Will It Explode? (Part 1)

In early 1983, thirty-four years ago, I got my first “serious” personal computer, a Heathkit H-89 all-in-one machine. I built it from scratch, which means that I soldered all the components on the circuit boards and assembled all of the subsystems into the completed unit. I bought the computer to help with the business I intended to start – Telecom Analysis Systems, Inc. (TAS).  It was the tool I used to write and edit our business plan, and to develop and test the hardware and firmware of our product prototypes. In those days, the H-89 worked like a charm, and never gave me or my co-founders, Steve Moore and Charles Simmons, a bit of trouble.

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A Jewel, Made in Flint

Last Fall, in conjunction with the Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium in Flint, I had the distinct pleasure of hearing the music of Mama Sol, who performed at our Matrix Networking Reception. Now that was a real treat. I can’t say that I’m a fan of rap music in general, but there are a few artists whose work transcends the particular genre they happen to operate in. In the rap arena, my favorite example is Public Enemy. In R&B, the quintessential example would be Stevie Wonder. Mama Sol is one of those unique artists who capture and reflect their time and place in this world. She does so in a way that convinces you that she feels her poetry in her bones, in her SOUL.  Her poetry can simultaneously convey sweetness, familiarity, anger, and inspiration. The fact that she is of, by, and for Flint, Michigan is really special, but her music is by no means limited or limiting. Last Fall, I called her Flint’s poet laureate, and I was not exaggerating. 

If you want to be inspired, check out Mama Sol’s latest, Go O.F.F., or the earlier Inside Out. Let me know what you think.

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Kishna and I had the pleasure of meeting Mama Sol in conjunction with last Fall’s Urban Entrepreneurship Symposium in Flint.

Road Trip 2017

It’s time to start planning for the 2017 Road Trip. I look forward to seeing more of this country (and a bit of Canada) up close and personal. I really like experiencing new places and meeting interesting people. Probably more than anything, I treasure the opportunity to think and reflect and listen to audiobooks during the hours and hours of windshield time.

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Unexpected Reunion with a Mentor

Jim Spaniola and me at French Laundry Fenton, more than 45 years after our time in the Ceramic Circuits Lab.

More than forty-five years ago, I began my college education at General Motors Institute (now Kettering University) in Flint, Michigan. This was back in Flint’s glory days, when world-class industrial production as well as ground-breaking research took place right in the midst of the city. My co-op sponsor was the AC Spark Plug Division of General Motors. My first assignment at AC was in the Engineering Research Center, which was located at the corner of Averill Avenue and Davison Road. I felt lucky and excited to have what seemed like a plum first assignment.

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2016: A Personal Pictorial Review

2016: Another Year in the Can

It is hard to find the words to describe all that has transpired in 2016. I have so much to say, but where shall I begin? In many ways, for me and my family, 2016 brought many new accomplishments and blessings, but as we exit the year, I feel an enormous sense of foreboding and concern. I’ll have more to say about that later, in a different post.

I admire my friends who have written eloquent essays and family updates at the end of each year.  I can’t match what they have done, so I’ve decided to share some pictures and just a few words to capture some of the highlights of my life in 2016. If you were connected to any of these happenings in any way, I thank you for sharing the journey.  Here we go…

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Seller Beware: The Response from eBay

A victory of sorts, but the issue remains.

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It has now been more than a month since I was scammed out of my iPhone 6, as described in my earlier post on the subject.  I’ve had several calls and email exchanges with eBay “customer service” agents and supervisors who have done absolutely nothing but say that nothing can or would be done.  Well, just this morning, as I was spreading the last of my blackberry jam on my English muffin top at a local restaurant, I received a call from an 801 exchange – UTAH!  A real, live eBay exec by the name of Danny Faust was on the other end of the line.  He said that as a result of my blog post and the subsequent article on the eCommerceBytes blog, executives at eBay had taken a look at my case, and that as a result, they determined the following:

  1. The address provided by my “buyer” was actually a freight forwarder, which should  have prima facia voided the eBay “Money Back Guarantee.”
  2. The “buyer” should have provided the picture of the device and shipping box that I requested after the “buyer” submitted their claim.
  3. The fact that the return item (the piece of crap credit-card scanner, remember?)  was drop-shipped from Texas rather than from the address my phone was shipped to should have raised flags.

The result of the above, per Mr. Faust, was that eBay was refunding the $328.00 payment that they froze and subsequently removed from my PayPal account. 

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Seller Beware! EBay Policies Facilitate THEFT of Your Property

I found out the hard way that EBay is facilitating the theft of items people post for sale on their site.

I just had an experience with EBay that I find extremely discouraging, and the result is that I will no longer be posting any items for sale on EBay. EBay’s “Money Back Guarantee program” protects unscrupulous, scam “buyers” by returning their money even if they falsely claim that they received a damaged item, or even that they didn’t receive the item. The seller is left holding the bag, or in my own case, holding a bogus piece of junk.  Something must be done to address this outrageous situation, before many, many more occasional EBay sellers are scammed. In the meantime, my recommendation is that you do not post anything for sale on EBay that you are not willing to give away!

 

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Flint’s toxic water crisis was 50 years in the making

When I was writing my recent article “Flint’s Water Problems are the Symptom, not the Disease” I ran across this LA Times op-ed piece by Andrew Highsmith, a U-M grad who now teaches history at UC Irvine. I found it interesting because Andrew views the Flint crisis from an objective historical perspective, and cites specific government policies that led to the city’s demise. Andrew has also written a book, “Demolition Means Progress,” which details how the urban renewal campaigns carried out in Flint resulted in a more divided and impoverished city.

See the article summary below, and click on the link to view the entire article on the LA Times web site.

Flint waterIn the fall of 1966, African American activists from the impoverished North End of Flint, Michigan, turned out en masse for a series of hearings on racial inequality sponsored by the state’s Civil Rights Commission. One of those who testified, Ailene Butler, drew links between the segregationist policies that had created the North End and the corporate practices that had immiserated its inhabitants.

Source: Flint’s toxic water crisis was 50 years in the making