The Linear Canvas
This journal is about the wrongs and rights of the world, as I see them.

The Linear Canvas

Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking Sing (video)

October 30th, 2009 . by Alexander Fisher

Carl Sagan – ‘A Glorious Dawn’ with Stephen Hawking (Cosmos Remixed)

If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch
You must first, invent the universe…


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The Symphony of Science

There goes a quarters worth of rubber: My time with Hobart Francis

October 24th, 2009 . by Alexander Fisher

My dad had been interested in electronics and always tried to repair our televisions when he could. He had some miscellaneous hand tools and some test instruments including a vacuum tube tester. That was just enough exposure to make me think I wanted to be trained in electronics as well.

In the mid-1970’s, my school in London, Ohio had become involved in a joint vocational school (JVS) with a number of other local school systems. Each JVS program would last the final two years of high school and you would receive a certificate as well as a diploma at graduation. The stated purpose of this was probably to help train young people for the jobs of the future. I think the actual purpose, at least at first, was to get the deadwood out of the local school principal’s office and into the JVS principal’s office, at least for some students.

Hobart Francis in May 1981

I was somewhere in between. I was a bit of a trouble maker and terribly unreliable. But I did have some history of getting decent grades with little effort, when I wanted to. That was quite unlike most of the other semi-permanent participants of the after school detention program that I belonged to.

Our local JVS was recruiting us as soon as the money became available and the school was being built. I remember the question I asked the recruiter was, would I have to cut my hair if I went there? I had been sent home many times the last two to three years by the principal because of my hair length. Luckily there was no rule, so I would be able to grow my hair as long as I wanted.

About the same time, I was becoming interested in making a career as an FM rock radio disk jockey. I loved music. I read every rock magazine I could get my hands on. I wanted to be a rock star first, but a radio disk jockey if that didn’t work out. A friend of mine and I both had thought that the electronics program at the JVS was the way to make that happen. He realized after one year that it wasn’t the path at all. He went back to regular high school in his senior year and became a relatively famous radio personality. I stayed in electronics at JVS and I became a cable guy. I’m still working on the rock star thing.

As the summer drew to a close I still had no idea that I would find a job in electronics before I actually learned anything about it.


I had known Mrs. Francis (Mabel) for awhile. She had at one time also owned the State Restaurant. I had spent plenty of my lunch money there over the years. (See my post “Running From Rocks“) I would never say that she had been rude to me or actually even nice to me. She just gave you that look. She knew you were there, but she just wasn’t that excited about it.

I had also been buying 45 rpm records at her radio/TV sales and repair business, Francis Radio and TV. It was just up the street from the restaurant and she co-owned it with her husband, Hobart.

Mabel Francis

When I was in grade school, I only received a small allowance from my parents each week. I couldn’t afford record albums, but music singles on 45’s were within my budget.  Buying records at Francis’ was more expensive than most of the other stores in London. You had to really want something badly to have to buy it there. In addition, Mrs. Francis would follow you around the store like she thought you were going to steal something.

Once I went to the door of their store, just after 5 o’clock with my sisters and it was unlocked. We went in and immediately noticed the lights were out. I called out, but no one was there. I don’t remember us taking anything. We just walked out. I told Hobart about it once and he looked at me like he was a little stunned to hear that. It was as if I knew something that he also knew about. He said he had some unreliable person working for him then. That was right around the time Mrs. Francis left the State Restaurant and began working in the TV shop with him full time.

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Be Bop Deluxe – Sister Seagull (video)

October 2nd, 2009 . by Alexander Fisher

Click here to see the video if the above video player does not work

Progressive Rock took many forms in the mid-1970’s. Some bands, like Be Bop Deluxe, bridged the gap between Progressive Rock and the New Wave that began later in the 70’s. Bill Nelson is a phenomenal guitar player and really shines in the solo break during this song.

I have a live double LP and a CD of Be Bop Deluxe called "Live in the Air Age". It’s an incredible live performance by the band and marked the height of their popularity. The double LP I have has one white vinyl disk included. I suppose that makes it a collectors item. It’s in perfect condition.

This video, recorded in 1975, is just OK and the sound is only slightly better. I believe the song "Sister Seagull" was a minor hit for them and was certainly one of the high points of their concerts.