Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Time keeps on slippin....

Some time has passed. I've been gone, but I haven't forgotten. I've been a bit busy living the best year of my entire life, but it's no excuse. Look for a highlights reel of 2010 starting soon. Then, maybe some revelations on some of the things I've learned this year. Back in the saddle, we ride, El Guapo.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Chew on it

Life is a pain in the ass. But life also has pizza, wine, friends, craft beer, people who cheer you and love you, ice cream, sunny days, coffee, music, laughter, and joy. To name a few. So I guess the pain is worth it in the end.

I'm throwing it out there, Universe. Throw something back - preferably not a curve ball. A home run would be nice.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Mem'ries, CNG Style

I've been thinking a lot about my college years recently, and don't know why. Maybe it's because things seemed so much simpler then and the hardest decision I had to make on a daily basis was "Which of the three bars in my college town am I drinking at tonight?" Maybe it's because I have been going through old junk, trying to clean out and find a home for cards, mementos, jokes, etc. that I want to keep, but maybe don't have a daily place in my life anymore, simply because I don't have the room for it.

When I moved into my off-campus house my junior year, we had a town person as an across-the-street neighbor. He was a special case to put it delicately, and really grooved to his own drummer. I had a nice big porch at my house, so on our first night in the house, a group of friends gathered on the porch for some drinking and socializing. We soon realized that the man who lived across the street was flashing us through his window. It never happened again, and in retrospect, maybe he wasn't really naked, but it became lore, and for the next two years of college, my friends and I referred to him as "Crazy Naked Guy" (aka CNG).

For the last two years of college, my friend Jason and I had a radio show on WUSO 89.1 FM (thank you Springfield!). We held the 10PM-12AM slot once a week. We brought our humor into the show, and instituted a "Top 11 at 11" List, similar to Letterman's Top 10. Because CNG was a fixture around our part of campus, especially on Friday and Saturday nights when we partied, we tried to work CNG into our Top 11 list weekly. In fact, many of our lists centered around him.

I bring this up because I found three lists the other day. They weren't as funny as I remember, but it was fun to share them with my co-host and wax nostalgia. We also generally winged these lists on the show and put about five minutes thought into them. It's funny the things we focus on when we don't have much to worry about, and I need to remember that now - a little laughter and joy goes a long way, no matter how stupid it is. And long live CNG....his window-driving, Esiason-jersey-wearing, football-throwing self.

Monday, January 19, 2009

My Country Tis of Thee

We're on the cusp of history. And we, as a country can do better. We can be better. We will be better.

I think my favorite part of Obama's vision for a better America is his call to service. In the last year or so, I've realized my life is not as fulfilling as it could be, and I think it's because I had not taken the time to volunteer. I finally started doing it (granted, only about 6 hours a month because of my busy work schedule), but it felt good to give back. I think this is important part of the reason we've lost our way. We've become materialistic and anti-social, living in McMansions and gated neighborhoods and sprawling suburbs with little interaction with our neighbors and community. I think the internet has helped bring together, as is obvious from this past Presidential election, and I think it will continue to move us all closer together.

Only time will tell what this Admininstration will bring, but it has already brought us one thing - a common excitement and devotion to our country that this nation hasn't seen in decades. Let's make it work for the greater good.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Save America

Since my uncle put it so eloquently, I'm cribbing it from him and pasting verbatim. He's a lifer at Ford, 33+ years and born and raised in Dearborn, MI...the family grew up in the house where Henry Ford's chauffer used to live. For all my own qualms and misgivings about the American auto industry (I, too, have said "they've done it to themselves"), I think it is ABSURD to let a homegrown, American-as-America-is industry die like this, especially when we bailed out Wall St and insurers who knowingly made bad decisions and kept doing it until the bottom fell out.

America is Cars, America built this industry, and I think America is willing to (finally, hopefully) bring it into the modern era. Please don't let the auto industry die. Otherwise, I really don't know what we'll do. It will touch every single sector even more than the financial industry did - the ramifications could be worse on a real level than the banking crisis.

But perhaps the more pressing question, is, how did we come to be in such dire straits in the first place? Don't have an answer for that, and will save my opinions for later.

Friends and family,

I'm not much of a political activist, but I am writing today to ask for your help. This week, Congress will be asked to vote on a financial assistance package for American automotive manufacturers that will allow GM, in particular, to continue to operate. I've been frustrated by the lack of, or misinformation being spewed by politicians and talk show hosts over the past several days. I am writing to give you the facts, and ask for your help. If you agree, please forward this e-mail to your friends, and please write your congressman or senator expressing your support. (E-mail addresses can be found at www.congress.org.) I am particularly disturbed by how many Republicans have made this a partisan issues. Most have not bothered to learn the facts, and are strictly voting along party lines. Even those from Ohio, which is surprising given the manufacturing base there. So, here are some things to consider:

  • Some say we should let GM and other manufacturers go into bankruptcy so they can fix their problems. That simply won't happen. Recent customer research indicates consumers will not buy cars from a bankrupt manufacturer, so sales will dry up. If sales dry up, GM goes bankrupt, then their suppliers go bankrupt. If their suppliers go bankrupt, Ford (and Chrysler) can no longer build cars, and it goes bankrupt as well. The manufacturers will not come out the other side -- they will eventually be dissolved. Independent studies estimate that if GM goes bankrupt, the ripple through the industry will result in no cars being built (by domestics or Japanese transplants) for at least a year. Imagine what that will do for the economy.
  • The impact to the economy will be felt broadly. 1 in 10 Americans are employed in jobs dependent on the auto industry. This includes suppliers, dealers, nearby restaurant owners, etc. Local and national government stand to lose billions in tax revenue, which will affect all Americans. In addition, the government will have to take on unemployment, pension guarantees, and health care for all those former automotive retirees and employees. Bloomberg News estimates the cost to the American economy will be $200 Billion in the first three years. This will be funded by all taxpayers, or America goes deeper in debt. $25 Billion in loans seems a small price to pay to avoid a $200 Billion near term cost.
  • Critics say the American Auto industry "deserves to die", and a loan is "throwing good money after bad". Really?
  • They say we haven't invested in new technology. Really? Next month, Ford launches its 3rd Hybrid, which gets 6 mpg better than the comparably-sized Toyota Camry. In one year, GM will launch the Chevy Volt, the first plug-in hybrid available to mainstream consumers.
  • They say "they make cars Americans don't want". Really? GM and Ford combined sales continue to significantly exceed Toyota and Honda combined.
  • They make big gas guzzlers. Really? Yes, we make big vehicles customers need! The contractor who built your house needed a truck. So did the farmer who harvested your food, or raised livestock. So did the plumber, the landscaper, the carpet layer. Ambulances? Built from Ford chassis. Delivery vans? Not from the Japanese. And in segments where the Japanese do make big trucks and SUVs, the domestics get better fuel economy.
  • American manufacturers have poor quality. Really? Consumer Reports and JD Power both have confirmed Ford's quality is now on par with Honda and Toyota.
  • American cars get poor fuel economy. Really? GM and Ford are best in class or tied with best in many vehicles categories. Further evidence: Ford will introduce the 2010 Fusion this week that get 2-3 mpg better than Camry and Accord.
  • American manufacturers have not done enough to restructure. Don't know. What I do know is that we have let go approximately 40%of our work force in the last couple years, have reduced costs by $5 Billion a year, and have given up pay raises and matching 401K donations for the future. Of course more can always be done.
  • Auto Workers receive unfairly high benefits and health care. This has changed a lot over the years, with dramatic reductions in benefits. Since the last contract, it is estimated UAW worker benefits are now in-line with transplant workers. And while we may have paid more than typical benefits in the past, it kept the cost of healthcare, retirement, unemployment, etc for these employees off the government's (taxpayer's) bill. The Americans don't have a plan to improve. I can't speak for any others, but at Ford, we will be leveraging our global vehicles to bring our best product line-up to the US that I've seen, and our plan allows us to make money, even on small cars.
  • What will the elimination of American automotive manufacturer's mean to national defense? We can't be a superpower without a manufacturing base. The automotive industry and its suppliers are the backbone of manufacturing in this country. If they are eliminated, along with the tool and die makers, engineers, laborers, etc. that go with them, who will build our tanks/humvees/guns/planes/missiles if we need them in a war? Will we ask China? Korea? Eastern Europe? What if they are who we are fighting?
  • And last, beware of personal agendas -- Some of the congressmen who are the most strongly opposed to providing aid stand to benefit personally. Clearly the State of Michigan representatives are voicing support, and all recognize Detroit stands to benefit. However, a Republican Senator from Alabama, who has been one of the most vocal against the package, has Mercedes, Hyundai, and Honda plants in his state. If the domestics go under, the foreign companies in his state stand to benefit. This is something he failed to mention on Meet the Press as he trashed the American manufacturers.
  • Have we made mistakes in the past? Absolutely. Should we have been quicker to adapt? Yes. And, one could argue we (GM/Ford) are still not doing everything we can to improve our competitiveness. If so, provisions could be placed in the funding to drive further improvements. Suggesting that funding not be given to "teach us a lesson" is a disgrace. Even if that were true, given the state of the nation's economy, now is not the time to let the industry fail.
  • The American automotive industry needs your help to secure a $25 Billion loan, not a handout. AIG, just one insurance company, has already been given $150 Billion and counting. The U.S. spends $25 Billion in a few months in Iraq. Is $25 Billion really too much to ask to save the future of an entire industry?
  • Given the complexity of issues faced by congress, they cannot be expected to be knowledgeable on every issue. They should, however, be expected to be open minded and willing to learn the facts. Please encourage your congressman/senator to do so, and voice support for the package if you agree.

Thank you for taking the time to read my point of view

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Michael Pollan is the Smartest Man Alive

And this, my friends, is why I made the decision to eat as little meat as possible. Michael Pollan opened my eyes. He is my guru. Try to read The Omnivore's Dilemma and NOT change. I dare you.

No matter how green you are, if you eat meat like the average American (190 lbs a year, according to the above article, ick!), you're contributing to global warming. I'll go hug a tree while you try and shop at your local farmer's market.

I made veggie chili 2 weeks ago consisting of come canned tomatoes and sauce, and 10 other veggies fresh from the farmer's market. I have to say, it's probably the tastiest chili I've ever had. I'm not a strict vegatarian. But I do limit myself...and would rather eat a slice of bacon or piece of chicken when it comes from a locally-raised source.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Peer pressure made me post

I got a few jabs this weekend from the Kopelmans at my lack of posting, so I've been kicking a few things around in the ol' noodle for a bit. In no particular order:

1) I saw a dude riding a bike and smoking a cigarette. The ash was about 4 inches long. That can't be an enjoyable way to smoke, but I guess that guy was desperate for some nicotine. I don't know if this is worse or better than those bikers on cell phones. Bikers plural. I want to toss a stick into their spokes. Do they realize how douchey they look?

2) Today waiting for the bus, I saw a rather elderly lady who was dressed to the nines in her wool hat with brim, sharp tweed jacket and....leather pants. Yes, folks, an easily 70+ year-old-lady in leather pants. On Michigan Ave. Also waiting for the bus.

3) I think ugly freaky people are the new black. They're everywhere. I'm sick of them.

4) I'm turning into an old person sooner than I thought. I prefer low-sodium foods now, especially Trader Joe's Roasted Red Pepper soup. mmmmm.

5) What is with that crazy-ass wiry black hair that grows out of the middle of my neck? It usually comes out of hiding once every 2 months, but one day it's not there, and the next day it's about 6 inches long. Where does it come from? Does it grow internally and break through the skin? Is my esophagus hairy?

6) Entourage has jumped the shark. However, thank god for Mad Men and Little Britain USA. It's brought Sunday night back to a happy time.

7) I love yoga. It's amazing. And I have arm definition again because of it. Woo!