Thursday, June 14, 2018

So long, and thanks for all the fish stocking.

A bit of news from me -- I've decided not to run for another term on the Wolverine Lake Village Council this fall. Twelve years as our Village President has been a good run, but it's time to let somebody else pick up the gavel.

I didn't run for council in the first place to become El Presidente for Life. When I joined our council, our village faced some serious financial challenges. I thought I could help us work our way through them. Thanks to a huge amount of work by a ton of people: staff, boards, volunteers, and my fellow council people, we made it through the hard times and emerged better than ever. There aren't enough thank-yous in all the world to cover everybody who helped us get to this point.

I'm really happy with where the village is right now. The finances are rock solid and the leadership team is strong. It's a good time to bring in some new energy and some new ideas to the council table.

Democracy is participatory. From potholes to police and from fish stocking to financing sewers, you'll find there's a heck of a lot more that goes into making a municipality work than you ever imagined. And you'll find that there are a lot more great people making it work than you ever imagined.

The deadline for filing to run for council is July 24. Nominating petitions and an affidavit of identity must be returned to Commerce Township by 4 pm on that date. You can pick up an information packet and petition at Village Hall or the Commerce Township Clerk’s office.

Have at it folks.

Meanwhile, what's next for me? I have no idea. I'll be around. I'm not disappearing. I tend to get involved in things, so I'm sure something will come along. In the meantime, there might just be a few extra naps and a bit more time on the ol' pontoon boat.

So long, and thanks for all the fish stocking.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Don't Listen to the Killjoys, Tesla in Space Edition

A friend of mine sent along an article bemoaning yesterday's SpaceX rocket test in which they shot a Tesla Roadster into space. The articles premise was that it was horrible to spend that sort of money when there are still umpteen zillion other problems in the world. I thought I'd capture my reply....


Don't listen to the killjoys, they're wrong and they're the same people who have bleated on about this topic since the before John Glenn sat on top of a rocket and got shot into orbit. So here's a rant, in nine parts:

1. Space exploration -- both human and unmanned -- is important. Yes, it pushes the bounds of pure scientific knowledge about the origins of the planets and the universe and our Earth. But it also makes a big difference here on Earth where we've learned important things about our impact on the environment, global warming, agricultural improvements, biology, and mundane things like the GPS systems that let us get from point A to point B with a minimum of fuss.

2. SpaceX the company is about reducing the cost of shooting things into Earth orbit and into deep space. Yes, that comes with a dose of slick marketing, but the real measure of its success is cost/kg for orbital insertion.

3. The Falcon Heavy rocket or an equivalent is a necessary tool for shooting heavy things into Earth orbit or lighter things into deep space.

4. You gotta test rockets. You don't put a real payload on a test rocket. So sticking a $100,000 Tesla on the end of that rocket was every bit as scientifically valid as anything else they were going to do. A joyless lump of concrete would've served as well, I suppose. Would killjoy columnist have been happier about it?

5. Exploration and pushing boundaries is fun. It should be. And exploration and pushing boundaries is a necessary part of improving the human condition.

6. That $90 million didn't get shot into space. It got spent here on earth employing a variety of scientists, engineers, construction folk, etc. Those people then spent their salaries on other things, including taxes that could have been spent to fight poverty, hunger, etc. That's how the economy works. And yeah, we should spend more of our taxes on stuff like that. But economic activity and spending isn't a zero-sum game. Generating economic productivity creates more

7. Yeah, it was a nice jolt of publicity for Tesla cars. The truth is that SpaceX probably ain't gonna save the world. But stuff like the improved Tesla batteries and Tesla solar roof tiles might help move that world-saving needle, and selling cars helps to finance that stuff, too. Economies of scale lower production costs.

8. Some days my liberal amigos drive me nuts. Sometimes it's okay to say, "That was ridiculous, but kinda fun," without making a joyless lecture out of it. There's a lot of horrible stuff in the world. We still need to enjoy the good things. Appreciating the good is part of what makes us human.

9. Heavy Metal rules!!!!


Monday, January 8, 2018

Winter Poem

I'd like to take some time to pander
To the hearty soul, the Michigander.
When winter comes I want to flee.
My neighbor folk are not like me.

They cheer the flurries stacked in feet,
They dream of ice and snow and sleet,
And when it seems too cold to go
They run outside and play in snow.

What is this bizarre predilection?
North by north is their direction.
Arctic cold is in their dreams.
They've lost their freaking minds it seems.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Things to work on in 2018

Wondering what I'm planning for 2018? Well, so am I. I wouldn't go so far as to call these "resolutions", but here's what I have in mind:

Taking better care of myself physically -- I made nice progress on my back and my weight last year, and I feel better for it. There's still more work to do, though. Hitting age 50 made me aware that right now I am defining the arc of my declining years. I'd like that to be as good as possible.

Mental reinvigoration -- As many of you have observed, I got pretty worn down the last few years. As I've worked my way back from that case of mental burnout I've noticed that I've gotten a bit stale. I need to learn new things this year.

More rest, more nature, more physical exercise -- I've gotten into some pretty bad habits on these fronts. I'm going to try to rebuild better habits: earlier bedtimes, more time outside, more time moving my body. Less couch potato lifestyle.

Rebuild my attention span -- more books, less media. My job does a fine job of eroding my attention span. I don't need to accelerate that erosion in my off-time, too.

Less social media, more socializing in person -- despite this post. Oh, I'm not disappearing from FB or anything like that. But the last couple of years have felt a bit isolating. Mostly I think I've let my inner introvert take charge as I became worn down and tired. I'm going to make a conscious effort to reconnect with some folks in person this year. And I'm going to make a conscious effort to check in on FB and the Twitterverse less often this year.

And that's it. This all seems reasonably do-able as I write it out. For the most part it's just a matter of shifting priorities and tamping down some bad habits. I don't expect a revolution on any of those fronts. Just improvement. We'll see how it goes.

Good luck to all of you with whatever you plan to work on in 2018!

Sunday, November 12, 2017

For Sale: 1972 MGB, Needs Work, $1,500 Firm

A friend of mine is looking for a good home for his 1972 MGB. The good news is that it runs and drives. The bad news is that it will need substantial rust repair in the very near future. This will be a project car before it's a good driver again and the low price of $1,500 firm reflects that.


  • 1972 MGB, runs and drives but needs work.
  • One owner since 1995
  • Mileage unknown, but only 5,000 miles since engine rebuild in 1997.
  • Four-speed transmission (no overdrive).
  • Needs rust replacement of rockers, frame rails, plus some repair in  fenders and floor panels.
  • Price is $1,500 firm.

Here are the details:

The good:

  • Engine rebuilt in 1997. Has double-row timing chain and valve seats hardened for unleaded gasoline. Starts easily.
  • Mileage unknown (Speedometer/Odometer was not working when first acquired, though this has since been fixed.)
  • Only about 5,000 miles driven since 1995, but no long periods of inactivity in that time.
  • Gauges all work.
  • Includes tonneau cover, timing light, dwellmeter, original jack, stone guards for the headlights, a tool for balancing the SU carburetors, and a very well used Haynes manual.
  • Seat covers and interior in decent shape.

Improvements made since 1995

  • Engine rebuild
  • New front bumper
  • Mallory dual-point distributor
  • New starter
  • Radiator rebuilt
  • Electric fan
  • Delco alternator conversion
  • New gas tank 8-9 years ago
  • New gas tank sending unit, Spring 2017
  • New ignition switch, 2015
  • New convertible top in late 90s. Still watertight, though the windows have some fogging.
  • New trunk lock

The Bad:

  • The paint is a classic Earl Scheib "Porsche Red" job over the original red. Looks okay from a distance. Not so great up close.
  • The wiring is best described as suspect. At a minimum it could use substantial cleaning of the contacts and fixing/repair of some connections. A fresh start with a new wiring harness may be easiest.
  • Windshield wipers need to be hooked up.
  • Heater control valve works, though the heater itself is not currently hooked up.
  • Tires are 15 years old. They hold air, but not recommended for driving. Spare tire doesn't hold air.
  • Passenger window crank works, but it needs a bit of help getting up and down.
  • Shocks need rebuild/replacement.
  • Brakes work, but pull to the right a bit. Hoses have been replaced within the last 20 years, but the system should be inspected and may need some parts replaced or rebuit.
  • There's a bit of oil leaking from engine and rear differential, but not bad.
  • The worst item is the rust underneath. There is substantial rust in the rockers and the frame rails and they will need to be replaced. there are also some small spots of rust in the fenders, and at a minimum they will need some patching. Make no mistake. If you buy this B you will need to do some cutting and welding before you have a good, roadworthy car.

Price: $1,500 firm.

Leave a message below if you're interested and we'll sort out contact info. Thanks!

Video: It runs!



Engine bay:


Trunk, including some of the throw-ins:

And now what we call "the full disclosure photos," showing the rust.

The fenders are generally solid, but there are are a few small bubbles and holes:

Here's the worst of it, the frame rails and rockers. As you can see, they'll need complete replacement:

(What looks like a bend in the frame rail above is just an illusion from the fish-eye from my iPhone lens. Sadly, the rust is real.)

The floor pans look okay at a glance, but given the state of the rockers and rails I wouldn't be surprised if they need some work, too:

Front suspension:

Rear suspension and exhaust:

Friday, November 3, 2017

From the Joy of #IndictmentDay to Dr. Hans Zarkov Shouting a Warning over the Rocket Engines

I know I promised pretty pictures before another Trump post, but it's been a busy month on other fronts and I do have a bit to say on This Week in Trump.

Here, have a pretty picture of a sunset and we'll move on to business:

Special Counsel Bob Mueller rolled out his first indictments on Monday. That was sooner than I expected to see anything. Most of the indictments involved Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his associate Rick Gates.The charges were unsurprising for anybody who has followed along and included conspiracy to launder money, conspiracy against the United States, being an unregistered agent of a foreign principal, false and misleading Foreign Agent Registration Act statements.

There was also a surprise baked in, the first guilty plea from a campaign adviser named George Papadopoulos, who pled guilty to lying to the FBI to cover up the Trump campaign's interactions with Russia during the campaign. It was a plea bargain in exchange for becoming a proactive cooperating witness in the investigation, which many legal experts have interpreted to mean that he's been wearing a wire since his arrest earlier this year.

Now we're getting somewhere.

The information in the indictments and the testimony of former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page before the House Intelligence Committee makes it clear that among other things Attorney General Jeff Sessions perjured himself before Congress when he denied any knowledge of Russian connections to the Trump campaign. Also, Trump campaign co-chair and adviser withdrew his nomination to be the USDA's chief scientist after he was tied to the indictments. The indictments also refer to as-yet unindicted coconspirators.

There's more to come.

The general sense of things is that this was an opening salvo from Mueller, an invitation to cooperate and cop a plea (Papadopoulos) to a relatively light charge, or to continue to lie and face the hammer (Manafort and Gates.) In general, I suspect that's correct.

The response from the White House has been predictable: a storm of diversion and lies, headed by an endless barrage of tweets from Trump that was only slowed by the delightful eleven minutes during which his Twitter account was deactivated by a Twitter employee on his or her last day on the job. (Truly, that was the most joyous event for #Resistance Twitter since the Night of the Covfefe.) In the midst of this week's chaos the US House Republicans unveiled their tax plan, which can best be described as The No Billionaire Left Behind Act of 2017.

Things are accelerating. Things are falling apart.

I'd still rate us as Watergate Defcon Status Two, but I can see Status One from here. I'm not quite sure when we hit Status One. It might be when Mueller starts indicting Trump family members, as now seems inevitable. Or Mueller may even drop a bill of potential impeachment charges with the US House.

If I had to bet on the mechanics I'd bet that Sessions gets forced out for repeatedly perjuring himself. That gives Trump an opportunity to appoint a new Attorney General who doesn't have to recuse himself on the Russian issue. The job interview will consist of one question, "Will you fire Bob Mueller?" The first person willing to answer "Yes" to Trump in private and "No" to the Senate confirmation hearing will get the job and pull the trigger. By then the 2018 midterms will be looming and even the shameless Congressional GOP will have to convene impeachment hearings.

Or with Trump looking increasingly unhinged every day perhaps he does something truly loopy and Pence rounds up a batch of cabinet secretaries to invoke the 25th Amendment. I'd try to come up with scenarios in which Trump voluntarily resigns, but right now he's increasingly desperate to pressure the justice system to lay off, so I don't see him giving up any of the leverage he has as President.

However it happens, this ride is going to get crazier. For the most part I'm just hoping that Trump doesn't drag us into a war somewhere in an attempt to rally the base.

It's bad. It's going to get worse. We're not yet in the end-game. Things are moving quickly, so as Dr. Hans Zarkov put it in Flash Gordon, "FOR GOD'S SAKE! STRAP YOURSELVES DOWN!!!"

Monday, September 11, 2017

The Trump Grind Grinds On; Plus, the Return of Photoblogging on the Ol' Patio Boat.

Just a quick update.

Yeah, I haven't posted on Trump since July. In part because it's been a busy couple of months, but mostly it's because I think we're settled in for the long haul. I doubt there'll be anything truly newsy amidst the noise -- and oh, there's lots of noise! -- until Special Counsel Bob Mueller issues whatever it is that he's going to issue, be it a big report, indictments, etc. For now, Mueller seems settled in for the long haul with a staff full of veteran money-laundering investigators and an arrangement with the New York Attorney General that seems designed to block the potential for Presidential pardons..

In the meantime, just about everything -- personnel shuffles, Congressional squabbles, salacious details -- is just background noise. Trump is an awful, incompetent president. In a way, I guess that's good because his incompetence may keep him from accomplishing a few terrible things. But his awfulness won't seem very good if we do accidentally end up in a nuclear war with North Korea. Mostly I'm just hoping that enough competence still remains at places like the Department of Defense and FEMA to get us through whatever comes up.

So here we are, churning away at Current Watergate Defcon Status: DEFCON 2, like a mega-hurricane circling in the middle of the Atlantic, waiting for a steering current to move us along.

In the meantime, the ol' Patio Boat has been horribly devoid of fun photos of fun places. And there has been some personal fun along the way. Monique and I took a trip to Tobago with my folks. We also hauled a couple of my nieces out to Wyoming to view the eclipse with my brother Mike, his family, and my folks. And there were lots and lots of cool cars everywhere this summer.

I've finally started to organize up a few of the photos, so look for some photoblogging coming soon to the ol' Patio Boat.

In the meantime, here, have a solar eclipse: