By Ron Munden – April 29,2019

It has been over 50 years since I moved to California and almost 20 years since I returned to Texas.  Maybe it is because I am getting older or just because I am bored but for some reason memories of those first few years in the San Francisco Bay Area keep popping into my mind with increasing frequency. Recently I decided to capture these memories so I can at least use them as content on my websites.  I am recording them as they flash into my memory so this will not be a chronological record of that period.  I will try to provide the general timeframe when the events occurred.

As part of my agreement with the Navy, I agreed to work at San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard for a year before entering the University of California, Berkeley.

I was assigned to the Scientific Section which was part of the 1200-person Design Division.  The Scientific Section had about 30 people and worked on Naval Architectural problems.  When I reported to the office, I had no idea what a Naval Architect did.  During the first few weeks, I was taught how to do the basic calculations that were the mainstay of the work assigned to the group.  I was also shown a reference book — The Principals of Naval Architecture.  This was a 11-inch by 17-inch book about 2 inches thick with a green cover.  I was told this green book was the bible of Naval Architecture.  This turned out to be true.  It was the only Naval Architectural text used at Berkeley along with tons of xeroxed materials.

At the Shipyard the day shift ended at 4pm.  Because the building I worked in contained classified material the building was normally locked at 4:30pm.  However, on Tuesday and Thursday, the Design Division worked overtime and the building remained open until 10pm. 

I really wanted to learn something about Naval Architecture.

Although I did not work overtime at this point, I began staying late on some nights and studied the Big Green Book.  A senior Naval Architect from another part of the division, who always worked overtime, noticed that I was always at my desk alone and reading when he passed my desk.  He ask me what I was doing.  I told him I was trying to learn something about principles of Naval Architect by reading the green book.  After that he would drop by at the swing shift dinner break and answer any questions I had.  So, I had a personal tutor.  I enjoyed my study periods and learned an amazing amount with the help of my tutor.

I loved my work at the shipyard, but I hated the work habits of many of the government workers.  Some would sit at their desk reading a newspaper.  Others would gather in groups and bullshit for hours.  At the end of the shift people would begin lining up 15 minutes early at the time clock.  At 4pm a bell rang, and people would punch their timecards and run out of the building.  I refused to do this so was always one of the last people to leave the building.  

The Chief Design Engineer, the senior person in the division, would walk the hall between the open bays of drawing boards.  He would always walk with his eyes looking at the ceiling, so he did not see what was going on around him.

Finally, the timeclock problem got so bad that senior management decided it had to get involved.  The Chief Design Engineer decided he would personally go and talk to each work group.

When he got to my group, he gave his canned speech about not going to the timeclock early.  He ended his speech by saying, “Here in the Design Division we start, and we stop when the bell rings.”  

The other 25 or 30 people in my group nodded their heads.  Unfortunately, I did not stay quiet.  I said, “I guess that this is why so many people at the shipyard act like school kids.”  My remark did not make anyone happy.  The most unhappy person was the Chief Design Engineer.  He did not seem pleased that the most junior engineer in the group would open his mouth.  I can say without question he never liked me from that moment forward.

A case in point.  In 1967 the shipyard had no engineering computers and all work was done on desktop calculators or slide rules.  The calculation my group did most often was to calculate the linear least square.  Since some of the data sets were very large it could take an engineer up to 8 hours to complete a single calculation.  Since there was a high chance of error and the calculation was critical, a second engineer had to repeat the calculation to ensure the results were correct.  

About 6 months after the time clock speech by the Chief Design Engineer, the Design Division got its first programmable calculator.  It was assigned to the Scientific Section.  Since I had taken programming classes in college and loved programming, I was excited. I took the manuals home on the first weekend and learned how to program the machine.  During the weekend I wrote the code so an engineer could key in the data, push a button and the machine would crunch the numbers and print out the result of the linear least square calculation.

On Monday I keyed the code into the machine and after testing the code I showed it to my supervisor.  He immediately recognized the value of the application and showed it to his supervisor.  They decided they needed to have the Chief Design Engineer come down for a demonstration.  

The Chief Design Engineer came to our office and my supervisor explained the value of the software and said it would save many hours of engineering time.   He then had me key in a small data set.

Before I keyed the instruction to begin the calculation, my supervisor said, “this is Ron Munden and he is the engineer that developed this code.”

With that the machine began to do the calculation.  Thirty seconds later the printer began printing out the results on a dot matrix printer.  After looking at the machine for a few seconds, The Chief Design Engineer said, “that machine is very loud” and walked away without saying another word.

I was a little disappointed but not discouraged.  The following weekend I wrote my second program — the Bra Program.  Input was very simple.  The engineer keyed in A, B, C, or D and the machine would print out a crude image of a bra at the proper size.

This time my supervisor did not invite the Chief Design Engineer down for a demo.  However, word spread quickly and many of the 1200 engineers and technicians dropped by and produced their own personal output from the program. 

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By George Smith

In the wild, some dominant males kill or eat the younger members of the group – gorillas, lions and polar bears come to mind.

In the wild world of politics, the same thing can happen; just observe, it’s happening now.

Alexandria Casio-Cortez, at 29 the youngest woman ever to be elected to the House of Representatives. Without a lot of trouble or pushy personal spotlighting, she has become a lightning rod attracting stiff strikes from the Republicans and members of her own party. She has personality-plus, is charismatic in the strictest sense of the word, is intelligent in many subjects, including having social media savvy unparalleled in politics.

Known in her first three months by supporters, detractors, social media posts. headlines and TV news station screen scrawls – AOC – she has already attained the celebrity political status of JFK, LBJ, RFK and MLK. That is not necessarily a good thing; Alexandria Casio-Cortez is a mouthful, AOC can be spat put in an instant.

This New York City resident has already been on the cover of Time for her take-no-prisoners style of pushing forth her agenda, and that fact alone infuriated every Republican with a heart (which should be assumed to be most of them), not to mention her party cohorts who believe she and her “cockamamie” New Green Deal platform is sucking all the air of the party’s standard platform of jobs, health care, Social Security and accepting of immigrants.

In the basic assessment of “too much-too soon,” the AOC aginners in both parties are right.

Youth has its advantages; patience is usually not one of them. AOC has the patience of a horse fly on LSD and the temperament of a honey badger in heat.

On the International Patience-O-Meter, she falls between “None at All” and “You’ve Got to be Freakin’ Kidding Me!”

It certainly does not hurt her overall efforts to note the fact she is a striking young woman, who is as photogenic as one of the younger Kardashian/Jenners (without the snotty attitude); cameras capture her vivaciousness and spirit without much effort. She is, in the shortest time in Congressional history, a true phenomenon…a shooting political star who does not worry about process and protocol, only about setting the national and global stage for results.

Everyone knew the GOP was going to come after her with claws extended; President Trump tweet-storms about her regularly and Fox News anchors castigate her on any slow news day.

The Old Hats of her own party took immediate offense at the lack of experience and depth of her agenda and her overall push for what they thought was only personal spotlight space.

Every one of her detractors are badly misjudging AOC, what she wants and what she expects from her term in office. Of course, she is new and in learning mode. Personally, I could have preferred she learned a little bit more about the inner workings of government before starting to cut the heads off sacred cows and stomping in the blood. But that’s not her style

She is using her instant-celebrity status to try and evoke real change in various segments of society, starting with climate change. She knows her time on this political stage may be relatively short (her goal is not to die in office after 25 terms) and she is not going to just sit there quietly and wait around for leaders to take orders from the monied interests that control 90 percent of elected officials.

She is AOC:


Make fun of AOC at your own risk. To be honest, she doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her or her methods; she only wants positive results for the nation, the world, the future.

Of course, isn’t that what we all would like to be the focus of all of our federal officials. We can argue her method from can to can’t, but it’s hard to argue with her motives … unless you just like to argue for the sake of arguing

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By Ron Munden

It has been over 50 years since I moved to California and almost 20 years since I returned to Texas.  Maybe it is because I am getting older or just because I am bored but for some reason memories of those first few years in the San Francisco Bay Area keep popping into my mind with increasing frequency.

Recently I decided to capture these memories so I can at least use them as content on my websites and  I am recording them as they flash into my memory so this will not be a chronological record of that period.  I will try to provide the general timeframe when the evens occurred.

I will start by story by describing how I ended up in California.  That was never part of my master plan but I definitely had a master plan.

By 1966 I had worked for Marshall architect George Rodgers for about 5 years.  I went to work for him when I was in the 11th grade.  My first job was holding one end of a tape measure when George had to develop set as-built drawing for house so going to renovate.  Over the next couple of years, I learned a lot and was given increased responsibility.   Prior to this job I had worked in my father’s body shop for about 9 years. I hated that work, but I loved the work I did for George.  George paid me when I was doing production work — he also sent time teaching me some drafting techniques between production work.  My father never wanted me to be a bodyman. That’s the reason he put me to work in the shop when I was 9 years old.  He often told me that if I did not get an education, I was going spend my whole life working in that shop. He encouraged me to lean drafting. He helped me build a small drafting table. Most nights I worked on that drafting table improving I techniques.  The summer after my freshman year in college Mr. Rodgers hired me as a full-time draftsman for the summer.  It was a dream job for me.

After spending 3 1/2 year at Austin College playing football and studying liberal arts, I transferred to UT Austin.  George encouraged me to get my degree in Architectural Engineering.  It did not take much encouragement.  That is exactly what I wanted to do.  By 1965 George and I agreed I should graduate with an engineering degree, get my PE license and come back to Marshall and go into partnership with him.  I though my future was set.

But things were about to change …

During the first semester of my senior year at Texas I got cold feet.  By this time, I was married.  I begin to worry about my wife being too literal for Marshall and was concerned she would not fit-in in Marshall.  I was very concerned that this could impact George’s business.

It was at his point I wrote the hardest letter that I have ever written.  I wrote George a letter and told him I had decided it would be unwise for me to returning to Marshall – our plan was not feasible.  It was a difficult decision but in retrospect it was one of I best decisions I never made.  

So, going into by last semester at UT, I have no idea what I wanted to do. I did what so many students that don’t have a plan do — I decided to go to graduate school at Texas.  So, the Spring semester I dual enrolled and took my first graduate course.

Since by this point, I had been in college for 6 years I had a light load my final semester.  I had never traveled so I decided to travel this semester.  In 1967 engineers were in demand.  If you interviewed a company, there was a good chance they would offer you a plant trip.  So, I interviewed not based on what type of work the company did but where it was located.  I interviewed 14 companies and got 13 job offers.  Almost all were a potential trip.

One day a entered the placement office and noticed that San Francisco Bay Naval Shipyard was going to hold interviews.  I thought, “I don’t have a trip to San Francisco.  I going to interview that company.”

The interview started off poorly.  First, I found out that the shipyard was a government organization. I that always said I would never work for the government.   Then they said that the government did not offer plant trips.  This was almost a show stopper.  A trip was the only reason I was doing this interview.

Then the recruiters said the magic works – “There is a shortage of Naval Architects in the country.  With your grades you can get into Berkeley so if you come to work for the Navy, we will pay you to go to school to get your masters degree in Naval Architecture.”

I left the interview not knowing exactly what a naval architect was but absolutely sure that I wanted to be one.

Three months later, two days after graduation from Texas I was in my car driving to San Francisco.

Within a period for 6 months the plan I had made developed almost 5 years earlier had gone up in smoke.  I was not going to get a degree and return to Marshall as a structural engineer.  I was going the University of California, Berkley if I could find out where it was located.

Sometimes your plans just do not work out.

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Circumference of Me – Chapter 5

5. Professional you vs. personal you

       Every aspiring manager should remember this simple axiom: There is life after work.

Consider three ingredients that have nothing to do with work, yet are absolutely necessary for a successful career: Family, friends, and downtime.

Family support during one’s rise in the corporate ranks is crucial to making the various transitions as smooth as possible. Work can be all-consuming, if you let it. But it cannot hug you, or listen to your thoughts, aspirations, and fears. Work cannot ruffle your hair playfully, just to let you know someone cares.

Of course, you have friends at work. If you don’t, work can become drudgery and make long days even longer. And while there’s nothing wrong with having friends who jump the boundary from work to after-work, from a psychological point of view, it is important to have friends who have nothing to do with work. Relaxing with friends from work presents two potential “uh-ohs”: 1) The subject of work will come up, and; 2) with no outside influences, ideas or observations, the flow of creative juices can be greatly inhibited.

Downtime is essential to clear, concise reasoning. Smart managers realize this small truth and make sure they take time off to re-energize. Many top-level managers make time to leave work behind on a regular basis. The ones who understand the value of time away from work always return with new ideas to create a better company. Their creativity is an offshoot of time away from the day-to-day chores that always abound in the modern company.

Your work world will survive if you are not available for a time for e-mail, phone calls or text messages. Truly, it will.  Those who believe otherwise will forever be banished to Office Hell.

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Gut Decisions and Trial Balloons

By George Smith

To get inside the mind of Donald J. Trump, the 45th president of the United States of America and make sense of the decisions he makes would take a world-class team of psychiatrists armed with a bone saw and a commercial grade MRI machine.

The president has said he goes with his “gut” in making important decisions and it’s easy to see how that is the case: He has made decisions that have made cabinet members, leaders and staff of the intelligence agencies, aides and even some followers shaking their heads in amazement.

His penchant for making a decision based the theory of the “trial balloon”, giving aides and cabinet members direct instructions on how to proceed and then reversing it after getting feedback, is the fodder of dysfunctional families and distressed companies.

Trump, for a reason known only to himself, has decided our main allies, the countries whose soldiers have fought and died in mixed regiments made up from the best soldiers from various nations, are not worth having as friendly neighbors in his view of this greerdy, take-no-prisoners world.

Alliances formed when the world was in flames and democratic and freedom-loving nations fought for the right of every nation to be free, were, by the vote of our Electoral College, were battered by the hysterical political newcomer who proclaimed himself a “stable genius”. Trump literally insulted Great Britain, France, Germany and other members of North Atlantic Treaty Organization by berating them with tales of all the United States had done for them since the mid-1940s.

Why, he surmised, are we spending all this money on maintaining military presence in Europe when the affected nations should be spending more money to protect their own turf? This nation has been “Daddy Warbucks” long enough, seemed to be the overall global message.

Each nation is required to spend two percent of its Gross National Product figure on NATO-related expenses; Trump contended, rightly or wrongly, that was not happening and the U.S. was paying far more than its share.

The point is: Having a strong U.S. military presence in Eastern and Western Europe greatly benefits this nation; it’s not simply a matter of money, but the international deterrent and security that is important. Retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges recently addressed this issue, by saying he never imagined a president would kick ‘allies in the a**. When the president refers to the European Union as an enemy of the United States, that’s a gift” to Russia and China.

Trump, by his words, actions and reactions is the Demeanor in Chief. In his rally speeches, tweets and in pubic forums and interviews, he has demeaned women, people of color, countries he does not like (“s**thole countries”), U.S. territories – he said he had talked to the “president of the Virgin Islands” and accused Puerto Rico officials of unfounded charges of corruption as that island territory is still trying to recover from Hurricane Maria, which hit the island in September, 2017.

On April 1, the GOP-controlled Senate (egged on by Trump’s tweets) refused to pass additional aid for Puerto Rico without including relief for flooding and tornado damage for the Midwest. Democrats voted against a second bill providing relief for the Midwest, saying the amount of money for food relief for Puerto Rico was not sufficient.

This is government in the Age of Trump…compromises are for weaklings, each side of an issue takes no prisoners, gives no quarter and the victors get what they want and leave the spoils to the losers.

Where is the nation’s integrity, its generous heart, its moral and ethical soul, its indomitable courage when faced with adversity? We know it existed just a few short years ago; we have witnessed its power to bring nations and people together and spread the gospel of peace and prosperity around the globe; we watched as nations sought to emulate the U.S. and become a sister-beacon of light in a world of darkness.

All we need is a leader who sees the beauty that exists everywhere in this melting-pot nation and understand what made it great was inclusion, not rancor and constant bad-mouthing, bullying and constant expressions of disillusionment.

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