A Few Good Friends



The following photos appear in no particular order.
I could never list these great people by
how good a friend they are, or how long I have known them, or any other method.
Each of these Beings has contributed to my life immeasurably,
and I am privileged to call them Friends.




Katie Vita is so much more than the assemblage of her many unique talents.
The world knows her as actress and artist.
I know her as one of my best friends forever.
I discovered Frisbee on the beach with Katie,
so long ago that it just doesn't seem possible.
She grew up, married, and moved far away,
but through it all, our paths would cross many times,
each time we marveled at how close we stayed,
and each time we usually found a Frisbee and a beach.

Katie is the author of that most memorable
summation of The Meaning of Life:
"To Fris is to Be".
(Click here for the painting she did for me)



I met Abi Collins on a deserted street corner in Luxembourg.
I was flying my biplane around Europe at the time,
and London-born, Australia-living Abi was entertaining the Luxoids (or whatever you call them)
and Fate decreed that our paths would cross in this very out of the way place.
(Read the story, click here)

Abi is a prodigious talent, and working hard to break into the big time.
It would be completely unsurprising if she were Godzilla-famous soon.
As of this writing, she is in Belgium, but that could change at any moment.
Check out her videos on MySpace at Abi Collins - MySpace

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Kristin and I went to the same university,
but at different times, so we never met until years later
only because she dialed a wrong number,
and we talked for a long time before she discovered
that I wasn't the guy she thought she was calling.
She's currently hanging out in Florida, married to an FBI agent
Kinda looks like it from her photo, eh?
High energy, cute as a button, and good people...
what more could you ask?

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(click to visit his website)

Barry Tempest is one of my favorite biplane flying people.
I met him just after crossing the English Channel in '97
in my biplane, and landing at Lydd on the south coast of England.
(see story/photos at this link)
He was on his way to an airshow in Belgium
with a VERY attractive wing-walker, in his Stearman.

But he's not just any ordinary airshow/biplane dude...
Actually, his responsibilities included the regulation
and oversight of all civil Air Displays in the UK!!!
Check out his webpage

Barry gave me the high honor of inviting me to fly at the annual airshow
at Duxford (England) airfield, when I toured Europe in my biplane, September 1997.
Click here
to see the authorization he signed,
one of my most prized possessions!

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Debra Soto Legris. High energy, high intelligence, high goals. Deb is a great long time friend who is extraordinarily talented. She's married to good friend Tim, and together they have a daughter Aviana. This photo is from the new book "Mustang: 40 Years" by another good friend Dave Newhardt (see below). Deb just happened to be in the right place at the right time to be the model. We got to be great friends when I stayed at her home for several months, while I was moving from Fun House #2 in the desert (the airplane hangar) back to the beach.

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Diane DiNucci. Drop-dead gorgeous, of course, but that's just what you see from the outside. Get to know her and you will learn that she is a most beautiful spirit as well. I met her completely by accident one evening at dinner, and only later did I learn that our close mutual friend is Carol Soria (see below). Check out Diane's website.

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You wouldn't know it by looking at him, but Rusty Riscetta is one of those mild-mannered guys who is really a Superman. More people should know his story, which you could read by clicking on The Inventors Assistance League where it tells more about him. If you have an idea for an invention, or improved process, he's the guy to talk with. And in a completely unrelated incident, he arranged for me to meet the pope! How many people do you know who could do that? He still loves his wife Jo, after more than half a century together! And he has more energy than any two people I know.

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Alex Wenz (seated) is amazingly versatile and talented and the first participant of the "Tuesdays with Mikie" mental jam session for entrepreneurs. That may need some explaining. First of all, the talented part: his Original Sound Blues Band is "Velvet Crumble" and you can sample some of his music for free at The Velvet Crumble website.

Versatile? Alex is also a top flight recruiter of high technology talent. Check out his company Tech Talent. He's also a pretty decent ping pong player. I lost a wetsuit to him in a game with him a few years back. I think he was focusing a little more than I was; he put up his foxy roomie Joni. Nowadays we don't bet on our games and we split enough to keep it fun.

Now, on to the "Tuesdays with Mikie" reference: that phrase is a takeoff on the popular book "Tuesdays with Morrie", in which the author chronicles the awakenings he experienced during regular visits with a dying man. While that may seem like a morbid topic, it was a rather appropriate analogy to describe how I feel every moment of every day... or at least that is the plan: to experience the HERE/NOW to the fullest, and to create the greatest possible change with the least amount of effort (The Gesture of Maximum Leverage). Back to the point of all this... Tuesdays with Mikie is the name for a meeting that Alex and I had every Tuesday afternoon for several months. The first part of the meeting, for about an hour and a half, was focused intently on Determining an Ideal Business for either him, or me, or us, to start. The second part of the meeting, maybe another hour or so, was dedicated to playing ping-pong. And we agreed that we would enjoy the play and NOT keep score.

You're asking where this is going. Patience, some of the best things take time... And, here is your reward: One of the first principles that I postulated at our first meeting was that whatever we did in the business part of our meetings would be focused not only on the result of the content of our meetings but also on the creation of a product as a result of the process itself. This then, was the birth of the "IdeaGrinder", a copyrighted, patent-application-in-process, Excel-spreadsheet-based, software product that helps serial entrepreneurs (or anyone, really) find the Ideal Business (or Any Goal, really). In effect, it is the Holy Grail of all mankind, the General Purpose Problem Solver.

If you would like a copy of this awesome product, well, you know how to contact me, or Alex.

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John and I were always hanging out together as kids, from about 6th grade all the way through high school. It seems we were always getting in trouble together, (but isn't that what boys do?). It's just a tribute to the indomitable will of man (and possibly a large dollop of good fortune) that we both turned out ok, although it probably took me a lot longer. Graduation Day was the last I saw or heard of him until one day I learned he was the new Secretary of the Navy, under President Reagan. The photo here is a scan of the cover of his book which chronicles those years ('81-'87). John's an excellent writer, and to check out his other books, click here. It seems like every time we get together, the years melt away, and we are kids again!

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It was about 43 years later that I found Mike again. We hung out in high school, and there are many stories that he remembers and I don't. And he enjoys telling them, so for me it's like going back to high school all over again (a good thing). He also told me the amazing story of what was really going on during the Cuban Missle Crisis, about how the US was able to pinpoint USSR nuclear subs throughout the globe, and about how that was the ultimate bargaining chip Kennedy used in those almost-final hours of civilization. Mike Wargo worked in the shadows on that one, a Marine in Karamursel (Istanbul, Turkey), one of the Top Secret posts around the world using brilliant new technology to spy on Red sub locations. Read this published story for details!

Mike is now living in Germany, caring for his two young sons, teaching at a university.

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Mark Kalina, MD was my regular freestyle frisbee partner, (and that is saying a lot). He's either on the beach with me, inventing new disc moves, or he is "changing the paradigm of medicine". He's also into surfing, and trying desperately to beat me at 8-ball.

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Lisette Hart's guidance in my yoga was a beautiful experience. She taught me about "moving into stillness", and how to "lovingly surrender", among many other things.
Click her photo for more information about her teaching, and Yoga Branch, her studio.
Canadians are cool people. ;o)
Namaste' Lisette.

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Bonnie and Vince are neighbors who stayed friends for the last 30+ years. Bonnie's garden is a joy to behold, ever changing and always thriving. Vince is a rock, a true friend.

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Tanja and I worked closely together during the TeleMagic adventure. She was the awesome good energy behind one of the best products we ever put out, TeleMagic V12 Developers' Kit. The product is gone now, but Tanja and I have stayed good friends. Is she a beautiful person, or what?

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Kat. They haven't built a camera yet that can capture the essence of a great human being, so you'll just have to take my word for it: Kat is a truly great human being. Impossibly energetic, very smart, compassionate, and, if you hadn't already noticed, stunningly good looking. Kat says she will sit and read to me when I'm very old. I'm looking forward to it! When you meet her, ask her about her son Trystan!

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Pawan Mehra is a good friend and yoga guru,
hold's the Sun Valley record for most vertical feet on skis for the 1999-2000 season
(and he took a month off for a Hawaiian vacation in the middle of the season),
and is an enlightened human being.
Also on the Board of Directors during the TeleMagic adventure.

Check out Pawan's web site!

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Joey Stewart (center) and Peter Green (right) are pictured here on the occasion of one of my more unruly (and better dressed) birthday parties. The large cup we are holding is filled with Guinness (as is the glass Joey is holding above my head). This trophy was won just that day by Peter's championship soccer team. After many pints one night at Peter's pub, Joey and I agreed to have our companies (he founded Kerry Oil Candles) buy the uniforms for Peter's team. Soccer comes naturally to Peter, who was born and raised in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in the northeast of England. Joey was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland. Guinness comes naturally to all three of us.

No Guinness was spilled during the taking of this photo.

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Sean Curtis. Good friend for many years.
Expert at tennis, sailing, skiing, and golf,
but to his unending frustration he still hasn't beat me at ping pong.
Sean is also an oceanfront dweller, and nearby neighbor.
He was the very first TeleMagic software user, and still uses it every day in
his business, Coffee Ambassador, a San Diego based office coffee service.
When I passed my pilot check ride, and was finally able to take passengers for the first time, I offered the honor to Sean to be my first. Sean is a good friend, and he trusts me implicitly, but he is also very smart. He suggested I take his mother and sister first, and if they returned safely, then he would fly with me.

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Carol Soria has been my trusted friend and assistant for more than 25 years. Shown here in native Indian clothes ("punjabis") purchased in Delhi, on her March 2000 trip to India. A true vegetarian and a very spiritual person, with a loving and caring persona, Carol has contributed greatly to my good health with her exceptional cooking, and to my peace of mind with her extraordinary organizational skills. Namaste', Carol!

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Tricia Gregory (aka "The Brit"), living in London, England,
has a wonderful sense of humour, multiple dogs and fancies herself to be Queen, at times.
Although we are separated by a continent, an ocean, and a common language,
we are still very close.
If you do business in the U.K. check out her company Isocube.

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Lowell Williams (he's on the right, that's me on the left) is pictured here with a P-51 Mustang which we had dressed up with his name and numbers for a trip down memory lane. A bunch of his friends chipped in and bought him his first ride in this great aircraft since he flew one in combat in WWII. Boy was he surprised!

You don't have to save my life to get on this list, but it helps! Lowell Williams saved my life countless times, and he also saved me from wrecking my plane probably even more countless times, all during the time he was trying, patiently, to teach me how to fly, safely, professionally.

Lowell accompanied me as safety pilot on my trip with N250YM (the second Waco) from the factory in the summer of '94. We went the long way (6 weeks!) back to California via Philadelphia, a college reunion in Maryland and a fly-in gathering of Wacos in Creve Couer outside of St. Louis MO. We eventually got back and I learned a ton about flying from Lowell in that time. And I gained a lot of confidence.

During these trips, Lowell would never touch the controls, except in the rare case where damage would have occurred within seconds if he did not touch the controls. This happened almost every flight at first, and then every other flight, and then one in ten, and by the end of the summer it was none at all. I felt "graduated".

Next he taught me aerobatics! That's Lowell's specialty. He was doing loops and rolls and all the good stuff, 5 days a week, at Palomar Airport in Carlsbad CA, right into his late seventies. You couldn't get a finer flight instructor! Or a friend. You know, I never met a single human being who didn't like Lowell!

Lowell died in September, 2006. And he will be sorely missed.
Click here for a webpage with lots more Lowell photos.

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George Walther is an internationally acclaimed expert at boosting personal performance. He's a professional speaker of the highest caliber, and is widely published. Learn more about George at his website, Speaking From Experience. George is one of my favorite people. Positive, intelligent, successful entrepreneur who started with nothing. Check out his new book What You Say is What You Get, where he shows you the magic and power of speaking positively.

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Chris and Rick Feeny are a magical couple I have known since high school. Here's the story: Chris was my date at a party where I introduced her to Rick. Game Over. Well, if you're going to lose your girlfriend, it's best that she wind up marrying your best friend. The better man won. Rick and Chris live in one of those Carolina states and we don't get to see much of each other any more, but when we do it's just like we were back in high school again.

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If you like cars, Dave Newhardt is a name you know. He's a professional photographer/author, who does the best work out there. He has many books to his credit! But best of all, he's a good friend. Submariner, father of two boys, married to a beautiful woman, and has the strongest handshake I've run across. Remember this when you meet him!
Check out his website at http://www.davidnewhardt.com/

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Art Annecharico owns a biplane just like mine, only mine is prettier, wouldn't you agree?. For some reason, he thinks that rainbow swoopy thing on the tail really looks good. However, he did turn me on to painting the pilot's name on the cockpit. He also taught me a lot more about flying, too. Art was on my wing for the entire Summer '96 biplane tour of the USA, from SoCal to Maine, then down the east coast to Kitty Hawk North Carolina, then back home again. We also flew the entire west coast from SoCal to Canada, and back, in a week in September in '95. During that flight Art and I had some real interesting adventures. That was the first time I ever got caught having to rely on instruments-only, except that this time it was at an altitude of only 50 feet over the ocean. There was no room for error. But that's another story. Art always gave me complete freedom to call a Go/NoGo decision, and never tried to overrule my call even though he has thousands more hours than I do.

We flew a good bit in close formation. You gotta trust somebody you fly that close to.

Art lives in Boulder with his lovely wife Betty, and they are the nicest human beings you will ever meet. He's into fly fishing, custom Harleys, and random acts of kindness. Nowadays he is a college professor (part time) sharing his lifetime of experience producing Television shows. Ask him about his Emmy!

Read the story about Art flying under the bridge at Cairo, Illinois!

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Carol and David Goodell, great friends for more than 30 years, since the first time my Ferrari dripped oil on his Porsche's driveway. David was on my Board of Advisors during the last couple of years of the TeleMagic adventure, and the one who invited me to become a founder of
Landmark National Bank. David drove a Porsche Turbo at the 24-hour Daytona endurance races. He recently got himself a vintage NASCAR racecar and is having a ball with it! Carol is the sweetest human being on the planet.

Check out their neat store, The Frustrated Cowboy.
They are also the owners of the Seabreeze Farms Equestrian Center.

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Eric Hertel is shown here trying out my flight helmet. At this moment, he's a fighter pilot on a mission to shoot down the bad guys and blow up their stuff. Of all the toys at the Fun House, he chose this one as the best, and I couldn't agree with him more!

This whole "friends" page started way back in the early days of this website when a new digital camera coincided with a visit by Eric and his mom Theresa. Anyway, so here's this great photo and a website looking for content, and bingo, you have another genius idea. So Eric's photo was first, and I have added photos as they have become available, without any conscious decision to collect them. It has been fun watching this part of the website grow.

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Take Care Of Yer Friends

Friend is a word that I don't throw around
Though it's used and abused, I still like the sound.
I save it for people who've done right by me
And I know I can count on if ever need be.

Some of my friends drive big limousines
Own ranches and banks and visit with queens.
And some of my friends are up to their neck
In overdue notes and can't write a check.

They're singers or ropers or writers of prose
And others, God bless 'em, can't blow their own nose!
I guess bein' friends don't have nothin' to do
With talent or money or knowin' who's who.

It's a comf'terbul feelin' when you don't have to care
'Bout choosin' your words or bein' quite fair
'Cause friends'll just listen and let go on by
Those words you don't mean and not bat an eye.

It makes a friend happy to see your success.
They're proud of yer good side and forgive all the rest
And that ain't so easy, all of the time
Sometimes I get crazy and seem to go blind!

Yer friend just might have to take you on home
Or remind you sometime that you're not all alone.
Or ever so gently pull you back to the ground
When you think you can fly with no one around.

A hug or a shake, whichever seems right
Is the high point of givin', I'll tell ya tonight,
All worldly riches and tributes of men
Can't hold a candle to the worth of a friend.

© Baxter Black

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