Blog Journal: Are we in the best of times?

Day #6 Since starting my “get up earlier” routine.

5:20 am

For those of you who haven’t figured it out by now, I blog Monday through Friday on and on Sunday I blog on It turns out, the daily timing of my posts this last weekend was critical in how I needed to meet the demand of my “day” job which required several 12+ hour days on Thursday and Friday and topped off with a 9+ hour day on Saturday. Wow, did I ever need to be able to sleep in on Saturday morning and not have to write a blogpost after working over 24 hours of intense CAD work in two days!
But that’s how entrenched I am in my effort to write my posts. I It’s my desire to maintain that commitment. In the future, I will need to address the added difficulty in blogging while traveling for over a week, so we’ll see how that goes.

I have a handful of ideas to write about in my mental pipeline but I am led to one of two for today, one has to do with “How I overcame some really miserable feelings at work last Friday night as I struggled in my cubicle job” or should I write about how “These days are the Best of Times?”

After a mental coin toss, and for no particular reason except for that it is Monday morning, when most people have heart attacks because they hate their jobs and don’t want to face them (according to a Les Brown talk I heard). Think of it, this means people would rather die than face the uncertainty of a frightful day at work.

I want to write about…

My uncles, Francis and Stanley Jong, with their cousin, Eddy on a San Francisco street in 1920. Source: Roberta Yee collection

My uncles, Francis and Stanley Jong, with their cousin, Eddy on a San Francisco street in 1920. Source: Roberta Yee collection


“The Best of Times”

I was musing, while I was doggedly attacking my work last week, while listening to some of my favorite George Gershwin music (i.e. Rhapsody in Blue) how that Era in American history (1900-1930) was emblazoned with the “I can make you a Star” dreams of people going to Hollywood. No doubt, life had its misery and torments back then, heck, we had World War I, but it seems to me the glorious opportunities that most people will gaze back upon that stand out. Things like, the introduction of the dogfight and the chivalry of aerial combat, and the expansion of Hollywood and the movie industry.

The expansion of the movie industry was like another “gold rush” where aspiring people would just drop their humble life into a carry-on suitcase, hop onboard a train or even a ship, and take their chances to be noticed by a Hollywood talent scout.

My favorite Canadian who became an American, Norma Shearer, started her journey, first to New York with her sister to become one of the “famous” Ziegfeld Girls, the legendary musical revue with scores of attractive women on the Broadway stage.

Norma Shearer. Source:

Norma Shearer. Source:

Greta Garbo. Source:

Greta Garbo. Source:

Another lesser known story of great Hollywood actresses was that of Greta Garbo. This beautiful and quiet lady came from Sweden. Her name was Greta Gufstafsson when she arrive to meet the Hollywood PR man who worked with MGM at the time.

Hubert Voight, who I had the honor and pleasure to meet in the 1980, was the PR man. He and his photographer welcomed Greta Garbo in New York when she arrived with her Swedish director.

Mr. Voight told me, as I sat in his public relations office in Menlo Park, CA, how Miss Garbo, was not well-known in the United States and the studio (MGM) only budgeted one roll or film for the first day publicity shots. The sad fact is, Greta Garbo, who became insanely famous later on, loved taking photos so much that day on the S.S. Stockholm, that Mr. Voight ordered his photographer to “keep taking pictures” even though they had run out of film. He didn’t have the heart to tell her they didn’t have any more film. “Had we had film in that camera,” Mr. Voight lamented, “those pictures would be worth millions now…” of the woman who he had the idea of promoting as “the Norma Shearer of Sweden.”

Thank you Mr. Hubert Voight, may you rest easily, I will always remember you how you welcomed a curious high school student and introduced me to an inside world of Hollywood of the early days.

So what is my point and what do you take away?

The point I want to make, since it is 6:20 am, with unexpected tears running down my face from remembering my old friend Mr. Voight, is we are living in a Gold Rush now, we are living in the new great days of opportunity right now.

Appreciate what you will from the lives and events of people in the past, both great and small, but do what they did! Not live in the past, but live to take advantage of what you have today!

If you want to aspire to be like those in the past, whether they are Lord Horatio Nelson (that’s going back), Eddie Rickenbacker, or a Norma Shearer, a Greta Garbo or even my friend Hubert Voight, know that they were people who WERE NOT living in the past, they were taking advantage of what life was pitching at them in their lives right then and now!

Life is for the Dreamers (did Steve Job’s market that?), the successful didn’t wish for a yesterday, they lived for today and the dreams for the future. And I would add, that the advent of the internet and the proliferation of the blog as a publication outlet, is no less that your modern day gold rush.

Enjoy it.

7:09 am (hitting “publish”)

If you’ve received value from this, learned something useful or maybe you like old Hollywood movies and follow Norma Shearer, please like, share and comment.


P.S. I don’t have my archived pictures available, but when I do, I will publish some old memorabilia.

I’ll see you… on the next page.

Challen Yee

Challen Yee

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