Tonight was my first time taking care of my son alone.  It went pretty well I think.  He was grumpy for part of the night, and he was making totally stupid adorable coo-ing and random noises while smiling the rest of the night, and that right there, I know, is what makes it all worth it.

                I can’t help but to think that it’s the same day that my father had a lung biopsy for potential lung cancer.  I also can’t help but to think that ever since my father retired from his job at Boeing, his health has went downhill really quickly.  It’s not right.  You work hard all of your life, so that when you get older, you can relax, and enjoy the finals decades of your life.  Instead of my Dad getting the chance to do that, he spends four hours a day in the hospital getting infusions to keep his kidneys from failing from his parathyroid problems.  He really needs to be around to watch his grandchild grow up, because I know that the only reason I am as strong (and stubborn) as I am, is because of my father.  He’s the one person I look up to in my life.  Him and I have never really been that close, but we really don’t have to be, we both have an understanding of each other.

                My father retiring also reminds me that I’m never going to be able to retire unless I become really, REALLY rich, fairly quick, there’s not going to be a social security fund for me but the time I’m that age, if I even make it that long.  It’ll be nice if the world’s finances would stabilize between now and then, because right now, the way I see it, the dollar is going to be worth nothing, very soon.  But this rant is for a later time, I’m tracking off course here.

                Then I can’t help but to think what kind of father that I’ll be.  I don’t really feel like a good one, but I’m trying my hardest to be the best person that I can be for him and Tahnee both.  I constantly feel like it’s never enough.  This is all new to me, and I’m better at sticking with what I know.  Technology, photography, weather, emergency response scenarios, survival, I am excellent at.  Raising a child, hell if I know.  I sure am thankful that Tahnee’s good with kids, don’t know what I would do without her in this situation.

                What I do know, is that I am very thankful for everything I have in my life at the moment.  Good family, good future family (I’ll get to that in a minute), good close friends, good job, nice house, nice car, love everything that I do, and a very attractive girl that loves me, even though she has a hard time trusting me.

                This last weekend, my son, Tahnee, Tahnee’s Mom, and I went to Liberal, Kansas to spend time with her family.  If you don’t know where Liberal, Kansas is, Google it, it’s literally in the middle of nowhere.

                Anyways, I went to the middle of nowhere to visit future family in law, and actually had a good time.  I had already expected to have an alright time, but never thought that it would be a totally good and fun time.  That definitely says something.  I’m not sure what yet, but it definitely says something.

                It’s also definitely strange how much Tahnee’s cousin Ashley looks so much like Tahnee.  They look and act like twin sisters.

                This week, it’s non-stop work, as usual, an Iron Man 3 premiere, with a showing of Serenity afterwards at Midnight.  Date night will be fun.  My concern of course, was being able to find a babysitter after I bought the tickets so that I could be sure that we could make the movies.  I should stop being so concerned about things, so many people wanted to babysit.  Totally awesome that so many people wanted to help out.  That’s the stuff that makes me feel good about life.

                Also, it’s pretty important to note that Star Trek: Into Darkness, premieres in half a month, and I already have tickets for that, too.   And a babysitter lined up for that night.

                I need to start taking better care of myself soon.  I need to be around for my son.

                That’s all for tonight.  Enjoy the new blog site.  And enjoy Craig Ferguson, he’s pretty amazing.

Goodnight, Internet.

MM

Websites update…

This blog is now sitting at http://mathia.co – if you got here from one of my other sites, they might be shut down soon.  Here’s the update:

http://dj69online.com is shutting down.  I will continue to post local, regional, and national DJ’s, as well as my remixes on here but it’ll be here, at http://mathia.co instead of it’s own domain. 

http://kswx.net is also shutting down this summer.  All previous and future posts from there are and will be at http://mathia.co from now on. 

http://mikemathia.com is still the primary landing spot.  From this spot you can get to me or what I do however you’d like. All links on this landing page are now up to date. 

 

 

Things have been crazy lately, and busy as always.  Updates coming when I have more time. 

 

Mike

 

The Hacker Manifesto

by+++The Mentor+++Written January 8, 1986

Another one got caught today, it’s all over the papers. “Teenager Arrested in Computer Crime Scandal”, “Hacker Arrested after Bank Tampering”…

Damn kids. They’re all alike.

But did you, in your three-piece psychology and 1950′s technobrain, ever take a look behind the eyes of the hacker? Did you ever wonder what made him tick, what forces shaped him, what may have molded him?

I am a hacker, enter my world…

Mine is a world that begins with school… I’m smarter than most of the other kids, this crap they teach us bores me…

Damn underachiever. They’re all alike.

I’m in junior high or high school. I’ve listened to teachers explain for the fifteenth time how to reduce a fraction. I understand it. “No, Ms. Smith, I didn’t show my work. I did it in my head…”

Damn kid. Probably copied it. They’re all alike.

I made a discovery today. I found a computer. Wait a second, this is cool. It does what I want it to. If it makes a mistake, it’s because I screwed it up. Not because it doesn’t like me… Or feels threatened by me.. Or thinks I’m a smart ass.. Or doesn’t like teaching and shouldn’t be here…

Damn kid. All he does is play games. They’re all alike.

And then it happened… a door opened to a world… rushing through the phone line like heroin through an addict’s veins, an electronic pulse is sent out, a refuge from the day-to-day incompetencies is sought… a board is found. “This is it… this is where I belong…” I know everyone here… even if I’ve never met them, never talked to them, may never hear from them again… I know you all…

Damn kid. Tying up the phone line again. They’re all alike…

You bet your ass we’re all alike… we’ve been spoon-fed baby food at school when we hungered for steak… the bits of meat that you did let slip through were pre-chewed and tasteless. We’ve been dominated by sadists, or ignored by the apathetic. The few that had something to teach found us willing pupils, but those few are like drops of water in the desert.

This is our world now… the world of the electron and the switch, the beauty of the baud. We make use of a service already existing without paying for what could be dirt-cheap if it wasn’t run by profiteering gluttons, and you call us criminals. We explore… and you call us criminals. We seek after knowledge… and you call us criminals. We exist without skin color, without nationality, without religious bias… and you call us criminals. You build atomic bombs, you wage wars, you murder, cheat, and lie to us and try to make us believe it’s for our own good, yet we’re the criminals.

Yes, I am a criminal. My crime is that of curiosity. My crime is that of judging people by what they say and think, not what they look like. My crime is that of outsmarting you, something that you will never forgive me for.

I am a hacker, and this is my manifesto. You may stop this individual, but you can’t stop us all… after all, we’re all alike.

The Photography Business and The American Dream

Here’s how I define the American Dream:  living a middle-class or better lifestyle while building enough wealth to send your kids to college and retire at a reasonable age (i.e. before you’re too old and infirm to enjoy it).  Your mileage may vary.  Personally, I have much higher financial goals than this but I’ll use this as a baseline for this discussion.

This post is based on the experience and knowledge that an MBA and 20 years of business experience (both inside and outside of photography) has brought me.  It is probably the most important post that I’ll ever write.  If you plan on making photography your career, please don’t skip this one.

______________________________

There are lots of ways to build enough wealth to live the dream. I’ll outline some of them here:

The Investor

The Investor is at the very top of the wealth-building food chain.  Just about all of the wealthy (entertainers and athletes aside) have generated their wealth through investment.  That is, through ownership of assets – either businesses or real estate.  They’ve earned their wealth by (1) being willing to take big risks and (2) by using leverage.  I’m not talking about saving some of your salary and buying mutual funds here.  Think bigger.

Let’s take, for example, a fairly typical real estate investor. He buys a small commercial property for $500,000.  He put 20% down ($100,000) and took a $400,000 mortgage.  His tenants pay enough rent to cover the operating expenses, including the mortgage.  He was smart and bought in the right market. Twelve years later he sells the building for $1,000,000.  His profit?  He turned $100,000 into $1,000,000  – a $900,000 profit (less the repayment of the remaining mortgage)  in 12 years.  Or in other words, 30 years worth of income for the average photographer made with a single deal.

It’s easy to see why/how most large fortunes are made this way.

“You see that building? I bought that building ten years ago. My first real estate deal. Sold it two years later, made an $800,000 profit. It was better than sex. At the time I thought that was all the money in the world. Now it’s a day’s pay.” Gordon Gekko

The Professionals

Professionals (dentists, lawyers, accountants, etc.) build wealth in a couple different ways.  First, they can earn high incomes.  The primary reason for the high income is that their profession may require a high level of expertise acquired at a very high cost.  It takes a lot of time and money to become a lawyer.  Four years of undergraduate education, three years of law school, and then you have to pass the bar exam.  This is an extremely high barrier of entry.  Graduating from a top law school raises that barrier even higher.  For example, the median starting salary for lawyers graduating from New York University (my alma mater, although I went to the business school, not the law school) is greater than $160,000. Not bad for an entry level job.

But beyond salary, professionals build wealth through equity and leverage/scalability just like investors do. The lawyer eventually becomes a partner, which opens him up to ownership of his firm.  And then there’s the leverage – the lawyer no longer makes the bulk of his earnings through his own labor.  He begins to earn income through the labor of his employees (law firm associates).

The Corporate Employee

Entrepreneurship isn’t the only way to build reasonable wealth over time.  Lots of corporate employees do it too.  They do it through investment (of profit sharing, stock options, bonuses, employee stock purchase programs, 401k company matches, etc.) and leverage.  An employee has leverage?  Sure, let’s look at this example:

Let’s say you work at a big box retailer like a Best Buy.  You work at the cash register or stocking shelves.  At this level you’re simply trading your time for money.  You don’t earn much because there is a very low barrier of entry for a stock clerk.  There is no way to leverage your earnings.  You make $10 per hour.

Now let’s say you’re a good employee and have a few promotions over the years and eventually you’re managing one of the departments – say the cell phone department. You’re making $40,000 / yr.  You have leveraged yourself because now you’re getting compensated on the results of the entire department.  A few years later you’re the general manager of the store and make $100,000.  Now you’ve leveraged your earnings again because you’re responsible for the efforts of all of the employees in the entire store.

A few years after that you’re a regional manager responsible for a dozen stores. Now you’re making $200,000.  You’re making the big salary because of leverage and the fact that now you benefit from an extremely high barrier to entry.  There are millions of people who can be trained to stock shelves in a day, but there are not that many people who have the skills and expertise to oversee a dozen large stores with hundreds of employees.

The Public Employee

Public employees have a great opportunity to live the American Dream and build wealth over time.  They do this through (1) higher than average wages and (2) extremely generous benefits unavailable to private sector workers.  Let’s say you’re a police officer or fireman in a big city.  You probably have a pension that’s based on your last few year’s salary.  Work some overtime your last couple of years and you can easily have a six-figure per year pension + free health care for you and your spouse for life. Oh, and you’re retiring before age 50.  The dollar value of these benefits boggles the mind – it’s easily in the $millions for a single worker.  It’s a great deal if you can get it.

Most people realize this, of course, which is why it’s not so easy to get one of these jobs.  In some parts of the country, it’s harder to get a job as a police officer than it is to get into Harvard.  This is no exaggeration. Last year, Harvard had a 6.9% acceptance rate.  My nephew is trying to get a job as a police officer in Connecticut.  For every job opening there are more than 100 applicants.  That’s less than a 1% acceptance rate.  Just think about it.

Canon 1V, Canon 50mm f1.4, Kodak Portra 160NC, develop/scan: RPL,  perfect skin tones straight from the scan with zero corrections.

The Photographer

Okay, thanks for reading this far.  This is the part you’ve been waiting for.  Where does the photographer fit in?

I’m sorry to report that photographers feed at the bottom of the wealth-creation food chain.  Why?

Zero barriers to entry. There is basically a zero barrier to entry to the professional photography business.  No qualifications, schooling, certifications or experience are necessary.  Since most people who become professional already have a camera, a computer and Photoshop (photography was their hobby), there’s a near zero investment in equipment needed.  All it takes is a $50 Bludomain website and you’re good to go.  Education (from sites like this) is free and readily available.  Today’s $700 Nikon D5100 is miles better than the $5,000 Nikon D2X from 4 years ago. Do 2 hours of coaching with me (or someone like me) and you can learn a topic – pricing, for example – that took me years of trial and error to learn.  Is it any surprise that every single day another dozen photographers in your town open up shop?

Zero leverage/scalability. Unless you’re going to open up a chain of employee-run studio photography stores, you have zero leverage.  That is, you are simply trading your time for money, and there is a fixed amount of hours you can work before you run out of time or simply drop dead.  Twenty years ago photographers who shot stock for Getty Images were able to leverage their images (i.e. sell them for decent money over and over again), but that market is basically dead now due to microstock.

Zero equity-building. Unlike the owner of the dry cleaning store who can sell his business and build wealth over time, your photography business builds no equity.  [remember the 70’s sitcom The Jeffersons?  George Jefferson became wealthy by owning a chain of dry cleaning stores].  The typical wedding/portrait shooter (Sally Smith Photography) earns zero income the day she shoots her last wedding.  Nobody out there will buy Sally Smith Photography.  There is nothing to buy.  Her copyrighted library of 200,000 wedding/portrait images has no value, because she’s already sold the images to her only possible customer.  She might be able to sell her gear for a few hundred bucks but that’s it.

Zero benefits. You have to buy all of your own health insurance, for example.  With the cost of family health insurance at $20,000 per year and going up 10-15% per year, this is a huge deal.  Employees of large corporations often have dozens of smaller benefits as well – e.g. life insurance, employee wellness programs, reimbursement for health club memberships, employee discount programs, tax-saver accounts, etc.

I actually can’t think of a worse business than photography.  I honestly can’t.  In fact, if I were teaching an entrepreneurship class at a business school this would make a great exercise:  Have my class think of a business that builds zero equity, had zero scalability and zero barriers to entry.  It would be interesting to see if my class could come up with professional wedding/portrait photography. Knowing what makes a bad business would be very helpful in designing a good business.

The bottom line is this:  from a wealth-creation standpoint, photography is a lousy career.  But you probably already know that.

Olympus OM2n, Zuiko 28mm lens, Kodak Portra400nc, NCPS process and scan, straight-from-the-scan

So what to do?

Don’t give up!  Just because photography is a bad business doesn’t mean it isn’t worthwhile pursuing.  It does have other non-business related benefits (primarily, it satisfies the urge to scratch your creative itch, which has non-monetary value that’s difficult to quantify).  So here are some options:

Option 1:  Curl up into the fetal position and rock back and forth.  When finished, complain to everyone you know about all the newbies entering the market. Look under the seat cushions to scrape up your health insurance premium.  Resume the fetal position and repeat.

Option 2:  Take positive action.

Re-evaluate whether or not to be full-time vs. part-time. I wrote about this topic in my post “for love or money“.   While photography is a lousy career (from a wealth-creation perspective), it can be a GREAT part-time business.  The “low barrier to entry” issue is not a problem for the part-timer. In fact, it’s an advantage. Shoot 10 weddings a year and you can easily bring in $20,000 of extra annual income.  Invest this extra while living on the salary from your day job and you will be on your way to financial independence and lasting wealth.  How many people do you know can save and invest $20,000 per year?

Pick the right spouse. Photography as a full-time business works best when coupled with a spouse who has a solid job (with health insurance).  If your family can live on your spouse’s salary, then you can save/invest nearly all of your photography income.  How great would it be to save and invest $40,000-50,000 per year!

Invest your profits outside of photography. Spend less than you earn. Invest your savings wisely.  Set a specific savings goal for the year.  Do not make a single discretionary (i.e. non-essential) purchase until you’ve socked away that amount into an account earmarked for investing.  Read a lot about investing. This will build your wealth a thousand times more than spending time reading ridiculous online forums where people debate Canon vs. Nikon and display their photos of brick walls.  I don’t care if you choose real estate, stocks, mutual funds or whatever. Become knowledgeable, save and invest. Since your photography business does not build equity, you need to build that equity outside of photography.  Unless you’re a professional sports photographer who needs the ultra-high frame rate, buying a new D3s is NOT an investment, it is luxury, unnecessary spending. The $5,000 D3s will not earn you a single penny more than the $2,500 D700.

Hold on to your cash. Photographers spend way, way, way, way too much money.  If I were hired as a business consultant to a photographer, the first thing that I would look at are their expenditures.  Let’s look at some examples:

Gear: If your camera is less than 3 years old, there is NO NEED to upgrade your cameras. EVER.  Cameras are so good now that you should use them until they wear out.  I am still using my 5 year old 5D and getting stunning images from it.  I could shoot all of my portrait sessions with my $60, 30 year old Olympus OM2n and my clients would be thrilled with the results.

Software: No need to upgrade.  At most, upgrade with every 3rd release.  Do you really need those thousands of fancy features that you’ll never use?

Branding: Branding is one of the most misunderstood topics for wedding/portrait photographers.  YOU are the brand.  Your images.  Your attitude.  How you treat your clients.  Your brand is NOT your logo/letterhead.  There is no reason to spend thousands of dollars on professional graphic design.  Sure, it’s important for large corporations like Pepsi, Apple, and McDonalds to have the recognizable logo. But in order for your logo to establish your brand, you would have to have thousands and thousands of impressions (speaking with my MBA hat on) at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Your name in an attractive font is all you need for a logo.

Advertising: Don’t spend your hard earned cash on magazine ads. They are a waste of money.  Spend a few thousand dollars on a magazine ad and you’ll be lucky to book one wedding from it.  Great, you’re now working that wedding for free.

The most effective ways to generate business and profits are free or nearly free. How much does it cost you to not be an a-hole? How many times have you read a post on online forums like this:  “My contract does not allow clients to use images without my permission, yet I saw they posted some of their wedding images on Facebook without my permission!  How do I get them to cease and desist and/or compensate me for those images?” Are you f_ing kidding me!! Who are you, Annie Leibovitz?  Instead I would thank them for the free advertising.  In fact, on my client’s DVD I include a folder labeled “Facebook” with images perfectly sized for it.  Which approach do you think will better improve your “brand”? And how much does it cost you to pick up the phone and make some sales calls?  You can make more with a single phone call than you can with a $2,500 magazine ad.

Maximize revenue. Since your time is fixed, you have to maximize the revenue from each session.  This is way too big a topic to be covered in a single bullet point or single blog post.  It’s the basis of my entire blog.  Read up on marketing and especially pricing.  Photographers leave way too much money on the table.  They don’t have a recognizable style, which results in average pricing.  They don’t know how to price albums.  Their package design invites nickle-and-dimeing from their clients. They sell online instead of face to face. They don’t know how to price prints.  They don’t do proactive marketing.  How many sales calls did you make this week?  Zero?  Then why are you amazed that your phone isn’t ringing?

Yes, you can be a photographer and still live the American Dream.  But in order to do that you’ll have to recognize the limitations of working at the bottom of the wealth-creation food chain and what to do about it.  Keep your chin up!

Joke of the day.

A store that sells husbands has just opened in Kansas City , where a woman may go to choose a husband. Among the instructions at the entrance is a description of how the store operates.

You may visit the store ONLY ONCE !

There are six floors and the attributes of the men increase as the shopper ascends the flights. There is, however, a catch .. . .. you may choose any man from a particular floor, or you may choose to go up a floor, but
you cannot go back down except to exit the building!

So, a woman goes to the Husband Store to find a husband.

On the first floor the sign on the door reads:

Floor 1 – These men have jobs and love the Lord.

The second floor sign reads:

Floor 2 – These men have jobs, love the Lord, and love kids.

The third floor sign reads:

Floor 3 – These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, and are extremely good looking.

“Wow,” she thinks, but feels compelled to keep going.

She goes to the fourth floor and sign reads:

Floor 4 – These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, are drop- dead good looking and help with the housework.

“Oh, mercy me!” she exclaims, “I can hardly stand it!”
Still, she goes to the fifth floor and sign reads:

Floor 5 – These men have jobs, love the Lord, love kids, are drop- dead gorgeous, help with the housework, and have a strong romantic streak.

She is so tempted to stay, but she goes to the sixth floor and the sign reads:

Floor 6 – You are visitor 4,363,012 to this floor. There are no men on this floor. This floor exists solely as proof that women are impossible to please.. Thank you for shopping at the Husband Store. Watch your step as you exit the building, and have a nice day!

Why does Homeland Security need 1.4 billion rounds of ammunition?

Why does Homeland Security need 1.4 billion rounds of ammunition?  The Department of Homeland Security has purchased 1.4 billion rounds of ammunition- that is not a typo -- during the last six months. This includes 450 million rounds of  .40 hollow point, 200 million rounds of .223 rifle ammunition, and 176,000 rounds of .308 168-grain hollow point boat tail (HPBT) that is used almost exclusively as ammo for sniper rifles.  Why is everyone all up in arms about the recent purchase by Homeland security of 1.4 Billion rounds of ammunition?  Our war in Iraq consumed about 70,000,000 (70 Million) Rounds of Ammunition Each Year, which would take about 20 years to consume 1.4 billion rounds of ammunition ordered by the Department of Homeland Security alone, not including all the ammunition ordered by the weather service, Social Security, etc!  20 Years To Use All 1.4 Billion Rounds Of This Ammo?  Is the Department of Homeland security to protect us from foreign terrorists, or to protect the central government from the American people?  There are 314 million Americans, men, women and children living in the United States this morning. This year alone, DHS has purchased four rounds for each and every American. We don't know how much more ammo the DHS may have accumulated. This enormous DHS stockpile supplements the ammunition already held by the US Armed Forces, the National Guard, hundreds of local and state police departments, plus other Federal law enforcement agencies such as the ATF, Secret Service, FBI, TSA and the US Marshals Service.   Why did DHS purchase 28,000 tons of ammunition?  Why did DHS purchase almost half a billion rounds of hollow point ammunition, banned by the Hague Convention of 1899 for use in international warfare, that is carefully designed to kill it intended targets? Americans have no good answers to these questions since the DHS is now refusing to respond to media inquires on the subject. Pull back the curtain of silence by asking your Congressmen and Senators these questions.  These huge inventories are extremely troubling from the standpoint of a free society.  DHS and other Federal governmental agencies will be much less inclined to ever use this ammunition as long as Americans citizens stand firm in supporting our Second Amendment rights to bear arms. We must never forget that tyrants throughout modern history (Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin and Mao) always disarmed their opponents before rounding them up and sending them to the killing fields.

The Department of Homeland Security has purchased 1.4 billion rounds of ammunition- that is not a typo — during the last six months. This includes 450 million rounds of .40 hollow point, 200 million rounds of .223 rifle ammunition, and 176,000 rounds of .308 168-grain hollow point boat tail (HPBT) that is used almost exclusively as ammo for sniper rifles.

Why is everyone all up in arms about the recent purchase by Homeland security of 1.4 Billion rounds of ammunition?

Our war in Iraq consumed about 70,000,000 (70 Million) Rounds of Ammunition Each Year, which would take about 20 years to consume 1.4 billion rounds of ammunition ordered by the Department of Homeland Security alone, not including all the ammunition ordered by the weather service, Social Security, etc! 20 Years To Use All 1.4 Billion Rounds Of This Ammo?

Is the Department of Homeland security to protect us from foreign terrorists, or to protect the central government from the American people?

There are 314 million Americans, men, women and children living in the United States this morning. This year alone, DHS has purchased four rounds for each and every American. We don’t know how much more ammo the DHS may have accumulated. This enormous DHS stockpile supplements the ammunition already held by the US Armed Forces, the National Guard, hundreds of local and state police departments, plus other Federal law enforcement agencies such as the ATF, Secret Service, FBI, TSA and the US Marshals Service.

Why did DHS purchase 28,000 tons of ammunition? Why did DHS purchase almost half a billion rounds of hollow point ammunition, banned by the Hague Convention of 1899 for use in international warfare, that is carefully designed to kill it intended targets? Americans have no good answers to these questions since the DHS is now refusing to respond to media inquires on the subject. Pull back the curtain of silence by asking your Congressmen and Senators these questions.

These huge inventories are extremely troubling from the standpoint of a free society. DHS and other Federal governmental agencies will be much less inclined to ever use this ammunition as long as Americans citizens stand firm in supporting our Second Amendment rights to bear arms. We must never forget that tyrants throughout modern history (Pol Pot, Hitler, Stalin and Mao) always disarmed their opponents before rounding them up and sending them to the killing fields.

HISTORY OF THE CAR RADIO

Seems like cars have always had radios, not true. Here’s the true story:

One evening, in 1929, two young men named William Lear and Elmer Wavering drove their girlfriends to a lookout point high above the Mississippi River town of Quincy, Illinois, to watch the sunset. It was a romantic night to be sure, but one of the women observed that it would be even nicer if they could listen to music in the car.

Lear and Wavering liked the idea. Both men had tinkered with radios (Lear had served as a radio operator in the U. S. Navy during World War I) and it wasn’t long before they were taking apart a home radio and trying to get it to work in a car. But it wasn’t as easy as it sounds: automobiles have ignition switches, generators, spark plugs, and other electrical equipment that generate noisy static interference, making it nearly impossible to listen to the radio when the engine was running.

One by one, Lear and Wavering identified and eliminated each source of electrical interference. When they finally got their radio to work, they took it to a radio convention in Chicago. There they met Paul Galvin, owner of Galvin Manufacturing Corporation. He made a product called a “battery eliminator” a device that allowed battery-powered radios to run on household AC current. But as more homes were wired for electricity more radio manufacturers made AC-powered radios. Galvin needed a new product to manufacture. When he met Lear and Wavering at the radio convention, he found it. He believed that mass-produced, affordable car radios had the potential to become a huge business.

Lear and Wavering set up shop in Galvin’s factory, and when they perfected their first radio, they installed it in his Studebaker. Then Galvin went to a local banker to apply for a loan. Thinking it might sweeten the deal, he had his men install a radio in the banker’s Packard. Good idea, but it didn’t work — Half an hour after the installation, the banker’s Packard caught on fire. (They didn’t get the loan.) Galvin didn’t give up. He drove his Studebaker nearly 800 miles to Atlantic City to show off the radio at the 1930 Radio Manufacturers Association convention.

Too broke to afford a booth, he parked the car outside the convention hall and cranked up the radio so that passing conventioneers could hear it. That idea worked — He got enough orders to put the radio into production.

WHAT’S IN A NAME

That first production model was called the 5T71. Galvin decided he needed to come up with something a little catchier. In those days many companies in the phonograph and radio businesses used the suffix “ola” for their names – Radiola, Columbiola, and Victrola were three of the biggest. Galvin decided to do the same thing, and since his radio was intended for use in a motor vehicle, he decided to call it the Motorola. But even with the name change, the radio still had problems: When Motorola went on sale in 1930, it cost about $110 uninstalled, at a time when you could buy a brand-new car for $650, and the country was sliding into the Great Depression. (By that measure, a radio for a new car would cost about $3,000 today.) In 1930 it took two men several days to put in a carradio — The dashboard had to be taken apart so that the receiver and a single speaker could be installed, and the ceiling had to be cut open to install the antenna. These early radios ran on their own batteries, not on the car battery, so holes had to be cut into the floorboard to accommodate them.

The installation manual had eight complete diagrams and 28 pages of instructions.

Selling complicated car radios that cost 20 percent of the price of a brand-new car wouldn’t have been easy in the best of times, let alone during the Great Depression —

Galvin lost money in 1930 and struggled for a couple of years after that. But things picked up in 1933 when Ford began offering Motorola’s pre-installed at the factory. In 1934 they got another boost when Galvin struck a deal with B. F. Goodrich tire company to sell and install them in its chain of tire stores. By then the price of the radio, installation included, had dropped to $55. The Motorola car radio was off and running. (The name of the company would be officially changed from Galvin Manufacturing to “Motorola” in 1947.)

In the meantime, Galvin continued to develop new uses for car radios. In 1936, the same year that it introduced push-button tuning, it also introduced the Motorola Police Cruiser, a standard car radio that was factory preset to a single frequency to pick up police broadcasts. In 1940 he developed with the first handheld two-way radio — The Handie-Talkie — for the U. S. Army.

A lot of the communications technologies that we take for granted today were born in Motorola labs in the years that followed World War II. In 1947 they came out with the first television to sell under $200. In 1956 the company introduced the world’s first pager; in 1969 it supplied the radio and television equipment that was used to televise Neil Armstrong’s first steps on the Moon. In 1973 it invented the world’s first handheld cellular phone. Today Motorola is one of the largest cell phone manufacturer in the world — And it all started with the car radio.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO The two men who installed the first radio in Paul Galvin’s car, Elmer Wavering and William Lear, ended up taking very different paths in life. Wavering stayed with Motorola. In the 1950’s he helped change the automobile experience again when he developed the first automotive alternator, replacing inefficient and unreliable generators. The invention lead to such luxuries as power windows, power seats, and, eventually, air-conditioning.

Lear also continued inventing. He holds more than 150 patents. Remember eight-track tape players? Lear invented that. But what he’s really famous for are his contributions to the field of aviation. He invented radio direction finders for planes, aided in the invention of the autopilot, designed the first fully automatic aircraft landing system, and in 1963 introduced his most famous invention of all, the Lear Jet, the world’s first mass-produced, affordable business jet. (Not bad for a guy who dropped out of school after the eighth grade.)

Sometimes it is fun to find out how some of the many things that we take for granted actually came into being! and It all started with a woman’s suggestion!

What Would Life Be Like Without Electricity?

Humanity has survived many evolutionary stages in its long history on this planet. Two discoveries, in particular, have shaped the future of our race like no other: gunpowder and electricity. The former has certainly been the cause for many tragedies, while the latter has usually helped push the human race forward. Together, the two have made wars even more destructive. But consider if electricity were to one day disappear without warning. No power for your gadgets might be the most immediate concern that comes to mind, but the larger problem would be further-reaching when you consider that our modern world has been completely built around our dependence on electricity.

In science fiction, many scenarios have been imagined to illustrate the dystopian future that would result if our society were cut off from the conveniences that we take for granted. Electricity is, perhaps, the beating heart of our industrious civilization; without it, our cities would likely crumble in the ensuing chaos. This is the scenario that’s played out in the new series Revolution, which is set 15 years after a global blackout of a yet-unknown cause.

It’s a fascinating idea to ponder the implications of no longer having access to all of our amenities. We would have to relearn how to cook, wash, transport, entertain, and simply live without all of the devices that we use every day. It would be the feudal ages all over again. And without electricity, medical treatment would become equally medieval. This is something that many would not be prepared for.

It may be cliché to mention Darwin, but a world like this would put the concept of survival of the fittest to the ultimate test. Your lovely neighbor could become your fiercest competition for food. Hunting would be a most welcome and essential skill if humanity should have to survive in a world without electricity. Do you know how to shoot and kill game with a bow and arrow?

In such a scenario, even our aspirations to further develop clean energy would be futile, as such efforts focus on converting alternative energy into electricity. And with a vanishing digital infrastructure, the loss of telephones and the Internet would force generations weaned on access to instant information to communicate face to face. Millions would be helpless, clueless, and left seeking leadership to organize the chaos. This is when both the best and worst in the human soul emerges. Capable leaders would doubtless emerge with the noble intention to serve the masses, but what happens when the self-serving and power-hungry who have the charisma to manipulate others are able to convince people that they’re the leadership that’s being sought?

The answer to the titular question deals not with the consequences of no longer being able to google something, but rather how it would change human nature. That’s the philosophical dilemma herein: the urge for survival in one corner, and the cost of survival in the other. Whenever we lack an essential commodity, we must question its actual necessity. As in the series Revolution, items that we considered crucial before quickly lose practical value. Yet the emotional valuation never degrades.

What would life be like without electricity? Seeking an answer is not so much a technicality as it is a philosophical assessment of the human race. Great feats have been accomplished with no electricity. Our civilization, which doesn’t include some indigenous tribes in the lost corners of the world, depends on electricity for innovation. As mentioned earlier, the medical industry would collapse without electricity. Many illnesses once extinct might return with a vengeance as vaccine stocks would deplete quickly. Even extreme rationing wouldn’t slow down the inevitable by much.

It sounds like a dream come true for science fiction writers.

 

 

 

 

For my part, I find Revolution to be a rather mediocre adventure story in a post-apocalyptic setting with a premise that suffers from being more interesting than its execution. However, there’s hope that further revelation of the secret cause for the blackout will instill a much-needed sense of wonder. If you were a fan of LOST, then you should find some love for Revolution.