Never Stop Learning

I’m going to have a busy 2019. Between listening to all of the books I want to on my Audible list, I’m adding Master Class to my daily routines. There are just so many areas of interest I want to know more about: book writing, chess, film directing, fashion, and comedy.

MasterClass, an app on your smartphone, offers online education. You can access tutorials and lectures pre-recorded by very well known experts in various fields. Some of the biggest names in the business are teachers.

Years ago these notables never would have considered teaching courses like this, but then it became totally acceptable. You really should take advantage of this opportunity. The best thing about these courses is that they give you insight into the area you are most interested in. Then you can decide if you want to delve further with other online courses, or adult education classes.

The idea is too keep your mind active.

We are living in a time when these opportunities are available to us. Let’s not take them for granted.

Happy New Year to you and your loved ones!

Podcasts Are Turning Into Movies And TV Shows

I’m not sure you are aware of it, but many of the new TV shows you are watching were derived from podcasts. A podcast is a digital recording of music or the spoken word downloaded from the Internet to a portable player. The term originated from P.O.D meaning Portable On Demand and cast relating to the term broadcast.

This is a whole new resource for material for the small (TV) and large screen (movies). This is going to be interesting in the years ahead. Your child, your grandchild, or your neighbor next door, who has been producing a podcast, can easily become the next big star in Hollywood.

Some of the new shows are:


Alex, Inc.

2 Dope Queens

The Read

Streaming Now

Throwing Shade


Comedy Bang! Bang!

Be sure to watch the video for a full explanation.

Eliot has been shredding paper for days now. Another trip to the incinerator. Thank goodness for digital files.

A Letter From An Old Friend

Walter Salm

The following letter comes from a gentlemen I used to share an office with over 40 years ago. We were exact opposites. He was a serious technical writer and I was a chatty news reporter. I usually get an annual holiday letter from Walter just around Christmas time. In recent years his letters are delivered by email.

This year his letter talks about some of the most devastating challenges facing many Americans today. I asked him if I can share the letter with you because I want everyone to remember the difficulties many people are facing everyday. He gave me his approval.

Chico, CA, December 2018

To all of our friends and family:

Two events have overshadowed our lives as the year draws to a close: My wife. B.J. , fell and broke her right femur near the hip on Oct. 25; and on Nov. 7, the horrific Camp wildfire burned most of the city of Paradise and part of Magalia to the ground. We have both friends and family who lost everything to the blaze, and are now living in temporary quarters: shelters, trailers and RVs (frequently borrowed) and other peoples’ homes. The city of Chico is bursting at the seams housing and hosting many thousands of fire victims. Now that the fire is out, most of the nearly 7,000 firefighters have left along with their hundreds of fire engines. They established a containment line, stopping the advance of the fire only two miles from our house. The air was thick with unhealthy smoke for nearly a month, and filter masks were necessary when venturing outdoors. We no longer see dozens of fire trucks parked cheek by jowl in the vacant lot next to Costco. Our daughter Lenna lives in a part of Oroville that was under threat and evacuated with her two dogs to David’s house in Meridian. She’s back home now. The fire did not reach her house.

Chico’s population jumped from 110,000 to about 150,000 with many, many fire refugees living in emergency shelters, or with family or friends, or in trailers and RVs, some RVs rescued from the fire, others borrowed. Housing was already in short supply in Chico before the fire. There had been six or seven mobile homes for sale in our mobile home park, and they have all been snapped up. Parking lots everywhere are full, the traffic has become brutal, and many parking lots contain numerous RVs. There are still people camping in tents in spite of the rainy and cold winter weather in the large vacant lot next to WalMart. They are learning some basic survival skills from Chico’s approximate 2,000 homeless, who are quite willing to share their knowledge. There isn’t a single empty hotel room in Chico and surrounding communities. Our oldest granddaughter Paige and her husband Tyler, lost everything and are now living in a borrowed trailer in her father Phil’s back yard. Andy’s mother, Theresa, was burned out and is now staying in Andy’s house in Chico. We met Paige’s next-door neighbors, a young couple with three children who had also been burned out and are now rebuilding their lives in Roseville (near Sacramento). I met them at a Black Friday get-together and dinner at son-in-law Brad Pierce’s house.

A Red Cross shelter has been set up in the vacant Toys R Us store; the empty Sears store has become headquarters for FEMA and dozens of booths for insurance companies, realtors, etc. Parking there is at a premium. The East Avenue Church has set up a large, comprehensive shelter with lots of volunteer services available. This has also happened at St. John’s Episcopal Church, which has absorbed the burned out St. Nicholas Church in Paradise. A new shelter has been established at Chico’s Silver Dollar Fairgrounds (next to Costco) which had been used as the staging area for all of the thousands of firefighters.

B.J. missed most of the excitement, residing in the comfort of Enloe Hospital’s Rehab Center, after having her broken limb treated with an implanted titanium rod. Chico’s 300-bed Enloe Hospital absorbed many patients from the hurriedly evacuated and burned out 100-bed Feather River Hospital in Paradise. Other patients were sent to the hospital in Oroville. Some of the overflow was pushed into the Enloe Rehab Center, where B.J. was a patient until November 29, when she finally came home. She is learning to get around with a 2-wheel walker, but still has trouble mounting the 4 stairs up to our house. She has lost even more weight and we’re trying to fatten her up now. I keep offering to give her some of my excess poundage, but so far have not been able to work out a transfer.

Before the fire happened, our three granddaughters, Paige, her sister Jazmin, and their cousin Letty all came to visit B.J. at the rehab center. Paige and Letty have both had their stomachs removed because of the mutated CDH1 gene. Jazmin had received the incredibly good news that she does not have the bad gene. Grandson Atty was home for a week or so on leave from his duties as a U.S. Marine. He visited B.J. twice and was at the Black Friday family fest. He has since returned to North Carolina pending deployment. His wife Lindsey, also at the family get-together, is pregnant and will present us with a great-grandson next Spring.

Finally, I have been busily working on writing my memoir, calling it “Half-Life” since it only covers my first 44 years at which point I married B.J. The other half-life is another book, which I have already partly written. All this is possible because I am now fully retired. Here is a quote from my Author’s Preface:

“I have one primary discomfort today — a fear that an old man’s failing memory will rob me of the ability to retell these many minor adventures. I am periodically reminded of my age when I reach for a specific word and cannot remember it, even though I can picture its precise meaning. I am a wordsmith; I should remember it, but I don’t. I do all the typical things joked about by old timers — walking into another room and then forgetting why I am there; getting into the car to run errands forgetting all my necessaries: my partial dentures, keys, wallet, cell phone, shopping list, Nook book, the correct glasses, wrist watch. Each one of these may require a special trip back into the house, since I seem to remember only one at a time. Yet I marvel and comment to friends that I still have three or four brain cells that are connected and functioning.”

Here’s to a New Year filled with recovery and hope, and remember to give your special someone a good hug and remind them how much they are loved.

Walter and Elizabeth (B.J.) Salm

Music Connects People Of All Ages

Did you know that Michelle Obama’s maternal grandfather was an audiophile?

In the early chapters of “Becoming” by Michelle Obama, I found out that he wired the house, in the south side of Chicago, from top to bottom, for music. “He put speakers in every room, including the bathroom. In the dining room, he built an elaborate cabinet system to hold his stereo equipment, much of it scavenged at yard sales. He had two mismatched turntables plus a rickety old reel-to-reel tape player and shelves packed with records he’d collected over many years.”

Everyone in the family had to talk loudly over whatever he put on the stereo, because the music always dominated. Michelle’s family celebrated most major life events at his house which meant that over the years they unwrapped Christmas presents to Ella Fitzgerald and blew out birthday candles to Coltrane.

“According to my mother, as a younger man he made a point of pumping jazz into his seven children, often. He would wake everyone at sunrise by playing one of his records at full blast. His love for music was infectious. I’d pass whole afternoons at his house, pulling albums from the shelf at random and putting them on his stereo, each one its own immersing adventure. Even though I was small, he put no restrictions on what I could touch. He’d later buy me my first album, Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book, which I’d keep at his house on a special shelf he designated for my favorite records.”

Today Is Your Lucky Day

You may turn out to be the coolest person at your holiday gathering this year. You are about to hear an explanation of what “mixed reality” is in the simplest of terms. This is a work assignment for my client, Viewpointsystem in Vienna, Austria. Nils Berger, CEO of Viewpoint, does all the talking. I will be releasing this to the press next week. You are getting an exclusive preview.

When some of the young folks around your holiday table hear you explain this newest advancement in the world of technology, they are going to be very impressed. Instead of creating a long video filled with tons of information that you soon will forget, we produced six short segments that answer specific questions.

I copied this video format from my friend Ray Elman who produces the most fabulous interviews for his art magazine called Inspicio, a Florida University Magazine. Let me know how you like this Q and A technique, and if you learned anything.

What is the premise behind Viewpointsystem the VPS 19?

What is the VPS 19 and what does it do?

Explain three different applications for the VPS 19

Who do you think will be the first adopters and why?

How do you see the future of Mixed Reality?

What are the next generation products?

Diving For Dirt

I have always wondered why someone would throw their garbage in a river, a lake, a bay, or an ocean? When Eliot and I took a cruise down the Siene last Spring, I was so disappointed to see how polluted the water was. I would lie in bed and stare out at the sides of the river that were filled with plastic bags stuck in the shrubs. There were thousands of them for miles and miles. I just couldn’t believe this was the same Siene that was portrayed in so many romantic movies.

Unfortunately, most of the waters around the world are filled with trash. I just don’t know how we allowed this to happen. Not everyone is going to let this continue. Kathryn Mikesell, the woman who owns Fountainhead, the artist residency Eliot and I belong to, is a member of The Dolphins and Rainbows swim club, that actually removes trash from Biscayne Bay in Miami everyday.

Their story is remarkable and one to be admired. The local NBC news did s story about how this group dives for trash and what they are willing to do to keep the waters clean. While the rest of us are reading the morning papers, and sipping our coffees, this swim club group is hard at work. Bless them.

A New Cancer Treatment

This is an unusual DigiDame post, but one that I wanted to do for a few weeks. Lester Holt, host of NBC Nightly News, was one of many newscasters around the country, who announced a new cancer drug that attacks the DNA of a tumor rather than the location in the body.

This is supposed to be a major breakthrough in the successful treatment of cancer. I listened to this announcement with great hope that many more people can be cured forever because of this major breakthrough.

I recorded the segment to share this with you. What startled me the most was that a doctor friend initiated a conversation with me about this new drug because he was depending on it to cure a loved one.

That was the first time in my life that I felt like an insider in the world of medical innovation. It was a big wow moment. If this cancer drug does the trick, then I was there at the beginning. I wanted you to experience this too.

Good luck and best wishes for a cure.