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.

Continue reading

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.

Continue reading

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…

Continue reading

Seller Beware: The Response from eBay

A victory of sorts, but the issue remains.

2016-10-23-14-39-33

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. 

Continue reading

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!

 

Continue reading

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

Flint’s Water Problems are the Symptom, Not the Disease

Article in Belt Magazine – Dispatches from the Rust Belt

These past few months, the news has been full of stories about the water contamination in Flint, Michigan. As a native of the city with family and friends who still live there, this story has been particularly painful. The reality of the situation, however, is that even if Fiji water flowed from Flint faucets, the residents there would still be suffering from decades of neglect and disinvestment. My recent article, published in Belt (as in “Rust Belt”) Magazine, chronicles Flint’s decline in personal terms, and describes what must be done to reestablish Flint to what it once was – a model city.

To read the article in Belt Magazine, click on the link below.

Source: Flint’s Water Problems are the Symptom, Not the Disease | Belt Magazine | Dispatches From The Rust Belt

To get a PDF file of the original article text, click here.

Quelle Chance! Hamilton Tickets!!!


While in NYC yesterday, I decided to try to see “Hamilton,” the Broadway phenom. After walking to the theater and standing in the “cancellations” line for an hour, a young lady came up and offered two tickets for $560 each. The guy next to me (Drew) and I negotiated her down, and outbid another guy in line, and ended up paying $310 each. Yeah, crazy, I know. But it was a bargain! Our seats were 4th row orchestra, and we could almost smell the actors!

The originator, writer, composer, and lead actor in the show was Lin-Manuel Miranda. I immediately recognized him from somewhere. Just before intermission, I realized that he was the star of one of Nadiyah and my favorite Sesame Street episodes! It’s the one where Big Bird decides to move to a new habitat. See the trailer here: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=B33uEhlt8wA

The show was amazing. What a day! What a lucky, lucky day.

2015: A Year of Anniversaries

2015 was a year of anniversaries – some happy, some sad, some bittersweet. As each anniversary came and went this year, I made a mental note, but didn’t otherwise recognize it. Doing so distracted me from the flow of daily events, and besides that, it made me feel old. However, sitting here on the eve of the eve of a new year, I feel like collecting and recognizing these anniversaries. If you were a part of any of them, you know how special they were. Continue reading