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Showing posts from March, 2007

A letter to Erik Buell

(Erik Buell is a motorcycle designer and manufacturer. He is associated with Harley Davidson, but his motorcycles are very innovative and are very different from Harleys.)
Dear Erik,
Your designs have always caught my attention. The styling of Buell motorcycles have always appealed to me and your methods for putting the weight of the bike low are genius. Your placement of the exhaust system rocks.
You really got my attention with your introduction of the Ulysses. A couple of my riding friends have them and I was able to ride one on two different occasions. Great riding bike.
Too bad your bikes are sold at Harley dealerships. Most of the dealers in my area treat Buells like a red headed step-child that needs to be tucked away in the corner of the dealership - not an innovative bike worthy of center stage.
Harley dealers are less than excited about taking a BMW in trade. One salesman who was moderately excited about selling a 2006 Uly that was lanquishing on the sales floor last week, scoffe…

Here is some positive news.

It is too easy to fall into the trap of complaining all the time - especially about the "news" we receive on a national, regional, and local level.
Came across a couple of good news items in the last couple of days.
First and foremost an elected "official" who is willing to put his money where his mouth is. A Michigan congressman (I cannot find the article to get his name) wants to take a salary cut and wants others to do the same in order to help the State of Michigan out of its budgetary quagmire. Good on you, sir. I am going to keep looking to see if I can locate the story and get this guys name. I want to communicate with him directly.

On a more global note- the US and most of Europe are turning the tide on deforestsation according to the Food and Agriculture Organization, which is based in Rome and reports on such things. They stated that "careful forest management has had positive results" in the US and most of Europe. The article went on to state that…

Why I ride...and you should too.

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Riding motorcycles is a passion of mine. Got my first bike when I was 18 and rode for many years, took some time off and dove back into it 6 years ago.
I do not care what brand someone rides, just that you spend time in the saddle.
Practical reasons to ride:
Makes your commute fun. Great gas milage - my big bike, BMW Rockster 1150 cc gets 38 mpg and sometimes more. My "winter bike" is a 250cc dual sport antique Honda XL and it gets between 60 to 72 mpg.Small parking space needed.Lessen your impact on the environment.Makes your commute fun.I believe in the gospel of wearing a helmet and as much protective gear as possible.I believe in the gospel of riding a motorcycle all year round, even in Michigan. (See more such tomfoolery at www.yearroundriders.com )

Riffin' 'bout a militant Vegan.

This was one of the first pieces I had published and was PAID for when my writing efforts were resurrected from the ash heap a few years ago. Sold it to the New York Press, an alternative weekly in, oddly enough, NY City.
The story about the militant vegan is true. (Thought it was eating meat that made one militant.)
The story is here:
http://www.nypress.com/15/19/news&columns/first.cfm

Recycle Yourself (don't count on "them" to do it)

It seems almost every time I turn on the radio, TV news, or glance at a newspaper there is some negative mention of the poor environmental policies of the George W. Bush administration. Everyone seems all up in arms about the way the president and his staff seem to have such little regard for trees, our water, the air we breathe and the earth in general.
I am not here to defend W or his people, but I would like to paraphrase the saying about the one finger pointing at someone else still leaves three pointing back at you in order to issue this challenge: “Don’t point your environmental finger at the current administration unless all your other fingers are busy doing what ever you can do yourself to save the environment.”
It is real easy to poke fun at the lumber companies for their terrible deforestation practices, but using less paper and re-cycling the paper that we have used seems to be beyond our grasp.
We can bleat ad nauseum about factories spewing junk into the air, but our cries a…

Selling Rock Art for a buck.....or not.

Doors and SUVs - written in December 2005 (he is still holding out to my knowledge).

This time around I am going to explore the relationship between a rock drummer and a luxury car company. Sound like fun? Then read on.
What are they thinking over at the Cadillac division of General Motors? I am sure all of you are aware of the fact that GM is in a world of financial hurt. So can anybody tell me why on earth Cadillac wants to pay the three living members of the Doors 15 million bucks for the use of one of their songs: Break on Through (To the Other Side)?
A small article about this caught my attention because Doors drummer John Densmore said, “No” to that offer and to other offers including 4 million from Apple Computers for the use of another popular Doors song. Densmore could make more money for signing a few agreements to license songs than many small countries gross in a year, but he is holding out against the temptation to rent out what he describes as the “mysterious and magic” mus…

Are your electronic gizmos getting you down?

Convenient for whom?

I heard a commercial for a satellite dish system the other day. If you buy (rent?) their system you get some gizmo that will allow you to put TV shows on pause in order to finish watching them when you are done with dinner or a phone call.
Sounds really spiffy, but not for me thanks. I am glad the days of the VCR are gone because I could never figure out how to set the timer so it would record something while I was going to be gone. This got me thinking about all the “convenient” technology we have available to us now and I was wondering if things were really all that convenient.
My new cell phone (yup, the one that makes noises every time anything happens in or around it) has the added “convenience” of a camera. First off, I had no desire for a camera in my phone – I just wanted a phone that would work better than my old one. Well, if you want a phone that combines digital and analog technology so it works just about anywhere in Michigan, then it will have a camera …

High School sports should be about kids playing

I wrote this piece a couple of years ago, but my editor did NOT want to run the story. I work for the Advance Newspapers and they publish 13 editions of a weekly paper. Not the type of publication that wants to take on a tough subject and possibly offend the readership.

When did high school sports get so serious? How have we let it happen? Who is more to blame, the coaches or parents?
I’m not talking about good competitive rivalry here, but I would like to address the emphasis on winning at all costs. One of the latest examples to come to light in this neck of the woods is the possibility that a “parent and sports booster” gave rent free homes as an inducement to get some talented high school athletes into the school district for which he is a “sports booster”.
I am very much in favor of sports programs for kids. Sports can and do teach young people a lot of very important life lessons and skills. What exactly are the kids learning in the current win-at-all-costs atmosphere that prevails…

Cliff comes to the aid of Governor Granholm.

Our governor is concerned with the budget deficit and wants to know how to balance the budget. Of course any planning on her part includes increasing taxes or creating a new tax of 2% on services. I have a couple of ideas which may be more beneficial in the long run than further taxing Michigan residents.
THOUGHT: Why is it that those with a guaranteed income and fantastic health care can only think to solve their budget problems by transferring the weight to those who can least afford it - the taxpayers?
For starters, how about we make it mandatory that every state worker, including those who are retired, contribute or contribute more to the cost of their own health care? With the multitude of people on the state payroll, such a move could make a big difference.
Secondly, how about we make it mandatory that the legislators take a collective cut in pay? They voted themselves raises sufficient enough to make themselves the fourth highest paid electorate in the country a few years ago; may…

One very happy memory- Meeting Johnny Cash.

Julie and I watched Walk the Line (again) last night and it reminded me of the fact that I was fortunate enough to meet Johnny Cash and to shake his hand.
One of the best times of my life was working at a Country radio station in Lansing, Michigna: WITL 100.7. I worked there as an advertising salesperson. This was before the ownership of media was deregulated - back then WITL was a big family owned by a small group of investors. Some of the sales staff had been there over 10 years (rare in radio) and our sales manager, Bill Pacelli, had been there over 25 years.
The GM of the station was Greg Capogna and he was a frustrated musician, so he spent some serious money outfitting a house band for the station: The WITL-ometers. We had some great talent at the station, Johnny D played a mean lead guitar and A J Wilson was a good front man. I got hired in as the sound man after the second gig.
Because WITL was a powerhouse station in the area, Greg leveraged this fact into getting the band to op…

Cherokee nation revokes citizenship of ex-slaves.

Anyone else read this? The Cherokee Nation is revoking the citizenship of descendents of some black skinned Americans that the Cherokees used to own as slaves. Very interesting information. How many people knew that Cherokees once owned black skinned slaves? I knew that some red skinned Americans took other red skinned Americans as slaves, but up until today did not know they also ownen black skinned Americans.
(Anybody hitting up the Cherokee Nation for financial restitution for these slaves?)
Let me assure you that I do not harbor ill will towards Native Americans. By all accounts it looks like they certainly got a raw deal. However, I do object to the swing of the peerspective pendulum. Sure, it is silly to think of history in terms of movie and book-based images of the wonderful white man working out his manifest destiny at the expense of the Native Americans.
However it is equally silly to refuse to remember that Native Americans could be very tough on each other. Some (notice I use…

Might as well jump right in.

Maybe I just need to quit listening to NPR whilst I prep in the morning. What a disappointment to learn this morning that Nancy Pelosi wants to appoint Rep. William Jefferson to the Homeland Security Committee. C'mon Nancy!
For those of you who missed it, the honorable Wm Jefferson is a member of Congress who is currently under investigation. Remember? - the authorities (IIRC it was the FBI) found some 90 thousand bucks in cash his freezer among other things.
Mr Jefferson was wisely asked to step down from any committees last year when things started to get smelly and now they want to put him in a position to oversee Homeland Security?
Izzit any wonder voter turnout is so low? This kind of thing insults the intellegence of the American voter - no matter what side of the aisle he or she supports. Guy gets busted with 90k in cash in his fridge. Does he lose his high paying job? Nope. In fact, the people of his district recently re-elected him. Have mercy.