MONDAY 7-01-2013

Jul 01, 2013 -- 2:51pm

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Rep. Eric Swalwell's (D-Calif.) wisely proposes that Congress be able to cast votes from home. Take it one step further - How about Congress meets via Skype? Been saying for years (and Beck concurred on his show the other day) that the whole structure of DC is designed to give sociopaths in power a puffed-up ego.

Think about how this could work. You want to see Greg Walden? Drop by his office IN OREGON. We'd probably lose Ron Wyden to New York, while Senator Merkley could bunk with KS Wild. ;-)

Presidents can live in the Washington Monument. They have the biggest phallic egos of all.

In all seriousness, the DC infrastructure totally separates them from any reminder that they are representatives of regular people. Getting the reps and senators back home would minimize travel perks and junkets. PLUS, there would be no K street lobbyists sticking their noses up their behinds and plying them with booze, dinners, and promises of future consulting jobs. It's about time.

Next, we do the same thing to Salem! Yes, that would take a constitutional amendment, but keeping the reps closer to home more often would be a good thing.


7:10 John and Pauline Holeyton, we discuss the smartmeter controversy. Lots to see on their site

7:35 Dale Matthews, Sandy Cassenelli, open meetings law won't be enforced by Salem. Dale continues to give it to the JoCo board over all sorts of issues.


8:10 Dr. Dennis Powers "Visiting Past and Present", and today it's an ode to a hot weather cool-off idea!

The Mean, Stream Machine

By Dennis Powers

In the late 1980s, three young rafting enthusiasts—Bill Bednar (Medford financial planner), Dorian Corliss (Grants Pass banker), and Michael Neyt (Medford banker) —were enjoying a raft trip in Northern California. On the trip they spotted a crude device looking like a “homemade syringe” that shot water for a distance and thought that using one would be fun. Corliss built a four-foot-long “tube within a tube” as an experiment. With a hole in the front and plug in the back, the two PVC telescoping tubes could produce a distant water stream.

On a later trip in 1990 down the Rogue, the group was camping across from Zane Gray’s cabin at remote Winkle Bar in the lower Rogue River canyon. When another raft floated by, one of their group grabbed the soaker and shot water over the passing boaters. With everyone laughing, the threesome felt that they had a great idea. Neyt and Bednar built their own prototypes at home to compare with Corliss’s one.

As they experimented, they found that a 1-inch diameter pipe fit just right inside a larger 1-1/2 inch one. A groove on the inside PVC, an O-ring around the groove to keep compression, holes, and a cap on both ends did the trick. Forming a partnership, they hand-built 300 of the devices that could shoot water up to 70 feet. Outside Grants Pass over one weekend, Neyt and Bednar sold all of their devices for $20 each. They knew they had a money winner.

Incorporating their venture as Water Sports, Inc., the three men invested $10,000 each and got to work. They built the squirt guns inside Bill Bednar’s garage over weekends, and over the next year, sold some 5,000 of them, which they named “Dipstiks.” As all had demanding jobs, they next contracted with a Grants Pass company, SPARC Enterprises, to manufacture their product.

When Bednar wanted to step up marketing and sales, Dorian Corliss decided he would rather concentrate on his profession (followed by Michael Neyt) and later sold his interest to Bednar, who by his own admission was the “ultimate dreamer.” Corliss sold his one-third interest in 1992 for $170,000, and Bednar obtained the money by a loan from a friend.

When the “Dipstick” name turned out to be trademarked by another, the company needed a different name. Portland’s Terry Whitlock later ventured down and said that he had developed a streamer named “the Stream Machine.” This soaker was built in bright colors with a pistol grip handle, whereas the Dipstick was constructed from white PCV pipe. Whitlock said the decision was theirs: they could either take him into the company or he would compete against them.

Naming Whitlock as president in charge of marketing and sale, he was offered a 25% interest. Not wanting to be a minority owner and concentrate on his job, Neyt sold his interest back for $50,000, plus a 5% royalty on each unit produced. Sales grew from $600,000 in fiscal 1992 to $1.5 million in the following year. The sales volume didn’t match up, however, with the much larger inventories built up later, and the company ran into financial difficulties that included lawsuits and bankruptcy. At the same time, a patent was issued on their device.

When the financial problems and litigation was settled with Bill Bednar in control of the company, sales again took off with major customers involved such as Bi-Mart, Fred Meyer, and Costco. At its highpoint when manufactured at its Medford facility, 160 people were employed that produced 1000 Stream Machines every hour. When its sales volume increased to $3 million annually, Bednar sold the business for $2.4 million in 2000 to his Chicago-area, brothers-in-law. With the patent having expired later and under licensing agreements to others, different companies now produce and/or sell the soaker without restriction.

Dorian Corliss, Michael Neyt, and Bill Bednar brought about the universal squirting device seen on the Rogue--and rivers around the world--along with money in the bank. Not bad for three rafting friends who were just having fun all those years ago.

Sources: Paul Macomber, “Dip Stick Dream dries up in fight over bankruptcy,” Mail Tribune, July 2, 1994, at Financial Background and History; “U.S. Patent Office: Patent USD351007 S, water squirting toy” at Patent; Frank Silow, “A Splash in the Market,” Mail Tribune, April 14, 2010, at More on the Stream Machine; “The Atlas Group: About Bill Bednar,” at Bednar


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