, state, and nation, and I certainly consider it an honor to be numbered in its ranks.”[69] He was an active member in the club until his death, sometimes bringing Henry Ford to the club’s meetings.

Final years and death

Edison was active in business right up to the end. Just months before his death, the Lackawanna Railroad inaugurated suburban electric train service from Hoboken to Montclair, Dover, and Gladstone in New Jersey. Electrical transmission for this service was by means of an overhead catenary system using direct current, which Edison had championed. Despite his frail condition, Edison was at the throttle of the first electric MU (Multiple-Unit) train to depart Lackawanna Terminal in Hoboken in September 1930, driving the train the first mile through Hoboken yard on its way to South Orange.[70]

This fleet of cars would serve commuters in northern New Jersey for the next 54 years until their retirement in 1984. A plaque commemorating Edison’s inaugural ride can be seen today in the waiting room of Lackawanna Terminal in Hoboken, which is presently operated by New Jersey Transit.[70]

Edison was said to have been influenced by a popular fad diet in his last few years; “the only liquid he consumed was a pint of milk every three hours”.[41] He is reported to have believed this diet would restore his health. However, this tale is doubtful. In 1930, the year before Edison died, Mina said in an interview about him, “correct eating is one of his greatest hobbies.” She also said that during one of his periodic “great scientific adventures”, Edison would be up at 7:00, have breakfast at 8:00, and be rarely home for lunch or dinner, implying that he continued to have all three.[67]

Edison became the owner of his Milan, Ohio, birthplace in 1906. On his last visit, in 1923, he was reportedly shocked to find his old home still lit by lamps and candles.

Thomas Edison died of complications of diabetes on October 18, 1931, in his home, “Glenmont” in Llewellyn Park in West Orange, New Jersey, which he had purchased in 1886 as a wedding gift for Mina. He is buried behind the home.[71][72]

Edison’s last breath is reportedly contained in a test tube at the Henry Ford Museum. Ford reportedly convinced Charles Edison to seal a test tube of air in the inventor’s room shortly after his death, as a memento. A plaster death mask was also made.[73]

Mina died in 1947.

Views on politics, religion and metaphysics

Historian Paul Israel has characterized Edison as a “freethinker”.[41] Edison was heavily influenced by Thomas Paine’s The Age of Reason.[41] Edison defended Paine’s “scientific deism”, saying, “He has been called an atheist, but atheist he was not. Paine believed in a supreme intelligence, as representing the idea which other men often express by the name of deity.”[41] In an October 2, 1910, interview in the New York Times Magazine, Edison stated:

Nature is what we know. We do not know the gods of religions. And nature is not kind, or merciful, or loving. If God made me — the fabled God of the three qualities of which I spoke: mercy, kindness, love — He also made the fish I catch and eat. And where do His mercy, kindness, and love for that fish come in? No; nature made us — nature did it all — not the gods of the religions.[74]

Edison was called an atheist for those remarks, and although he did not allow himself to be drawn into the controversy publicly, he clarified himself in a private letter: “You have misunderstood the whole article, because you jumped to the conclusion that it denies the existence of God. There is no such denial, what you call God I call Nature, the Supreme intelligence that rules matter. All the article states is that it is doubtful in my opinion if our intelligence or soul or whatever one may call it lives hereafter as an entity or disperses back again from whence it came, scattered amongst the cells of which we are made.”[41]

Nonviolence was key to Edison’s moral views, and when asked to serve as a naval consultant for World War I, he specified he would work only on defensive weapons and later noted, “I am proud of the fact that I never invented weapons to kill.” Edison’s philosophy of nonviolence extended to animals as well, about which he stated: “Nonviolence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages.”[75] However, he is also notorious for having electrocuted a number of dogs in 1888, both by direct and alternating current, in an attempt to argue that the former (which he had a vested business interest in promoting) was safer than the latter (favored by his rival George Westinghouse).[76]

Edison’s success in promoting direct current as less lethal also led to alternating current being used in the electric chair adopted by New York in 1889 as a supposedly humane execution method. Because Westinghouse was angered by the decision, he funded Eighth Amendment-based appeals for inmates set to die in the electric chair, ultimately resulting in Edison providing the generators which powered early electrocutions and testifying successfully on behalf of the state that electrocution was a painless method of execution.[77]

Views on money

Thomas Edison was an advocate for monetary reform in the United States. He was ardently opposed to the gold standard, and debt based money. Famously, he was quoted in the New York Times stating “Gold is a relic of Julius Caesar, and interest is an invention of Satan.”[78]

In the same article, he expounded upon the absurdity of a monetary system in which the taxpayer of the United States, in need of a loan, be compelled to pay in return perhaps double the principal, or even greater sums, due to interest. His basic point was that if the Government can produce debt based money, it could equally as well produce money that was a credit to the taxpayer.[78]

He thought at length about the subject of money over 1921 and 1922. In May 1922, he published a proposal, entitled “A Proposed Amendment to the Federal Reserve Banking System”.[79] In it, he detailed an explanation of a commodity backed currency, in which the Federal Reserve would issue interest-free currency to farmers, based on the value of commodities they produced. During a publicity tour that he took with friend and fellow inventor, Henry Ford, he spoke publicly about his desire for monetary reform. For insight, he corresponded with prominent academic and banking professionals. In the end, however, Edison’s proposals failed to find support, and were eventually abandoned.[80][81]

Awards

The President of the Third French Republic, Jules Grévy, on the recommendation of his Minister of Foreign Affairs Jules Barthélemy-Saint-Hilaire and with the presentations of the Minister of Posts and Telegraphs Louis Cochery, designated Edison with the distinction of an ‘Officer of the Legion of Honour’ (Légion d’honneur) by decree on November 10, 1881;[82] He also named a Chevalier in 1879, and a Commander in 1889.[83]

In 1887, Edison won the Matteucci Medal. In 1890, he was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.

The Philadelphia City Council named Edison the recipient of the John Scott Medal in 1889.[83]

In 1899, Edison was awarded the Edward Longstreth Medal of The Franklin Institute.[84]

He was named an Honorable Consulting Engineer at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition World’s fair in 1904.[83]

In 1908, Edison received the American Association of Engineering Societies John Fritz Medal.[83]

In 1915, Edison was awarded Franklin Medal of The Franklin Institute for discoveries contributing to the foundation of industries and the well-being of the human race.[85]

In 1920, The United States Navy department awarded him the Navy Distinguished Service Medal.[83]

In 1923, The American Institute of Electrical Engineers created the Edison Medal and he was its first recipient.[83]

In 1927, he was granted membership in the National Academy of Sciences.[83]

On May 29, 1928, Edison received the Congressional Gold Medal.[83]

In 1983, the United States Congress, pursuant to Senate Joint Resolution 140 (Public Law 97—198), designated February 11, Edison’s birthday, as National Inventor’s Day.[86]

Edison was ranked thirty-fifth on Michael H. Hart’s 1978 book The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History, a list of the most influential figures in history.[87] Life magazine (USA), in a special double issue in 1997, placed Edison first in the list of the “100 Most Important People in the Last 1000 Years”, noting that the light bulb he promoted “lit up the world”. In the 2005 television series The Greatest American, he was voted by viewers as the fifteenth-greatest.

In 2008, Edison was inducted in the New Jersey Hall of Fame.

In 2010, Edison was honored with a Technical Grammy Award.

In 2011, Edison was inducted into the Entrepreneur Walk of Fame, and named a Great Floridian by the Florida Governor and Cabinet.[88]

Tributes

Places and people named for Edison

Several places have been named after Edison, most notably the town of Edison, New Jersey. Thomas Edison State College, a nationally known college for adult learners, is in Trenton, New Jersey. Two community colleges are named for him: Edison State College in Fort Myers, Florida, and Edison Community College in Piqua, Ohio.[89] There are numerous high schools named after Edison (see Edison High School) and other schools including Thomas A. Edison Middle School.

In 1883, the City Hotel in Sunbury, Pennsylvania was the first building to be lit with Edison’s three-wire system. The hotel was renamed The Hotel Edison upon Edison’s return to the City on 1922.[90]

Lake Thomas A Edison in California was named after Edison to mark the 75th anniversary of the incandescent light bulb.[91]

Edison was on hand to turn on the lights at the Hotel Edison in New York City when it opened in 1931.[92]

Three bridges around the United States have been named in Edison’s honor: the Edison Bridge in New Jersey,[93] the Edison Bridge in Florida,[94] and the Edison Bridge in Ohio.[95]

In space, his name is commemorated in asteroid 742 Edisona.

Museums and memorials

Statue of young Thomas Edison by the railroad tracks in Port Huron, Michigan.

In West Orange, New Jersey, the 13.5 acre (5.5 ha) Glenmont estate is maintained and operated by the National Park Service as the Edison National Historic Site.[96] The Thomas Alva Edison Memorial Tower and Museum is in the town of Edison, New Jersey.[97] In Beaumont, Texas, there is an Edison Museum, though Edison never visited there.[98] The Port Huron Museum, in Port Huron, Michigan, restored the original depot that Thomas Edison worked out of as a young newsbutcher. The depot has been named the Thomas Edison Depot Museum.[99] The town has many Edison historical landmarks, including the graves of Edison’s parents, and a monument along the St. Clair River. Edison’s influence can be seen throughout this city of 32,000.

In Detroit, the Edison Memorial Fountain in Grand Circus Park was created to honor his achievements. The limestone fountain was dedicated October 21, 1929, the fiftieth anniversary of the creation of the lightbulb.[100] On the same night, The Edison Institute was dedicated in nearby Dearborn.

Companies bearing Edison’s name

In 1915

  • Edison General Electric, merged with Thomson-Houston Electric Company to form General Electric
  • Commonwealth Edison, now part of Exelon
  • Consolidated Edison
  • Edison International
  • Detroit Edison, a unit of DTE Energy
  • Edison S.p.A., a unit of Italenergia
  • Trade association the Edison Electric Institute, a lobbying and research group for investor-owned utilities in the United States
  • Edison Ore-Milling Company
  • Edison Portland Cement Company

Awards named in honor of Edison

The Edison Medal was created on February 11, 1904, by a group of Edison’s friends and associates. Four years later the American Institute of Electrical Engineers (AIEE), later IEEE, entered into an agreement with the group to present the medal as its highest award. The first medal was presented in 1909 to Elihu Thomson. It is the oldest award in the area of electrical and electronics engineering, and is presented annually “for a career of meritorious achievement in electrical science, electrical engineering or the electrical arts.”

In the Netherlands, the major music awards are named the Edison Award after him. The award is an annual Dutch music prize, awarded for outstanding achievements in the music industry, and is one of the oldest music awards in the world, having been presented since 1960.

The American Society of Mechanical Engineers concedes the Thomas A. Edison Patent Award to individual patents since 2000.[101]

Other items named after Edison

The United States Navy named the USS Edison (DD-439), a Gleaves class destroyer, in his honor in 1940. The ship was decommissioned a few months after the end of World War II. In 1962, the Navy commissioned USS Thomas A. Edison (SSBN-610), a fleet ballistic missile nuclear-powered submarine.

petroleo oman-sand-dunes_1124684c

A man, looking for water found oil. He became rich, but died of thirst.

excuse tumblr_m2ca9v9dlk1r6dchxo1_500

Follow the instructions.

 

1. Choose your excuse for today:

I’m tired

I was up late

It’s too cold

It’s too hot

It’s raining

I’m sleepy

I’m afraid

I can’t

I don’t know how

I’m too old

I’m not old enough

What for?

It’s not that important

It hurts

 

2. Next, do the following:

Forget it

Stop complaining

Get up and do it

21

Exactly one year ago I published “20 things I have learned in 20 years of marriage“, and it has been one of my most popular posts.

Well, today is that day again, my wedding anniversary.

I’m not about to tell all about our celebration last night, but I do want to say that it has been another year of learning and growing together. So, here is my #21:

 

21. There is no substitute for the company of the person you love.

 

(if you want to read the previous 20 click here)

221

When you give more than you recevie you feel full. When you receive more than you give you remian empty. Tradicional math doesn’t apply in matters of the heart.

plan tender

Plan your hours to be productive.

Plan your weeks to be educational.

Plan your years to be purposeful.

Plan your life to be an experience of growth.

Plan to Change, ’cause change will come.

Plan, not to retire from work, but to retire to your passion.

Plan being happy.

moulin-rouge

I first heard this great song while watching the movie Moulin Rouge starring Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman, and ended up buying the album. As far as I know, the movie wasn’t a blockbuster, but I liked it (code word: Nicole Kidman!). Teh whole movie revolves around the song, and it wraps up a great ending. Regardless of if you like the movie or not, this song is great, and one of my favorites. By the way, Ewan and Nicole actually sing it. I hope you enjoy it.

Click here to hear Come What May

https://equiswaye.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/11-come-what-may.m4a

Here are Come What May Lyrics

Never knew I could feel like this
Like I’ve never seen the sky before
Want to vanish inside your kiss
Everyday I love you more and more
Listen to my heart can you hear it sings
Telling me to give you everything
Seasons may change winter to spring
But I love you until the end of time
Come what may Come what may
I will love you until my dying day
Suddenly the world seems such a perfect place
Suddenly it moves with such a perfect grace
Suddenly my life doesn’t seem such a waste
It all revolves around you
And there’s no mountain too high no river too wide
Sing out this song and I’ll be there by your side
Storm clouds may gather and stars may collide
But I love you I love you until the end of time
Come what may come what may
I will love you until my dying day
Oh come what may come what may
I will love you oh i will love you
Suddenly the world seems such a perfect place
Come what may come what may
I will love you until my dying day

Here’s a little more info about Come What May, courtesy of Wikipedia (to read directly from Wikipedia click here)

“Come What May” is a phrase that originates from Shakespeare’s Macbeth and means: let whatever events crop up come to pass. It is the romantic love theme from Baz Luhrmann’s 2001 film Moulin Rouge! It is sung by Ewan McGregor and Nicole Kidman in their respective roles as Christian and Satine. It was composed by David Baerwald and Kevin Gilbert for the film Romeo + Juliet, but was not used. It was then repurposed for Moulin Rouge! The soundtrack lists Baerwald as the sole composer, but in a 2003 lawsuit settlement with Gilbert’s estate, Baerwald acknowledged that he co-authored the song with Gilbert.[1]

It was released as a single in Australia where it became the 8th highest selling single by an Australian artist of 2001.[2] It was also released in the UK, where it charted at #27,[3] and in Germany.[4]

The heartfelt and pure romantic love song on the soundtrack album and the film differ slightly. The lyrics “Every day I love you more and more” and “Listen to my heart, can you hear it sing / Telling me to give you everything” can be heard on the soundtrack version. In the movie, they are replaced by a musical interlude the first time, and, the second time, Satine sings instead of the latter part: “come back to me and forgive everything.” The single version can be found on the original soundtrack, while the original film version can be found on the follow-up soundtrack.

When the forbidden strong and close romantic relationship between Christian and Satine has been discovered, Christian pens this romance song and includes it in the musical he is currently writing. Each time either of them sings this song, they can secretly declare their equally deep and true romantic love for each other. This plays an important role later in the film, as lies and jealousy make it difficult for the truth to stand out.

Musical theatre performers Alfie Boe and Kerry Ellis duet on a version of this song on Boe’s album Bring Him Home. Ellis also performed the song with John Barrowman and Jonathan Ansell on two occasions at BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night is Music Night. The song was recorded as a duet on Lesley Garrett’s album When I Fall In Love, with Michael Ball. Peter Jöback and Helen Sjöholm performed the song for the Swedish Crown Princess Victoria and her husband Prince Daniel at a celebratory concert the night before their 2010 wedding. Jackie Evancho included the song on her 2012 album Songs from the Silver Screen. Katherine Jenkins and Placido Domingo also recorded the song for Jenkins’ 2011 album This is Christmas. Singers and actors Chris Colfer and Darren Criss covered this song in the 15th episode of the 4th season of Glee.

If you want to suggest a Song of the Week, write to me.

Have a Great Sunday!

coins

In my bed-side table I have a tray, where I throw all the coins I receive as change when I go to the store or the movies. It isn’t convenient to carry coins in your pocket, so I never take coins out of the tray, I only put in. After a few weeks, the tray overflows and the coins start to fall out and get lost, so I got an idea.

For many years I have kept the first piggy bank/money box that my Mom gave to me. It is a metal box with a combintaion lock on the door that her bank gave her as a gift for opening her account (back in the days when banks actually gave you anything). It has slot on the back to insert coins. I had not used it in many years, but I kept it for its sentimental value.

caja IMG_4804

I took it out of my “valued stuff box” (my wife calls it the garbage box, and if she had found it there would be no story to share), I cleaned it and set it in my closet. When I get coins as change, I separate them by value, and I save the most valuable (in my country is $10, that equates to US 80¢ aproximately) in my money box, the rest ($5, $2 and $1) I put in a small bag that I carry in my car to give out as charity to street beggers and less fortunate people. Every time the box fills up, I exchange the coins for bigger bills, put them back in the box, and start over again.

My original idea was to save enough money to take my family on a “free” vacation. Fortunately I have been able to take a vacation or two without having to use my savings, so after filling my money box several times, I now have US $2,500 in bills, and the box is already half full.

caja IMG_4800

My habits have changed also. I am now looking for coins, and I regularly find myself paying with bigger bills in hopes of getting coins as change. I made sure my kids saw me opening the box when it was full, and were they surprised! One of them now helps me every time he gets coins as change, and the other one got a box for himself and has adopted this habit (to this day I haven’t been able to get him to tell me how much money he has, but I suspect he may have more than me).

At the beginning I thought I would miss the coins I saved, but I have found I don’t. To be honest, I don’t even know what I did with that money before, and that worries me.

This has help me saving, and helping others, so I wanted to share the story, so in case you like it, you may do something about it.

Happy Savings!!

money

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