More photos of the Eldon Rover

A couple of weeks back I posted about an old Land Rover (spotted by one of my coffee shop buds) wasting away in Eldon, MO, a small town about 30 miles southwest of Jefferson City. Since then another coffee shop pal purchased the the truck and it’s now sitting in the garage of another coffee shop friend who has the task of bringing the truck back to life.

She needs some work but that’s a good thing. This is the exact year and model as my truck, right down to the 2.25 litre diesel engine. As pal #3 (a talented mechanic) works his magic, I’m hoping to watch (quietly) from a corner of the garage. (I assume I’ll have to pay for the privilege)

There has also been some question as to whether my truck would fit through my garage door. I kept hearing different measurements from the guys in San Diego. This is important because we don’t want a diesel engine sitting outside during mid-Missouri winters. I now know it will pass easily into my garage (84 in clearance).

My truck scheduled to be transported from SoCal to NoCal this week.

Eldon Land Rover

One of my coffee shop pals reported seeing an old Land Rover on the outskirts of Eldon, a small town about 30 miles south of Jefferson City. So I hopped in the car and drove down to see if I could find it.

The owner was a gentleman who passed away a month or so back. I introduced myself to a young man (a grandson?) who was getting things ready for an estate sale. I asked if I could take a look (and some photos) of the Land Rover. No problem. He said the owner (who was in his 80s when he died) bought the truck new. And small world that it is, it’s a 1979 Series III. Same year and model as mine.

The young man said there was a fender in the building, to replace the damaged one above.

The tub was filled with parts, old manuals, etc.

The old girl looked pretty rough. Someone with more knowledge and experience than me would know if this could be restored and what that might take. He said prior to the old man’s death, he had an offer of $2,500.

It’s the sudden stop

We live a couple miles outside of Jefferson City (MO) on a “no exit” road. This morning someone drove into a utility pole, cutting off access to/from homes. Whole bunch of folks couldn’t get to work… or back to their homes. The people in the house across the road from the accident have a drive that circles around behind their house and back out to the road. They volunteered (or the responders asked) to let folks use their property to get around and out. Good neighbors.

Allen Hammock Interview

In 1995 CompuServe, America Online and Prodigy started providing dial-up Internet access and people started getting online. In April some tech folks from the University of Missouri came to our offices in Jefferson City and gave us a demo of the “World Wide Web” and our first look at Netscape Navigator. I can’t speak for the others in the meeting but I was mightily impressed.

I knew a bit about the Internet but nothing about how to create a website or register a domain, so I contacted Mike McKean, a professor at the J-School at the University of Missouri, and asked if he could put me in touch with a student who knew how to do this stuff. He introduced me to Dan Arnall, a senior journalism major. Dan was technically adept but he brought along Allen Hammock who was majoring in computer science. Dan and Allen were high school classmates in Springfield, Missouri, and were in members of a student leadership organization at Mizzou.

In this 12 minute interview, Allen shares some of his recollections of the exciting three years that followed.

Wire Service

I recall visiting the radio station where my father worked and standing in front of the Associated Press teletype, entranced by the endless stream of words. Who was typing? Where were they? Did they ever stop?

Years later, as a young man, I got a job at the station and came to depend on the AP “wire.” It was our only link to real-time (I’m not sure that phrase even existed in 1972) news and information from outside our little town. The daily newspaper was tossed on the doorstep every afternoon (or you could get the Memphis paper a day late). The three national TV networks gave us a half-hour of national news each evening.

Our radio station didn’t have a national news network (until 1974) so we relied on the Associated Press newswire for just about everything throughout the day. During a live “board shift” we would dash to the AP teletype (in the transmitter room) and “rip the wire” which involved tearing a long strip of printed wire copy into piles of news, weather, sports, entertainment news, etc. If the paper jammed or the ribbon broke, we missed whatever was fed. If something the AP considered urgent was fed, an alarm bell on the teletype sounded.

A radio station had to have a wire service. Without it they were limited to playing records and reading local news and school lunch menus. The AP knew this and charged accordingly. Thousands of dollars a year. Contracts were for five years. But there was no alternative.

In 1984 I left the radio station to take a job managing The Missourinet, a statewide news network originating from Jefferson City, Missouri. I worked for (parent company) Learfield Communications for the next 28 years. One of the more interesting projects I worked on was the creation of a low-cost alternative to the Associated Press. We called it Learfield Data (later, Learfield Newswire).

I worked on this (along with bunch of other people) for a dozen years from the late ’80s through 2000. At one time we had 300 subscribers. When the World Wide Web became a reality in the mid-90s it was clear the days of wire services were numbered. Road kill on the Information Highway. You can read the story of how it began and ended here.

Timeline of computer stuff

I’ve got a thing about calendars. That’s not quite right. I’ve got a thing about remembering knowing when things happened and I’m really bad at remembering stuff. Even important stuff. So I kept a journal for a while and when DayTimers came along I kept one with me all the time for meetings and notes and all the rest. I think I mentioned my DayTimer purge. These days Google Calendar is my tool-of-choice for keeping up with everything. With links to Google Drive. I came across the computer related list below while working on another project.

  • 1985 – First computer. Zenith with two 7.5 in floppy drives (no HD)
  • 1/6/89 – Jefferson City Computer Club meeting
  • 10/31/89 – Bought computer made by CompuAdd?
  • 12/6/89 – Rick Williams, MSC, Columbia, MO (1st ref?)
  • 4/21/92 – Purchased computer for $3,525.86. 33/386 4 meg; 101/VGA Samsung; 16 SCSI controller
  • 11/16/93 – Computer Concepts demo (?)
  • 11/16/92 – Switched to AmiPro (word processor/desktop publishing) on office computer
  • 6/20/94 – First “notebook” computer; purchased from Bill Bahr (Iowa) for $1700. Made by Toshiba. Base price: $1400; Fax/modem PCMCIA card: $300
  • 11/21/94 – MCI Internet service – $49.95 for software; $19.95/mo – 7 hours free; $3.00 per hour after that. 9600 baud/14400
  • 12/1/95 – Gateway 2000 computer, $3,100
  • 4/24/95 – Comdex, Atlanta, GA
  • 5/8/95 – New ISP (Internet Service Provider). Summit Information Services, Holts Summit, MO. $30/mo
  • 6/3/96 – Comdex, Las Vegas NV
  • 6/10/96 – Ordered IBM ThinkPad
  • 8/23/96 – Ordered ACT 3.0 (contact manager)
  • 4/20/98 – Comdex, Chicago, IL
  • 4/19/99 – Comdex, Las Vegas, NV
  • 7/1/99 – Shut down Straylight
  • 4/21/04 – Signed up for Gmail
  • 5/7/04 – First home wifi
  • 4/17/06 – First MacBook
  • 1/6/11 – Bought Google and Apple stock. 35 shares Google @ $569; 54 shares of Apple @ $368.03. Our investment guys talked us into selling some. “Too heavy in tech”
  • 6/15/11 – Google sent me a Chromebook to evaluate. Sent two for some reason.
  • 10/28/11 – Closed PayPal account
  • 6/15/12 – MacBook Pro delivered

Struggling and Hungry

I’ve really never been either so I’m talking about something here with which I have no first-hand experience. No points to make here, just thinking out loud.

In the last week I have seen three men, standing at intersections, holding cardboard signs that read: Struggling and Hungry. Two of these were in Columbia, MO (within a quarter mile of each other) and the third here in Jefferson City, MO. I’ll come back to the signs in a minute.

First, what do we call what these men were doing? “Begging” seems demeaning but “panhandling” seems euphemistic. “Homeless” seems to be the accepted term but we don’t know if the person has a home or not. But let’s go with homeless.

Second question: On what basis does someone decide to give/not give money to a homeless person? Physical appearance? Do they look hungry? Something in their expression or dress? Their body language? Do they have a dog? The answer is different for everyone of course and can change from encounter to encounter.

Is a homeless person aware of such considerations? Do they smile and make eye contact with motorists or have they found that to be a turn-off? Or a positive? Did they consciously bring their dog because they know dog lovers will be moved by the sight of the pooch? Have they learned that walking down the line of cars at a stop light can appear “pushy?”

Or perhaps by the time someone finds themselves on the side of highway holding a sign such calculations have given way to desperation. The answer is probably “all of the above.” Some are undoubtedly lazy and could get a job and some are at the end of their rope.

Back to the signs.

Do some signs work better than others? Would clean, printed sign say this person is just looking for a hand-out, while a ragged piece of cardboard with a scrawled plea touch a heart? And what about the “Struggling and Hungry” wording? Just coincidence? Or did someone discover (trial and error?) that phrase worked better than “Please help?” And is there any communication between sign-makers? Standing in line at McD’s perhaps? Do the homeless have smartphones and would that automatically kill a generous impulse? Should it?

I usually give if I can do so without endangering the person by making them dash between cars to get to my lane. And, yes, I usually give if there’s a dog (“Buy some food for the pup”). And I’m turned off when I see two people working an intersection. Do they see this a boring job and it’s better to have a pal to pass the time?

During the early days of what we then called the “World Wide Web,” there was a mood of “digital entrepreneurism.” Anybody with a minimum of technical skills could create a website. Later, when blogs became a thing, it got even easier. You could start your own newspaper or magazine or — when the bandwidth got better and the tools easier — audio and video. Anyone could create their own “content” and do so for fun or profit. That was the dream and a few made it a reality.

One of those was my friend David Brazeal. David grew up in Republic, Missouri, a small town just outside of Springfield in the southwest corner of the state. He earned a degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and then reported news at a radio station in Jefferson City, MO.

That’s where I met him and then worked with him at Learfield Communications. David started in the newsroom but migrated to some of Learfield’s early, digital businesses. He was very good at what he did but eventually grew restless and longed to strike out on his own. His idea was to create a website that covered high school sports in his hometown.

With his wife’s blessing, he quit his very good job at a very good company and started in 2009. David has defied the odds and made his “micro-site” a critical and financial success. I think it’s safe to say he covers high schools sports in Republic better than any traditional media outlook could or would. The town does not have a radio or TV station but does have a weekly newspaper.

I don’t think I could begin to describe the breadth and depth of the content on his site. If you are even remotely interested in what he’s doing, spend 10 or 15 minutes on the website. If you’re still interested, you might enjoy listening to the interview below. Runs about 35 minutes.

Jefferson City: 1920’s

The two photos below are hanging (with 8 or 10 others) on the wall of a little cafe in Jefferson City, MO. I’ve noticed them before and recall thinking I’d like to scan them but they’re framed and (probably) bolted to the wall. This morning I remembered the PhotoScan app I recently added decided to give it a try. No bad. No glare from the glass. I’ll get some more when the place is less busy.

High Street is where the Coffee Zone is located (not on the block shown). The interior shot is the cafe.

Prison Radio

This might be an over-simplification but Prison Radio appears to be short (2-3 minutes) recordings made by prison inmates. I’m assuming these are made from phone calls the prisoners are allowed to make. That’s make take on the what, your guess is as good as mine on the ‘why’ but I’m assuming the idea is to give a voice to the incarcerated.

One of the prisoners recording these commentaries is James Keown. Mr. Keown is from Jefferson City, MO, the town where I live. In 2008 he was convicted of murder for poisoning his wife with Gatorade spiked with antifreeze. He’s serving a life prison sentence in Massachusetts.

In one of his three commentaries (Who Are You?) he describes being on the air at one of our local radio stations when, during a commercial break, he was arrested. I briefly met Keown a couple of times but didn’t know him.

I find these commentaries bizarre in a way I can’t quite put into words. Perhaps it’s the distinctive “announcer voice” Keown uses when making the recordings.

UPDATE (1/9/18): Keown has stopped updating his Prison Radio page. Just those three posts back in 2016. His appeal to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court was rejected on October 23, 2017.