On this day in 1953, the first Chevy Corvette rolled off the assembly line in Flint, Michigan. At that time, it was an experiment, and only 300 cars were produced that year, all of them convertibles, all of them white, with a red interior and a black ragtop. The Corvette was made of fiberglass, and came with two options: an AM radio for $145, and a heater for $91. It wasn’t exactly a high-performance vehicle, at 105 horsepower; it wasn’t until 1955 that the car incorporated a V-8 engine and attained a muscular 195 horses.
You might set yourself up for disappointment today because it seems like you’re willing to take care of everyone at work. However, you shouldn’t spread yourself too thin, even if you care about others a whole lot. Try weaving an invisible protective shell around you so you don’t get pulled off track. You’ll probably do fine in the long run, but your current feelings of scarcity can impede your progress. It may feel like a stretch to change your attitude, but you certainly have the power to do it.
See you on Tuesday. With my invisible protective shell.
It’s the birthday of French aviator and writer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, born in Lyons, France in 1900. He was rather a poor student, and he failed his entrance exam to the naval academy, but he joined the French army in 1921, and that’s where he flew his first plane. He left the military five years later and began flying airmail routes into the Sahara Desert.
When the Nazis invaded France in 1940, he fled to the United States, hoping to serve the U.S. forces as a fighter pilot. He was turned down because of his age, and, homesick and discouraged, he began his best-known book, The Little Prince(1943). The following year, he returned to North Africa to fly a warplane for France. He took off on a mission on July 31, 1944, and was never heard from again.
On this day in 1974, the first Universal Product Code was scanned at a supermarket cash register. The UPC bar code system was originally invented specifically for grocery stores, to speed check-out and help them keep better track of their inventory, but it proved so successful that it spread quickly to other retailers.
The first patent for a bar code went to N. Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver in 1952. They didn’t do anything with it for 20 years, because the scanning technology didn’t exist yet.
By 1972, Woodland was working for IBM, and it was there that the bar code design was perfected and the prototype scanner was built in 1973. The IBM 3660 included a digital cash register and checkout scanner, and the grocery industry, which had been collaborating with IBM on the invention, began requiring its suppliers to start putting bar codes on their packaging.
The first scan was made at a Marsh’s Supermarket in Troy, Ohio, which had agreed to serve as a test facility for the new technology, and the first item scanned was a pack of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit Gum. There’s no significance to gum being the first item scanned; it just happened to be the first thing pulled from the cart. That pack of gum is on display at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.
It’s the birthday of novelist and essayist George Orwell, born Eric Arthur Blair in Bengal, India (1903). He didn’t care for his birth name; he found “Eric” too Norse and “Blair” too Scottish. When he began writing in earnest, he adopted what he felt was a solidly English name; his surname comes from the River Orwell in East Anglia.
Best known for his anti-communist and dystopian novels Animal Farm
(1933) was a retelling of time he spent among the poor in England and Europe; The Road to Wigan Pier (1937) was both a pro- and anti-socialist look at unemployed miners in the north of England. He also wrote an essay decrying the abuse of language by politicians and the media, called “Politics and the English Language” (1946). In it, he includes five rules for effective written communication:
Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
Never use a long word where a short one will do.
If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
NJ Fails to Meet Its Obligations to Public Employees
"… the state and municipalities failed to meet its financial obligations. Since 2004, the state has not made $15.11 billion in required payments to the pension funds, while the municipalities have skipped $1.9 billion. Public employees, meanwhile, have fully paid their required contributions.
As a result, the state has a $54 billion shortfall in its pension system, among the highest in the nation. New Jersey’s health benefit system is in even worse shape than the pension fund and is the most poorly funded in the nation at $66.8 billion in the hole, according to the Pew Center on the States.”
An odd poem today from The Writers Almanac on this third Sunday in June honoring fathers. It’s a fairly recent holiday. The first bill to make it a national holiday was introduced in Congress in 1913, but in spite of encouragement by President Woodrow Wilson, it didn’t pass. In 1966, Lyndon Johnson issued a proclamation designating the third Sunday in June to honor fathers, and it finally became an official, permanent national holiday during the Nixon administration.
My friend says I was not a good son you understand I say yes I understand
he says I did not go to see my parents very often you know and I say yes I know
even when I was living in the same city he says maybe I would go there once a month or maybe even less I say oh yes
he says the last time I went to see my father I say the last time I saw my father
he says the last time I saw my father he was asking me about my life how I was making out and he went into the next room to get something to give me
oh I say feeling again the cold of my father’s hand the last time
he says and my father turned in the doorway and saw me look at my wristwatch and he said you know I would like you to stay and talk with me
oh yes I say
but if you are busy he said I don’t want you to feel that you have to just because I’m here
I say nothing he says my father said maybe you have important work you are doing or maybe you should be seeing somebody I don’t want to keep you
I look out the window my friend is older than I am he says and I told my father it was so and I got up and left him then you know
though there was nowhere I had to go and nothing I had to do