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A Conversation With Don Ward
Last summer we sat down and talked for a couple hours in Bakersfield.
It was an interesting experience for me and I think he enjoyed the conversation as well.
Topics included his childhood, attending North High School (first graduating class), people he knew growing up (surprises here), Stanford University, the US Marines, the 1959 champion Renegade football team, football at Nevada Reno (abbreviated career), his first coaching/teaching job (it was not at South), how he returned to Bakersfield, coaching at SHS (three decades), and his school career after coaching. Probably a few other things, as well. As usual, I offer my own opinions and recollections along the way. Can't help it.
After I had written the story I researched and found several photos that he probably has not seen in a very long time, if ever.
Don Ward is associated with South High School more than any other teacher/coach in the school's 63 year history.
Please read all about it HERE.
This Week in the 1968 Bakersfield Californian
We are including the papers from Feb 1 - Feb 10. So take your time and check out what happened.
The Vietnam war is really heating up.
Also, lots of local sports news, some good, some bad.
First, this stunning photo was important because it had a major impact on how Americans viewed the war. It is probably the most significant photo of the entire conflict. It happened on February 1, 1968.
Jerry West was still a star then. Lennie Wilkins is on the left.
Good ole' Mark Trail.
Upbeat story about our wrestlers.
Major fighting in Hue, which is close to the border of North and South Vietnam. I did not realize this simple bit of geography until years later, after watching documentaries on that war.
Good news about the Rebel basketball team, for a change. I was the last guy off the bench but I still scored 10 points. Henderson was mad at me for participating in the All County Orchestra and missing a game the week before. I was also the only Music major in our class. I still play music but haven't played basketball in 15 years, since I ruptured my achilles. That whole (half) season was an odd one for me.
Wrestlers continue to excell. Not many showed up for our 50th reunion, unfortunately.
Much fighting during the still un-named, Tet Offensive.
Ray McGill graduated from South High and had a good career at BC. Though undersized, he was an incredible leaper and a decent shot maker from close in. Also, a fine person. I played on the varsity with him my sophomore year. Bob Burson and I were the only sophs on that team. My brother, Jerry, also played for the Rebs that year. As I recall, Dan Mangum was the big scorer on the team -- had a nice jumper that was difficult to block. McGill also was a track star for the Rebs.
Andy Hill was a terrific high school and college player. I believe he went to a small school in Santa Barbara to finish out his college career. Was that Westmount? Along with Freddie Boyd, and others, EB was almost impossible to beat.
Go HERE to read all the papers in early February, 1968. The scans are better this time, too.
How To Build a Software App That Won’t Crash
The UI is the User Interface. The Back End is the database server, which is the central repository of all the data generated by the UI. The Communication lines are telephone lines, cell phone towers, cable networks, satellites or whatever.
The UI consists of buttons, text boxes, and whatever it takes to gather information from the user. If you are on a PC you will probably navigate around the app with a mouse. On an iPad or cell phone, you move around with the touch of your finger.
To build an effective UI you must work with Subject Matter Experts (SMEs). SMEs are people who completely understand what the app is supposed to accomplish in the real world. It is the responsibility of the app developer to create an app that fits the needs of the SMEs. As the app is being developed, the developers engage with the SMEs to make sure they are meeting those basic requirements.
But before any code is written, and to ensure that the design of the software meets the user requirements, a document called a Functional Specification is written by the development team. This is a paper version of what the developers think the SMEs want. This spec includes written requirements as well as “pictures” of what the app will likely look like to the user. The basic idea is that it is cheaper and more productive to make changes on paper rather than in software code. When both sides have “signed off” on the functional spec, a detailed software design can be created so that the development team has an overall plan to follow. The detailed plan will also include a timeline for the project which will have important “milestones” along the way.
Though I have written many hundreds of thousands of lines of code, it was as a Program Manager (PM) that I did most of my significant work for big software companies. The PM “owns” the functional spec. He is responsible for communicating with both users and developers and making sure that all are in agreement. He needs to understand software development and also be able to communicate with average users in order to comprehend what they want and need to get their jobs done.
But there is much more. Good software doesn’t just randomly happen all by itself.
What about testing? If you are developing a small app (say, less than 10,000 lines of code), you may be able to get by with being very careful and testing your software by yourself — if you are a smart developer and the stakes are not too high for failure. But if the program (app) is more complex and involves a team of developers, then you must have a separate testing team.
The purpose of the testers is to try to “break the app”. Their mission is to find everything that can possibly go wrong with your app. They test every combination of buttons and other controls on your User Interface (UI). They break communication lines to see how the app behaves under stress. They slam the backend server with as much traffic as they can to find the limits of the system. They make sure that the database system is storing the data correctly and that accurate reports can be generated.
It is obvious that the Iowa caucus development team did not do this. Or is it?
This is all “known” science. We in the software industry know and understand how to build well-behaved, bullet proof, and useful software systems.
So how did the democrat dev team manage to screw up the Iowa caucuses? Especially when the whole world is watching? For that matter (we may as well ask), how did the democrats screw up the Obamacare website rollout a few years ago? How is that even possible, given all that we know about software development?
Here are a few possibilities:
What actually happened? Who knows? They will never tell us. It could be any combination of flaws listed above. Or it could have been 2 or 3 lines of code that screwed everything up. We will never know.
Then there is the leading conspiracy theory. What if the results were not going in the direction the developers (or “insiders”) wanted, so they made it impossible to provide actual results in a timely manner? This would rob the winner(s) of an opportunity to announce their “big victory” in Iowa and thus deny them the “big bounce” going into New Hampshire!
Does this sound far-fetched? Have you been watching the impeachment proceedings for the last several weeks?
Who Will Be the Democratic Nominee?
Whether you are a republican, democrat, or independent, we want to know who you think the democratic nominee will be after all the voting is done.
That's right. You get to tell us who you think will win the nomination at the convention this year.
Note that we are not asking who you will vote for. This is just your opinion on who you think the final winner will be.
Our group of 70 year olds here at www.SouthHigh68.com is just as valid as any other in the US. Place your bets! Let's see how accurate we are!
Results are anonymous, of course.
Continue With the 1968 Bakersfield Californian?
For the last 20 days or so I've included a daily feature that let you read what was in the paper on this day, 52 years ago (1968).
Most of the work, which included going to the library and scanning microfilm pages, had already been done in 2018.
However, it takes me about 20 minutes to make the daily pages available on the website. An announcement needs to be made, the link to the page needs to be inserted, and possibly an email is composed and sent out.
As I have stated, the daily internet traffic on the site doubles or triples when these old newspaper stories are made available to you.
My question to you is simple: is it worth my extra effort to do this on a daily basis? I really don't like doing things that are of limited value. We are all running a bit short of time at this point.
Please take the survey to help guide me in this process.
Allow Others to Join www.SouthHigh68.com?
I get requests from those outside of our class every once in awhile.
In fact, I've already included several in the past.
But we need a "policy". A consistent rule that we can follow.
First of all, they would not be part of the actual class roster. They would be officially known as "Guest Members".
Note that we have a number of these types of users -- you can view them at the bottom of our class list.
What could they do as a Guest Member? They get to see all the "privileged" content, you know, the stuff that you need to login to see. They could see your public profile (but NOT your private personal information). They could take part in surveys and participate in the What's New area. They would likely be people from other South High classes.
In short, Guest Members can do anything you can do.
Just thinking ahead, my guess is that the guests could also participate in 10-10-2020, but that has yet to be discussed. We don't know if that event will consist of me, Gary, Vicki, Jerry, Hud, and Ruben in a big room all by ourselves or if there will be 180 showing up! Maybe we will get Wal Topic to blow into town from Florida, too. I think that we have already established a precedent: Pam Bailey was a participant in 2018.
But there is the potential downside, too. Should we water down our "exclusivity" that we enjoy now? Keep it "special"? Or is "more the merrier" the proper way to look at it?
Here's a typical request:
Hi Jim - although I'm not technically part of your graduating class (I was a 'XX graduate) I've been keeping up with your website because there were many folks I was friends with in your class. I don't know if you allow non-'68's to join your website but I would love the opportunity if it exists. You have done an excellent job here and I so wish I could see all the pages allowed. Our class had our XXth reunion in October and it was miserable. Very poor planning, execution and follow through so I'm quite jealous of you and your planning committee. Please let me know your guidelines regarding allowing non-members access to the full site. Thanks and blessings on your day, [name withheld]
So there you are.
And by the way: Did you notice that we just passed 34,000 visitors to our little website? The "rate of acquisition", as we call it in the business, is actually increasing.
Who’s Been Online? (December 24, 2019)
If you go to this PAGE you will find out.
It turns out that quite a few people are checking in on a semi-regular basis.
10-10-2020 Birthday Party Survey Results
We did this survey a few weeks ago.
I told you about the results but never showed you the actual responses.
Here they are, all 40 of them! That's a big number for participation in a survey.
Some of you are steadfastly avoiding answering all surveys. Not sure why that is, but probably has to do with all of us being constantly bombarded with input requests. I can understand that.
But this is different. We aren't trying to sell you anything, really.
Every response tells us what is working and what is not working. We prefer things that receive a positive response.
As you can see, your responses are anonymous to the class.
Go HERE to see what the class thinks about 10-10-2020.
Show Me the Money
Go HERE to see the rest.
Birds of a Feather....
.... flock together.
Learn a bit more about this powerful cross-species characteristic.
Also, some great photos.
And a couple surprises at the end. We have proof!
Go HERE to see a different kind of tweet.
Sorry, You Paid Too Much for the 50th Reunion
Did I get your attention with that headline?
I previewed this message with a few of you and received feedback on it.
Some thought the headline was a bit over-the top and abrasive.
So how about this one?
We Have Surplus Funds Due to Great Turnout for Our Events
What should we do with the money? Who gets to decide?
The purpose of collecting money for group events, like our 50th reunion, is simply to cover the costs of the planned activities and to make sure that the organizers don’t have to cough up their own funds to make it all happen.
That’s it. End of story.
If not enough money is collected then it is up to the organizers to cover the difference. That is, unless they can convince others to help out.
Well, we have an entirely different kind of situation.
We made too much money!
How can that be? We know that the 50th Reunion, at $55 each, is one of the most reasonable (cheap) reunion dinners ever organized! Heck, the class of 1969 is charging $100 a plate the last we heard!
And the Meet & Greet? We charged you the grand sum ot $25 per person to attend and scarf up on a myriad of appetizers (which you chose, by the way).
Even with prizes, extra furniture, payng for teachers and others, big time photography, entertainment, great decorations, cupcakes, and other extras, we STILL ended up making almost $1,500 on the reunion after all the bills were paid!
The surplus funds were generated by this website strictly through your ticket purchases. We didn't even try to sell cool memorabilia. Just "tickets" to events.
Should you, the Class of 1968, have some say in how these surplus funds are spent?
Do you want to save it for a possible 55th reunion? Would you attend such an event?
Should we let a locally based, unelected “new committee” decide what to do with the extra money that you contributed?
Would you choose to put it towards another upcoming event to lower costs and produce a substantially lower break-even point?
Should we just refund a small portion to each person who “overpaid” for the 50th?
Give it to a local charity? Which one?
How about using it as a way to avoid out-of-pocket expenses for event organizers? When it is over, restore the $1,500 to help get the next event off the ground.
A couple people suggested that we keep the $1,500 for the last person standing in our class to help with their funeral expenses!
Getting to the point, you are all part of the new "governing" group, all 165 of you who are online with us. You can vote, answer questions, participate in surveys, ask about things, make announcements, wish happy birthday, contribute to stories, make voluntary donations, and actively be a part of the class in a number of other ways.
And the best part? You don't have to be a local person to help guide this ship called the South High Class of 1968! You can live anywhere in the world and still be a contributing member of the group. Anywhere -- Florida. Oregon. Arizona. Texas. Africa. Arkansas. Oklahoma. Idaho. Washington. Anywhere up and down the Central Valley of California. (I know, I missed a lot of places, like the Sierra Nevada mountains where I live!)
How do I know that you are out there? Here is an example: An interesting story, photo feature or "funny bit" will generate 60-80 direct responses (logins) to the website over 2-3 days. You are out there and you are waiting for something interesting to happen.
The simple fact is, this is 2019, not 1968. This is our current reality, like it or not. This is our exclusive form of social media!! For communicating our thoughts and ideas, inspiring others, making people laugh, sharing our losses, or expressing views, it is a 1000 times better than any form of communication that we have had in the past.
When is the last time you sent a letter to a friend?
50 years ago nobody could have predicted that this type of electronic experience would become commonplace.
But here we are. Congratulations. Welcome to our unique and direct form of democracy. Your vote counts. You are not dependent on unelected officials making choices for you.
Let's make some decisions!
My Reunion Story, Part One
It's the beginning of October and time to take a brief look back.
I hold nothing back in my candid recounting of my experience with the 50th Reunion.
Well, not exactly. But you may get a chuckle or two from reading it.
On the other hand, did you know that there are about 33% of us who have no sense of humor? It's a fact!
I'll just assume that those humorless 33% never read these pages, anyway!
But if you have no sense of humor just consider it similar to not being able to carry a tune. Or having an inability to read a map. Or being color blind. It happens.
Check out Part One HERE.
My Reunion Story, Part 2
I told you that there was another part to my story.
It is a bit more difficult to talk and write about.
Much of it was extremely unpleasant for Vicki and I. Just plain uncomfortable.
Do you really want me to tell you what happened, from my point of view?
Or is it best just to say, "Everybody had a good time and let's just leave it at that." ?
I'll go either way. But I am the only person that knows most of the details.
And as you all know by now, I know how to tell a story.
It is your call.
By the way, I could not be happier with the 4 volunteers we have had for "life stories". Each of the narratives is absolutely spectacular. I am so grateful for their willingness to share their life experiences with us. That is not easy to do. Each is special and each so different! Face it, we are all unique.
I'm looking for our next subject. Everybody has a story to tell. This is your chance. You will not regret it. Together, we will make this happen.
So let's vote.
But first, let me be clear about what "anonymous" means in terms of these surveys. It means that I will not divulge who voted for what. You will have to take my word for that. As an administrator of the website (there are three of us), I can see this information. Sometimes I even respond to you in a personal message. But we will not publish to the world anything that we say is "anonymous". And I trust the other two admins with my life. I'm married to one of them. If we had 20 admins I could not promise you anything in terms of secrecy. That's not how people work. Just look at our leaking nation's capital. So now you know. I think the only survey results that we published with names was your evaluation of the reunion. But they were 100% positive, so that did not seem to be a problem.
10-10-2020 is One Year Away!
That's 365 days and counting.
Much needs to be discussed and decided on.
In the meantime, you need to stay healthy and ready to go.
Make it a goal to be there. It's only going to happen once.
Read all about it HERE.
It is going to happen, whether we get 10 people or 200.
The party is on!
The birthday party, that is.
Let’s just call it the South High Class of 1968 70th Birthday Party.
Were the Photos Worth It?
During the early meetings with the former committee, back in March of 2018, I made a couple of “demands”. After all, I was getting ready to dedicate several months of my life to this effort and I wanted assurances that my time was going to be well spent.
Here is what I asked for:
1. This would not be an event where we just invited our friends and that would be “good enough”. If we, as a group, were not prepared to make a committment to locate and invite every former classmate then I simply was not interested in being part of it. I wanted to avoid the “cliquish” behavior others had seen and complained about in the past. Many classmates had never even heard about the other reunions.
2. We would commemorate this “historic” one-of-a-kind event by hiring a professional photographer. I told them that the candid shots of the other reunions were just not very good. In truth, they aren’t. I simply wasn’t going to let that happen this time.
I made some enemies by speaking the truth, as I saw it. Comes with the territory, as all of you independent thinkers surely understand. But I also finally prevailed and, after a rigorous evaluation and interview process, hired a competent photo team.
I received the original quote from the photographer and presented it to the committee. They insisted that we cut it back by at least a third, though they gave no justification for doing so. I told the committee that, according to my break-even analysis, we could easily afford the full price.
So I went back to the photog and we worked out a deal where she shot fewer hours by cutting out early from both events and showing up later at the start. I wasn’t happy but my hands were tied.
The issue of hiring a pro photographer simmered for a few months.
So let’s do the math. Yes, I taught math once. A long time ago.
The photography team cost us $1,200. The final product would be digital images, available free to everybody in the class. Just download what you want. $1,200, by the way, is less than 10% of the total cost of the reunion.
When you count the participants for the two big events it adds up to 318 paid people. Many (most) paid for both events.
$1,200 divided by 318 = $3.77 each. That’s what each of you paid for all of the photos.
How many photos did they take?
They took 954 digital photos with professional cameras and related equipment.
How much did each professional digital photo cost you?
$3.77 divided by 954 = about a third of a penny each.
And now you get to answer one simple Yes/No question. Please jump in here. The answer will be anonymous.
Hello South High Class of 1968!