Bill's Bountiful Blog
May I keep you posted on my thoughts, ideas, observations, and silliness?. Am I serious? Is it relevant?. Does anyone care? Probably not much.
But in today's age of everyone has something to say, why not me? And who can blame me for jumping into to the pool? For speaking up For laying it out?
"Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one." - Thomas Wiley, Journalist
If Jimi Hendricks, Prince, and Pavarotti Were Hawaiian
By Wm. May
Published: 05/18/20 Topics: Hawaii, Music, Self Improvement Comments: 0
This blog is not about me. But a bit of background might help. I grew up playing all kinds of music from a young age, not necessarily playing well but playing none the less.
It started with a concert level pianist mother and a father with a soaring tenor voice. I picked up a trumpet in fourth grade, met the high school band instructor and play with him for 8 years through high school.
But first there were piano and trumpet lessons and concerts with the concert band, marching band, stage band, pep band, concert orchestra and even our own little school sponsored "Tijuana Brass" imitation band called - unbelievably in 1969- the Marijuana Brass.
A the age of 13 I happened to hear some new English group called the Beatles on the radio of our tiny neighborhood store Perini's. I was hooked and started a band, then another, playing with many great musicians while we all wanted to become famous and play on the Ed Sullivan TV show.
Or at least we wanted to be swooned over by girls in the way they swooned when watching the Beatles. In 1964, at the age of 13, somehow I talked some parent into driving my bandmates and I the 100 miles to attend a Beatles concerts at the Seattle Center Coliseum.
The Beatles played in the round and the stage slowly revolved so everyone could see them. The sound equipment quality was terrible. The girls screamed so loud we could not hear the music. But we could see the magic.
I played guitar and bass in numerous rock bands and made a living at it for some years, a small living. I partnered in a sound studio, a jingle company and an advertising agency. But eventually moved on to being a fan and not a performer. It was a good run.
In the Charles Cross's biography of Seattle's rock band "Heart", Ann and Nancy Wilson revealed they too attended one of the two times the Beatles played in Seattle.
As they walked out of the concert Nancy, the younger sister, asked , "Why are they all the girls screaming?"
To which Ann said, "They all want to marry the Beatles."
Said Nancy, "We don't want to marry the Beatles, we want to be the Beatles?
And the rest is Heart rock and roll history. They became famous. I did not.
As I said, this blog isn't about me, it is only to imply that I know a little about music and I know that I achieved journeyman status at best.. Years later I stumbled upon a musician who proved it.
Hearing Uncle Willie K music on the radio in Hawaii and then seeing him perform left me flabbergasted by his talent. His skill was astounding and his versatility beyond believing. You can love music and respect the musician at the same time.
Better than all of that, he had a kind of charisma I had never seen - sheer confidence and humor. He knew he could take an audience anywhere he wanted them to go. Including his rendition of "We are the world" completed with uncanny imitations of Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen and Tina Turner. No body else can do that
Eric Gilliom, a versatile TV actor and Hawaiian music master, formed a "Hawaiian Super group" with Willie called Barefoot Natives. Before one show willie asked him what was the most money he had ever made doing a concert. When Eric said something like $10,000 willie sat down and said, "Let me see your $10,000 show tonight."
willie and Eric' sister the superlative Amy Hanaialii Gilliom became a couple and willie produce four award winning albums of their own brand of Hawaiian and other music. I loved the music before I knew who they were. As did every Hawaiian.
William Awihilima Kahaiali'I - willie K - grew up playing young at the knee of his father the nationally known and admired Manu Kahaiali'i. Willie was just one of 13 children, so his Dad played music 7 days a week to pay the bills, everything from jazz, blues and Hawaiian of course.
Maybe that is why he branched in so many musical directions. He idolized Jimi Hendricks and prince. That lead him to just about every other kind of music. He was famous for Christmas Carols, but also Salsa, Jazz and Reggae.
He was sought out and accompanied Mick Fleetwood of Fleet Mac, his solo chagrined Billy Idol of ZZ top, Prince praised him, Willy Nelson sang duets with him, but so did Alice Cooper. BB king invited him on stage, he sang with the Commodores and he laughed with comedian Jim Cary. Barack Obama played willie K loud during workouts. willie and Steven Tyler became best buddies.
Maybe they loved they guy because they felt a little like me - unworthy.
He was known through out the world for guitar and ukulele skills but 10 years ago at a local Hawaiian concert he baffled the audience when he dismissed the other musicians from stage, stood silent a long while and finally said, very somberly,
"I am very sad. Last week Pavarotti died. I think he and I were brothers. Tonight I will sing Nessum Dorma"
Afterward, 800 people sat silent and then jumped to their feet screaming "Hanna Hou" (encore). It was the start of many appearances with symphony's singing opera music. On a trip to Israel he brought Jewish congregations to tears by mastering the Israeli national nation.
In 2018, willie K announced that he had contracted a very aggressive cancer, but promised to keep performing as he always had, at every opportunity. His Maui Bluest fest continued each year. He took aggressive treatment but in the end he died quietly at his home May 18, 2020 surround by Ohana.
I didn’t know William Awihilima Kahaiali'I personally, and yet everyone who saw him perform knew him personally. The way it is with all great musicians and performers, they leave themselves, their skills, their personalities and souls on stage with all to see.
Upon hearing of willie's passing, Alice Cooper said it best, "Heaven will be in for one hell of a surprise. I can almost hear the thunderous applause."
There are so many links because of the variety. Couldn't stop myself.
Author: Wm. May – Music Fan
Blog #: 0757 – 05/18/20
Sneaky Band Instructor Steals the Show
By Wm. May
Published: 10/14/19 Topics: Aberdeen Washington, Education, Music, People, Self Improvement Comments: 0
I had some amazing music teachers in my life as a student.
A year ago, while searching for a high school teacher to attend our 9th reunion (which sound so much better thant our 50th year reunion,) I found that my high school band instructor, Mr. Hampton Wines, was still alive at age 94.
Online, I concluded he lived at the same address. After telephoning his number repeatedly with no answer, I finally knocked on his door and was delighted to find him there and robust as ever.
We spent two hours reliving the past. He had memories of me that I did not remember, which made me feel special and appreciated, but in further stories, he remembered every student I could name and many I no longer remembered. He knew who was a good musician, who played flat, and those who were late to rehearsals.
For 50 years, I had waited to ask a question. I thought I remembered that the junior high band instructor visited our grade school in an attempt to teach 4th graders to play instruments, such as the heavy brass trumpet I was assigned and was so proud of.
But did I remember correctly that there was another mysterious man who occasionally attended rehearsal (such as it was) and stood at the back listening intently? "Was that you by any chance?" I ventured.
"Of course, it was me, looking for talent to groom." he insisted. "If football coaches can recruit, so can I. I lost many kids to football, but I got most of the good ones."
It must have paid off. Under my relentless questioning, he admitted that in 42 years of annual high school band competitions, his bands always won, and in fact, he admitted to never receiving anything less than a perfect score.
"Is that true? How is that possible," I asked. He answered with a laugh and the old cliché, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?
"Practice. Practice. Practice."
Very distinctly, I remember sitting in the rehearsal room, as he taught, picking apart every error and begrudgingly giving compliments for every well-done passage. I can hear it now as he picked me out of the 60-member band, stopped the tune, and said:
"Mr. May, that is a B and not a B flat. Ok, everyone, go again everyone, third page, top line."
It seems Mr. Wines followed the Henry Ford method of "No blame. No shame. Just fix it."
My memory of the band's quality has proof. As a sophomore, the band recorded an entire album when having tape recording technology was rare. Band, stage band, orchestra, and all with guest soloist Doc Severson, then the longstanding band leader for the NBC TV network's Tonight Show. A very big deal.
"How did you get him to come to our little out of the way town?" I asked.
"I made telephone calls until, eventually, I got him on the phone and invited him to come. He came. And he was very impressed with your musician classmates."
In addition to the Beatles and other rock and roll bands we loved in high school, a novelty group called the "Tijuana Brass" had hit after hit on the radio.
To show how naive the world was in my sophomore year of 1967, the name of our school-sanctioned, seven-piece band was "The Marijuana Brass." By my junior year, the principal had caught on and changed it to "The MJB's."
In my Senior year, I dropped out of band to spend full time playing guitar and bass in a rock and roll band that traveled every weekend.
"It hurt me when anyone quit band, such a waste," he said. In 42 years, he must have taught thousands of kids. How could he remember me?
Like so many teachers, his example, his influence have never left me. I haven't played music in a very long time, although I now own all the guitars I could not afford as a kid. Music is central to my soul, to how I think, to what I consider beautiful.
And, in other endeavors, I am never sure if I have ever achieved anything, but I am sure I always practice, practice, practice to know the music precisely, play on key, and perform as you mean it. Damn him.
"Practice. Practice. Practice."
And at age 94, he still gets up early to practice the trumpet for an hour before he plays the piano for an hour and then drives himself to church. He misses his wife, who died a few years ago. His son and daughter are successes in life, as are his grandchildren. But, of course, they are.
On the day of the reunion, Mr. Wines was not feeling well enough to attend, but he did arrange to have the current high school marching band attend in full uniform. Although he has not been the band instructor for many years, his legacy remains. They were fabulous.
The band knew the music precisely, played on key, and performed as they meant it, as expected.
You can support teachers like Mr. Wines and musician students jukst tarting out, by contributing to the "Hampton Wines Scholarhip Fund"
Author: Wm. May – Lapsed Musician
Blog #: 0789 – 10/14/19
Be Nice Or They Will Spit In Your Food
By Wm. May
Published: 03/28/18 Topics: Behavior, Cooking, Music, People, Self Improvement Comments: 0
It is too easy to believe that the world has changed, that it has become less predictable and that human beings have become less considerate, more harsh, more uncaring. Although I surely hope that is not true, remembering a warning from long ago, tells me things don't really change.
He was a friend, we played in a band together. He was the guitar player, the singer, and he was brilliant. I don't mean run-of-the-mill smart, but intelligent in a happy, smiling way that just says, "I know what I know." And more importantly, that he believed it. So we did, too.
The drummer in the band had gone to school with him since kindergarten. Both were 4.0 students in college. When queried the drummer said, "Yes, we are both straight A students, but I am fully aware that he has never gotten anything other than a perfect score."
Math and science, of course. 4.0. English and Chemistry A+. But also band, gym, student newspaper, and everything else. And of course, he was an Eagle Scout.
We actually made good money in the band, but the guitar player went off most summers to unknown small towns, where he was given a bicycle to ride around town selling encyclopedias. The sales pitch he learned bled over into his personality as truly a compassionate, truly caring and casual approach. His language was always friendly and non-threatening.
As we ate dinner in a local café, another band member mentioned their hamburger tasted like leather and he had decided to send it back to the kitchen. The guitarist laughed and said, "That's OK to send it back, but never be an ass about it."
Karl had also made money by working as fry cook in a local diner. He said, "You do know that if a customer is rude, the cooks will spit in the food before they return it back."
I laughed and said, "No, don't tell me that. Tell me it's not true." The guitar player smiled that smile that we'd come to recognize when he is absolutely sure he knows the facts and we don't.
"Oh yes, they will."
"Because cooks, dishwashers and wait staff aren't paid much, and certainly not enough to put up with bad people."
"But they could lose their jobs."
"Doesn’t matter, you can only push people so hard, before they fight back"
This conversation happened many years ago, Over years of dealing with customers, clients and people certainly more powerful than cooks, some have caused me to think of the guitarist.
People who get paid highly, such as maybe your doctor, dentist, accountant or lawyer, might listen and not react to bad manners. Your family may ignore your behavior. Your neighbors can avoid you.
But when dealing with everyone else, especially those who serve us all in restaurants, hotels, and even governmental offices, remember this. Be nice, or they will (in some way) spit in your food. And they'll laugh, because you'll never know.
Although he has continued to play music for years, the guitarist became a big success in his chosen profession, built wealth, raised a family and - I can imagine - he was loved by his customers, staff and partners.
I regret that we have not kept in close contact over the years, but I don’t have to imagine this, because I am absolutely sure. He has remained a pleasant, considerate person. He was far too smart to act in any other way.
Author: Wm. May
Blog #: 0596 – 03/28/18
Wisdom from Catherine the Great
By Wm. May
Published: 01/09/17 Topics: Education, Gratitude, People, Self Improvement Comments: 1
For a dozen years Catherine and I worked hand in hand with sometimes demanding clients and difficult people. She was never confused. Never flustered.
She talked with people on the phone from all corners of the U.S. and Canada. When I met those people at conferences they always wanted to know about Catherine instead of me. Who could blame them, she was far more intriguing.
She addressed everyone with their title such as "Mr. Jones." But when they insisted on being called Robert she would agree. But on their next phone call she was back to "Mr. Jones". She believed, "Everyone likes to be respected. It is such a small thing, why not?"
For many years, she had been an assistant to the mayor of a major city at a time when protests, riots and even bombings were common due to opposition to Vietnam and ongoing racial unrest.
Catherine saw herself as the only voice of reason. At our office, she always "dressed up, because you never know when you have to dress someone down." And yet, even that was said quietly, calmly and with a hint of a smile around her eyes.
In client meetings she always wore white gloves because "Everyone should learn how to conduct themselves graciously to be taken seriously." And, "Why not, I love to look lovely in gloves."
Catherine always donned a lovely, well-coiffured wig and had quite a collection to go with her every outfit. Along with gracious manners, she did not mince words. "I tell it like it is, but tell it respectfully" and she demanded the same from others.
"Be friendly with everyone, and soon they will become friends."
"If you can't say something nice, I recommend you learn how."
"Never raise your voice, or they will scream back at you."
"If you don't stand up for something, you will fall for everything."
At home, Catherine was a different person. A 6 foot 2 inch power house who spoke forcefully, sported 2- foot long dreadlocks (although we never actually saw them), loved dashiki's and performing her poetry. She had a laugh that could shake buildings.
She often wrote well into the night, but was never late for her 9am start time. She never missed a day of work, because "I can count on people, if they can count on me."
Catherine said there are always three sides to every issue, not just two. We talked often about religion, politics and racism. For example, there are not just racists and non-racists, but a third person she tried to be.
She lectured me that African Americans are no more homogenous than anyone else. "Like all races, rich may look down on poor, thin people avoid fat folks, tall people feel superior to short people, and - this was news to me - some lighter skin African Americans look down on darker skinned people."
"Racism among all Americans is the more overt part of "me-ism," she explained. "Everyone starts with 'me first', my children second, my family third, my friends fourth and, then, maybe everyone else. You can't wipe out racism until everyone of us admits that."
That led to her absolute conviction that "We are all prejudiced. Not just whites, but yellows and reds and blacks." She concluded that racism could be eliminated if every one of us does it personally and the place to start is in our own hearts.
"The question isn't whether you are racist, the question is are you trying not be?"
Sadly, we lost Catherine with a late night phone call saying she had died unexpectedly at the age of 52. We were stunned. My son had adored her. My wife had been charmed. We called her Catherine the Great.
But she left behind this - for years I have accepted the truth of me-ism and that every day I must try to do better than the day before. Maybe someday maybe slowly bigotry will become a thing of memory, if we can all do just that. Try.
Author: Wm. May
Blog #: 0752 – 01/09/17
Server Crash All Night Bash
By William May
Published: 03/25/16 Topics: Self Improvement Comments: 0
At 1am, a warning text message buzzes on my phone. One or more of the computer network servers is down. Not working. Kaput.
With luck it is just a glitch, that a simple setting or a simple reboot will solve. It happens, so I'm out the door, in the car and down to our data center.
But this time, the server will not re-start, the indictor lights look suspicious. You try again and finally realize this puppy is toast. As in maybe ready for the scrape heap.
Websites are down, business is being missed and all is at risk. Contingencies have been made against the loss of data but not all backups are perfect. You never know if they work until you need to restore them.
And you hope to never have to test the restoring.
Luckily you have a spare server but swapping all the data is a problem, and a re-install of the operating system is also in order. Tricky stuff maybe, but tricky enough to bring in an expert.
By now its 2AM and time to call the System Administrator, get him out of bed, into his car and down to the office.
When he arrives at 3AM his first words are, "Why are you here?"
And I reply, "My Dad said to."
"What are you talking about?, he says and walks off toward the server room.
He doesn't know my Dad owned a truck repair shop and he doesn't know that my Dad often got calls from truck drivers frantic for a repair in the wee hours of the morning. He doesn't know my Dad always helped even when there was little or no money in it.
As a young child I did not understand, why my Dad would always go to the shop if he had to call a mechanic to go to the shop. As a child, I didn't keep track of time but I knew they often stayed there late into the night.
As an adult, now I understand. I know my Dad was not a mechanic. I know he probably wasn't much help to the mechanics.
Or was he?
All work goes easier with help. Helping hands make light work. All work goes faster when you know others appreciate your work. All work becomes a joy if you decided to make it so.
So as I watched the server's being swapped last night. I saw the Administrator go through a myriad of complicated operating system settings, then test and retest the system. I had little to offer.
But as the system administrator left the office some hours later having put everything right, he stopped to say, "I appreciate that you stayed."
"No problem", I said, "My Dad said to."
My dad always said "No problem" to just about everything and then he always smiled.
The military says leaders lead from the front. Honor says to never asked others to do what you would not be willing to do. Fair play demands helping when not asked.
Author: William May, MayPartners
Blog #: 0499 – 03/25/16
Assumptions Make Everyone Equally Unhappy
By William May
Published: 02/27/16 Topics: Self Improvement Comments: 0
Jerry Belson, Hollywood writer, director and producer is created with coining the phrase, "Never assume, because when you assume, you make an ass of you and me."
In the age of internet, instant information and fast communication there is no reason to make stupid rude assumptions. So why does it seem like there are more asinine assumers than ever before?
Could it be that the ability to write flame emails, make anonymous online posts, and assail people behind their backs knowing the target of their vile have no way to respond, as caused an explosion of insensitivity? Are assumers just cowards who would never have dared to confront people face to face?
Here are a few doozey's in the lodging managing business, all delivered with anger:
Guest: "I just assumed there would be Internet in this house, even though its 40 miles from the nearest town."
Property Owner: "I just assumed the guests would not mind if I remodeled the bathroom while they were there."
Guest: "I just assumed it would be OK to invite a couple dozen drunken friends for a party as long as they did not stay the night."
Property Owner: "I just assumed you would not charge me for looking for my lost phone, even though its an hour or two round trip."
None of these examples are terribly important but they are improperly presumptive and often delivered with an air of superiority all intend to make lodging, food and other service personnel like slaves.
So why do seemingly intelligent, professional adults treat others so badly?
Some feel a misguided sense of entitlement. Others take frustration in their lives out on anyone who is handy. Some blame others for their intellectual inability to solve problems. Some want to feel elite by making other feel inferior.
But mostly - assuming something before asking questions requires an emotional maturity that some people just never learned from parents, friends, spouses or coworkers. Until someone confronts them, they will continually increase their asinine behavior unabated.
So how to avoid making an ass out of yourself and others?
Follow the golden rule, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.."
Get the facts before making assumptions. Ask questions before making assumptions. Never assume you are right, or the other person is wrong. It’s the adult thing to do. The courteous thing to do.
Jerry Belson would have agreed with Abraham Lincoln who said, "Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt."
Author: William May, MayPartners Inc.
Blog #: 0491 – 02/27/16
The Genius Truck Mechanic
By William May
Published: 11/11/15 Topics: Boats, Self Improvement Comments: 0
At the age of 15, I was very sure that Mr. Stearns - a mechanic in the log truck shop my father managed - was a genius.
Although his first name was Jim, I would never have called him that because he was my father's age, he had a regale bearing and he was a legend in the industry. It's not disrespectful to say he was the only genius in the shop, because everyone who worked there knew it.
Repairing big rigs is not a simple job. Diagnosing such a large machine with so many parts and systems requires comprehension of physics, hydraulics, engineering, pneumatics, electronics, and internal combustion.
Before the advent of computers I marveled at the incredible precision which engineers and part manufacturers made things. How did they do it?
Many people are able to master basic mechanic skills with school training, on the job experience, and mentoring. (In those days, use of the word "mentoring" would have made everyone chuckle.)
Among mechanics there are echelons of knowledge. No one knows it all, and everyone must consult manuals and colleagues occasionally. Everyone except Mr. Stearns.
If you have ever visited a repair shop you would have noticed something odd about Mr. Stearns space. Unlike other mechanics, his area was immaculately organized. It was the only space that was never dirty, and every tool and part was just as it should be.
While other mechanics hustled about, Mr. Stearns seemed to move slowly. While others became dirty and grimy crawling in, around and under trucks Mr. Stearns coveralls remained neat and pressed just as if they had came off an ironing board.
Truck shops make money by charging a standard hourly shop rate for each of the mechanics. Today that fee often exceeds $100 per hour.
There are manuals that specify the numbers of hours that should be required to undertake many common repairs. Even major engine overhauls have a specific set of hours assigned. Jobs can take an hour, many days or even weeks.
Mr. Stearns never looked at those budgets and did not want to know what they were. Although there was a kind of hierarchy, he was left to his own devices - but the time he took for jobs was consistently half of the allocated time. The shop made lots of money allowing him to his own devices.
Focus Solves Problems
When my water-ski boat sunk (don’t ask) he volunteered to take apart the submerged motor that everyone knew would never run again. The engine was so antiquated that to put the boat in reverse required stopping the motor, and restarting it in reverse so that the crank shaft actually went in the opposite direction.
It was a morass of double electronics that would have perplexed Nikola Tesla. Mr. Stearns said he knew very little about boat motors but, one night after work he carefully took it apart piece by piece.
After removing the convoluted electronics he unbolted the cylinder head, carefully extracted the pistons, bearings, and valves, taking time to carefully clean and place every piece on clean white rags atop his tool chest. The pistons and valves were arranged together in order. Each piece was lined up perfectly with the other. It was like a work of art.
Just as carefully, he put all the pieces back into the motor block. Then, just as carefully, cleaned and put every tool back into the chest high tool chest. It was almost midnight now.
"Do you think it will ever run again?" I asked.
"Of course it will run. I put it back together perfectly, didn't I?" he murmured.
He turned the switch and the 75 horsepower behemoth roared to life.
Let Professionals Perform
As he turned off the motor, he turned and faced me square. "Because you are young and interested, I am violating the secret to my success. I have allowed you to help."
I was perplexed, so he continued. "See that sign?"
I looked above his work bench.
- Shop Labor $30 per hour
- If you watch $40 per hour
- If you help $50 per hour
"You see young William (he always called me young William) talk can be a good thing. But customers need to allow experts to work, and to get the hell out of the way."
Old Fashioned Smarts
Today's concepts of co-working, team-building and the sharing economy can help people achieve and succeed. But there is much to be said for personal focus, study and concentration.
Over the years, I have seen similar signs and I follow their wisdom. I remind myself to not watch, not help and to allow that person to go about doing their best work for me.
I can only wish that clients would follow the same advice. Some feel that they can become experts overnight. Some have nothing better to do. Others just cant help but stir the soup.
Wise clients allow experts they hire to do their magic, to spend their time serving them instead of justifying their work. Wise clients judge only the outcome, not the methods.
Author: William May, MayPartners
Blog #: 0460 – 11/11/15
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