Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year!

The best laid plans of mice and men...I fully intended to blog about my trip to Texas however for "whatever" reason known to only God and computer tech people my wireless was not able to connect to my friend's wireless.

Oh I know I could have used theirs but the set up just wasn't right and well I was on vacation & fun got in the way.

And now its New Years Eve.

And I really do love the celebration of a new year. New beginnings, new hope for the coming year. Too many including myself, 2008 was a difficult year. But the new year looms ahead with possibilities and hope. And I am believing that 2009 is going to be my year!

2009 is the year I will sell my house
2009 is the year I get on the "open road" full time RVing, exploring the most beautiful country in the world.
2009 is the year that these goals, dreams will come true!

2009 is going to be your year too!


"Auld Lang Syne" is a Scottish poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to the tune of a traditional folk song (Roud # 6294). It is well known in many English-speaking countries and is often sung to celebrate the start of the new year at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Day.
The song's (Scots) title may be translated into English literally as "old long since", or more idiomatically, "long long ago"[1] or "days gone by".

Auld Lang Syne
Robert Burns

Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet For auld lang syne

We twa hae run aboot the braes
And pou'd the gowans fine; we've wander'd mony
a weary footSin' auld lang syne
We two hae paidled i' the burn,Frae mornin' sun till dine;
But seas between us braid hae roar'd Sin' auld lang syne
And here's a hand, my trusty friend,
And gie's a hand o' thine;
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet For auld lang syne
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot
and days of auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear, For auld lang syne,
We'll take a cup o' kindness yet For auld lang syne

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Leaving on a Jet Plane..

Tomorrow heading for Christmas in Texas, McKinney to be exact. Just north of Plano that is north of Dallas. Friends of mine Stefany, hubby Matt and their three beautiful kids, Noelle, Grant and Loren moved from Kalamazoo area to Texas just a couple of months ago. New job for hubby, new house, new life! Exciting! But still missing family and friends this 1st Christmas so DaDuh me to the rescue! And I am really looking forward to a much needed vacation and 1st trip ever to the great state of Texas!

So check back, planning on doing some "live blogging" about my adventures in Texas.

Merry Christmas and YEEHAW!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Supporting Our Troops

At this holy time of year, it seems right to pause and remember those who sacrificed for religious liberty in America...AS WE FREELY CELEBRATE OUR SAVIOR'S BIRTH

With the help of a Twitter friend, IndyEnigma I have complied a list of organizations that support our troops and their families in various ways. Supporting our troops isn't just something to do for Christmas but something we can do for them and their families year round.

If you know of any worthwhile organizations I do not have listed please add via comments.

Merry Christmas

Be a Secret Santa to Children of Our Wounded Troops

Join "Operation Christmas
Calls for the Troops"
Share Christmas — Help Our Troops Call Their Loved Ones This Holiday

Send a free printed postcard to our overseas troops

Operation Family Fund To assist the injured and families of the those who have been injured or killed as a part of the Global War on Terrorism, whether domestic or abroad, military or civilian, with financial grants for transitioning to their new circumstances and achieving financial self-sufficiency.

Soldiers Angels Soldiers' Angels specialize in filling specific service member and family needs. You can get involved in sending handmade blankets to the wounded, supporting our military chaplains, helping soldiers distribute toys and clothing to children in Iraq and Afghanistan, and much, much more!

Coffee and Cookies for the Troops You can help make the daily routine of our troops serving in Afghanistan and Iraq a little more bearable.

We've heard from countless members of the Armed Forces serving in the Middle East that one precious resource in short supply is quality coffee. That's why Move America Forward wanted to send only the BEST GOURMET Coffee to the troops. What better to enjoy with a cup of exquisite coffee but with name brand Oreo Cookies? Also included in MAF care packages are special treats from Jelly Belly jelly beans, part of our Candy Diplomacy Program.

Homes for Our Troops is a non-partisan, non-profit 501 (c)(3)organization that provides specially adapted homes for our severely injured service members. Through our growing network of monetary contributions, donations from building contractors, suppliers, corporate supporters and local volunteers, we are able to provide our assistance at no cost to the veterans that we serve.

"The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.You have enlarged the nation

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders."

Isaiah 9:2-3, 6 (NIV)

..."Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

Inscribed on the base of the Statue of Liberty

"Proclaim Liberty throughout all the land unto all the inhabitants thereof," Leviticus 25:10

Inscribed on the Liberty Bell

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Revisionist History from Levin and Stabenow

Detroit Did All That?


Economy: Taxpayers are being told that the middle class itself may be in peril if they don't bail out the auto industry. Look behind that tall claim and you'll find a liberal creation myth.

As the fate of General Motors, Chrysler and maybe Ford continues to hang in the balance, we hear increasingly dire talk about what might ensue if any of these companies has to seek protection under bankruptcy laws.

These companies would fold, millions of jobs would be lost, and America would lose a national-security linchpin. To top it all off, the survival of the middle class may be at stake, or so we're told.

Michigan's senior senator, Carl Levin, acknowledged on National Public Radio earlier this month that taxpayers may be reluctant to bail out Detroit. But he added: "I think everybody wants the middle class to survive, and the manufacturing centers of this country — wherever they are — have been a great source of the middle class to this country."

Fellow Senate Michigander Debbie Stabenow has said: "To fundamentally have a middle class in this country, we need to support the people who started the middle class: the automakers."

Both Levin and Stabenow may be taking a cue from UAW President Ron Gettelfinger, who has told union delegates that "the real issue is the backbone of America — an industry that does more for the economy than any other industry and, quite frankly, made the middle class what it is today."

Did Detroit really do all that? If so, then America had no middle class to speak of until the early 20th century.

Most historians would find that idea strange, but it springs from a view of history that seems widely held in the labor movement and the Democratic Party. This is the theory that unions essentially created the modern middle class in the mid-20th century by boosting the wages and benefits of millions of manufacturing workers.

You might call this the liberals' Middle Class Creation Myth. The auto industry is central to that tale not because of its bosses but because of the UAW, whose lavish contracts set the standard for the rest of organized labor. So all the talk today about saving the auto industry in order to save the middle class is really about preserving those union contracts.

The Big Three could survive and maybe even thrive by cutting their wage and benefit costs to the levels enjoyed by Toyota, Honda and other foreign companies that make cars in the U.S. Bankruptcy protection (or a similar government-supervised process) would release Detroit from its current UAW contracts and enable it to speed up the process, now far too slow, of closing that labor-cost gap.

We doubt if that is what Stabenow and Levin want. It's certainly not what Gettelfinger would want. But it's what Detroit needs to become competitive again. It's also what autoworkers need if they want to keep their jobs for the long term.

History teaches a couple of lessons here. One is that, as the labor movement boasts, wages and benefits did indeed rise in the late 1940s and 1950s, when private-sector unions were at their maximum strength.

But another lesson is that American industry had unusual advantages during that time, when Europe and Japan were still rebuilding and offered no serious competition. It was a phase that could not last, and unions could not stem the drain of jobs out of the U.S. manufacturing sector.

No fact makes this point better than the UAW's own dramatic shrinkage, from 1.5 million members in 1979 to fewer than half a million today. Such is the downside to a strategy of raising wages through collective muscle. When labor gets priced to a point where a machine can do a job more cheaply than a worker, the worker is out of a job.

So there has to be a better way to build an enduring middle class. In fact, there is. Long before the UAW was founded or the first car rolled off the assembly line, Americans were working their way into the middle class through education and individual initiative. Many have made that move up by way of Detroit. But Detroit is only one of myriad routes that the enterprising can choose.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Gov. Palin's Home Church Damaged by Arson


Dec 13, 8:25 PM EST

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) -- Gov. Sarah Palin's home church was badly damaged by arson, leading the governor to apologize if the fire was connected to "undeserved negative attention" from her failed campaign as the Republican vice presidential nominee. ...

...Early in Palin's campaign, the church was criticized for promoting in a Sunday bulletin a Focus on the Family "Love Won Out Conference" in Anchorage.

The conference promised to "help men and women dissatisfied with living homosexually understand that same-sex attractions can be overcome."

Does the reach of radical homosexuals enraged by the passage of *Prop 8 reach all the way to Alaska?

*Proposition 8 was a California ballot proposition that changed the state Constitution to restrict the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman Wikipedia

Sarah's home church has suffered $1 million in damage.

Those wishing to make a donation to help rebuilt the church:

1. Please make your check payable to:
Wasilla Bible Church

2. Then mail your check to:

Wasilla Bible Church
1651 W. Nicola Avenue
Wasilla, Alaska 99654

Address courtesy of Team Sarah

Friday, December 12, 2008

GM Idles Local Michigan Plants

Both Lansing Grand River Assembly and Lansing Delta Assembly plants will stop their production lines for the entire month of January.

General Motors Corp. says it is part of a plan to cut another 250,000 vehicles from its first-quarter production schedule by temporarily closing 21 factories across North America.Friday's announcement expands previously announced closings at the local plants.GM and nearly all automakers who sell in the U.S. are mired in the worst sales slump in 26 years.

Employees at more than a dozen local part suppliers -- companies that directly supply the Lansing Grand River and Delta Township plants will be effected also.

Companies like Alliance Interiors, Bridgewater Interiors, Leer,and trucking company Comprehensive Logistics will see cutbacks.WILX-TV

Lansing Grand River Assembly produces Cadillac CTS, Cadillac SRX, STS, CTS-V and STS-V.

LGR has approximately 1,427 Hourly and 210 Salary employees.
LGR opened in 2001 and is considered "the gold standard for GM manufacturing — highly flexible, lean employment levels, profitable and able to crank out models with few defects. It is GM’s best hope of competing head-to-head with efficient U.S. manufacturing plants run by Toyota, Nissan, Honda and other foreign rivals." The Detroit News

Lansing Delta Assembly produces GMC Acadia, Saturn Outlook and the Buick Enclave.

LDA has approximately 3,396 Hourly and 261 Salary employees.
LDA opened in 2006 and "The state-of-the-art facility...collects rainwater on its roof and uses it to flush toilets--one of the environmentally friendly practices that has made it the only auto plant in the world to earn gold-level certification with the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system."InformationWeek

Lansing Grand River Assembly and Lansing Delta Assembly plants are the only new production plants GM has built in North America since the Saturn Plant in Spring Hill,Tennessee in 1991.

On a personal note I worked as an hourly Administrative Assistant for Body, Paint and General Assembly at Lansing Grand River shortly before I retired this year. And I am of course saddened by the news for the GM family and my community.

Merry Tossmas 2008!

Christmas "friendly" Retailers

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cash-Strapped Electric Car Companies Seeking Federal Funds Too

Wall Street Journal

The heads of the struggling Detroit auto makers aren't the only car makers looking for help from Washington. The electric vehicle industry has its hands out, too.

If anything, representatives of the electric and electrified vehicle business jumped ahead of the "legacy" auto industry in the transportation bailout queue that formed in the nation's capital last week. A conference sponsored by the Electric Drive Transportation Association attracted a crowd of electric vehicle manufacturers and their boosters to Washington's convention center during the first half of the week.

Officials from the Department of Energy on Monday presented tips to attendees on how electric vehicle companies could apply for federal loans. The CEOs of the legacy car industry – General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC -- didn't get to town with their begging bowls until Thursday.

Joseph White talks with Brian Wynne, president of the Electric Drive Transportation Association, about government support, research and development and the cost of driving electric vehicles. (Dec. 7)

The electric-vehicle industry positions itself as the future of personal transportation. President-elect Barack Obama is now the industry's highest ranking advocate. He's said he wants to see one million plug-in vehicles by 2015, as part of his broader goal to end U.S. dependence on Mideast oil.

But right now, the electric-vehicle community has a lot of the same problems as the legacy car business, and a few more besides. Brian Wynne, the head of the EDTA, says manufacturers in his group need the government's help now.
"We have a gap," he says. "We need to get over this gap."

The credit crunch and the economic slump are slamming the crop of electric-vehicle companies that sprung up in recent years, fueled in part by Silicon Valley venture-capital money.

FiskerTesla Motors LLC, once the darling of the green car movement, is now scrambling to stay afloat and is asking for a $400 million loan from the same $25 billion federal Energy Department program that Detroit's car makers are looking to tap in their own fight for survival.

Tesla is now taking some flak for seeking handouts from taxpayers, most of whom could never afford its current product, a racy electric sports car that starts at more than $100,000. Detroit's chiefs might say: Welcome to our world.

The electric-vehicle industry's need for government assistance doesn't stop with subsidized loans.

Mr. Wynne says the government's existing tax credits for purchases of electrified vehicles – meaning all-electric and gas-electric hybrids – should be expanded. Currently the credits, which range from $2,500 for a plug-in hybrid vehicle with a four kilowatt per hour battery pack to as much as $7,500 for an electric vehicle weighing under 10,000 pounds. (There are larger credits up to $15,000 for bigger, commercial electric and hybrid vehicles.) But these credits start to fade away once 250,000 such vehicles are sold. "We'll need more head room," Mr. Wynne says.

(Since now it looks like the Big 3 will get a loan there is any doubt that Barack Obama will not extend the handout to one of his pet projects? And in fact may combine the two as part of the loan to the Big 3)

The U.S. should also do more to promote development of advanced vehicle batteries, he says. After access to capital, batteries are one of the biggest anxieties among U.S.-based electric and hybrid vehicle manufacturers – from the Detroit Three down to the smallest Silicon Valley EV upstart. Right now, there's no company producing advanced automotive batteries suitable for electric vehicles or hybrids in the U.S., Mr. Wynne says.

To the extent that such batteries are made in volume anywhere, it's in Japan, Korea or elsewhere in Asia. Executives at GM and Ford and their major U.S. based suppliers worry that when push comes to shove, expensive Asian battery making capacity will be dedicated first to Asian auto makers – mainly hybrid leader Toyota Motor Corp.

Moreover, trading U.S.-made gasoline engine blocks for Asian-made battery packs might not be quite what Congress had in mind when it decided to offer loans backed by U.S. tax money to subsidize electric-vehicle production.

Finally, U.S. electric-vehicle makers are hoping that the government can be not just the financier of last resort, but also a customer. "The federal government owns 600,000 vehicles," Mr. Wynne says. The government should be a buyer for electric vehicles – not just cars, but commercial vehicles.

There's no question that the electric-vehicle industry has scrambled to a higher plateau during the past few years. The association's conference included a small auto show where visitors could stroll from a prototype of GM's Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, to a full-sized hybrid city bus made by Germany's Daimler AG, to a tiny, electric dump truck made by e-Ride Industries, a maker of neighborhood electric vehicles and small work vehicles that are catching on in places like national parks and college campuses.

Established auto makers, including Toyota, GM, Chrysler, Nissan Motor Co., all are talking about plans to field significant numbers of partially electric or fully electric vehicles over the next several years. Powerful interest groups – many of them members of Mr. Wynne's organization – see profit potential in diverting more of the money spent on transportation from the oil industry toward the electric utility industry – with a few dollars sprinkled on the technology industry (for new "smart" grid software and other enabling systems.)

Not so long ago, the electric-vehicle industry's moment seemed to have arrived, after nearly a century of frustration and failure. Soaring oil prices, technology advances and the enthusiasm of deep pocketed investors appeared to be coming together to overcome the obstacles that have relegated electric vehicles to the auto market's sidelines since the days of Thomas Edison.

Now, oil prices have crashed, clouding the economic case for switching to expensive battery-boosted cars. Investors are holding on to their cash, forcing companies like Tesla to scale back and scrounge for funding. And the legacy car makers – whose support for battery-boosted vehicles will be crucial if electric vehicles are to achieve sufficient sales volume to drive down costs – are on the ropes.

Long term, Mr. Wynne says, the case for switching the fuel for our daily commutes to electricity still makes sense, in terms of costs per mile, national security and environmental preservation.
"The short term," he says, "is tough."

Friday, December 5, 2008

National Parks to Allow Right-to-Carry


Friday, December 05, 2008

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI), through the National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, has announced the final amended version of its changes to rules on carrying of firearms in national parks and wildlife refuges. DOI’s move will restore the rights of law-abiding gun owners who wish to transport and carry firearms for lawful purposes on most DOI lands, and will make federal law consistent with the state law in which these public lands are located. NRA led the effort to amend the existing policy regarding the carrying and transportation of firearms on these federal lands.

“Today’s announcement by the U.S. Department of the Interior brings clarity and uniformity for law-abiding gun owners visiting our national parks,” said NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris W. Cox. “We are pleased that the Interior Department recognizes the right of law-abiding citizens to protect themselves and their families while enjoying America's National Parks and wildlife refuges.”

DOI announced the rule change today and will publish the new regulations in the Federal Register. The new regulations allow right-to-carry permit holders to exercise their Second Amendment rights on national park and wildlife refuges in those states that recognize such permits. The move will provide consistency across our nation’s federal lands and put an end to the patchwork of regulations that governed different lands managed by different federal agencies. In the past, Bureau of Land Management and Forest Service lands allowed the carrying of firearms, while lands managed by DOI did not.

NRA has long held that amendments to those regulations were needed to reflect the changed legal situations with respect to state laws on carrying firearms. Earlier this year, fifty-one U.S. Senators sent a strong bipartisan letter to the DOI supporting the move to make state firearms laws applicable to national park lands and refuges.

“These changes respect the Second Amendment rights of honest citizens as they enjoy our public lands,” concluded Cox. “We applaud the Interior Department’s efforts to amend these out of date regulations

As a single female hiker who with my dog hikes in National Parks, (like Glacier National Park pictured above) this is great news! My 2nd Amendment rights nor my ability to protect myself from animals ( or human) should not stop at the border of a National Park.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

How about Some Good Michigan News for a Change?

Spartan Motors Defies Economy, Posts Sales Increase of 59.5 Percent

Capital Gains, 12/3/2008

Charlotte, MI-based Spartan Motors saw its third quarter net sales increase by 59.5 percent from its 2007 third quarter results.

Spartan reported record third quarter net earnings of $14.7 million, compared with net earnings of $2.6 million the same quarter of 2007.

"This was an excellent quarter for Spartan, especially given the tumultuous national economic environment," says president and CEO, John Sztykiel.

"Our market diversification and flexible manufacturing model continue to allow us to grow and profitably compete in difficult times. During the quarter, we ramped up production rapidly and efficiently to complete a sizable military order.”

The 2008 third quarter results represent the best third quarter in the company’s history.

"Our military role is evolving from a rapid production and deployment stage to a long-term sustainment and partnership model, marked by smaller volumes of a wider range of mine-protected variants,” Sztykiel says. “Emergency-rescue continues to be a great foundation with tremendous opportunity."

Spartan Motors was also recently recognized by the U.S. Military for its rapid production and deployment of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles.

Interesting sidebar about this is the history of Spartan Motors:

Spartan Motors, Inc. got its start in 1976 outside of Lansing, Michigan, when a small group of automotive engineers who lost their jobs due to a bankruptcy decided to draw on their collective expertise and launch their own company.

Their formula was simple: build a high-quality custom product for a specific consumer, sell it at a fair price and provide great service. The team designed, built and delivered its first custom fire truck cab and chassis a few months later – and Spartan Chassis was born

And Spartan Motors in a non-Union plant

GM Restructuring Plan for Long-Term Viability and Interactive map of US auto Jobs

Submitted to Senate Banking Committee & House of Representatives Financial Services Committee
December 2, 2008

GM Plan

Its long and I have not had time to read it all yet but wanted to get it posted.

Also Interactive map that displays the number of auto jobs across the country.

241,883 total auto jobs in Michigan

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Hundreds gather as UAW addresses domestic auto crisis

Louis Aguilar
Detroit News

DETROIT -- Hundreds of United Auto Workers locals have converged at the Marriott Hotel in the Renaissance Center this morning, and many are prepared to be asked by top UAW leaders to reopen national labor agreements that will allow for a vast overhaul of the way autoworkers are paid, the health and retiree benefits they receive, and determine how many will hold on to their jobs.

The local leaders said it was unclear if they were going to vote today on reopening, which is the first step toward a general vote for its 139,000 active workers. But on Tuesday, each of the Detroit automakers made it clear they intend to reopen the 2007 labor agreements.....

They could save some $$ by eliminating benefits to partners of same-sex couple. Anyone discussing that??

The Big Three automakers -- DaimlerChrysler,, General Motors and Ford Motor -- announced in June that they would offer health benefits to the same-sex partners of their 466,000 hourly and salaried employees in the United States. This was a ''landmark move'' in the effort by corporate America to provide such benefits for gay and lesbian couples, the report concluded.

I could not find much on the cost of providing these benefits however

A 2005 Hewitt Associates study revealed that a majority of employers experience a total benefits cost increase of less than 1 percent.

Several studies have shown that enrollment rates tend to be in the 1 percent to 2 percent range.

2% of 446,000 is over 93,000

93,000 @ $395 for health care for active workers and $950 for retirees. Equals for active workers $36,735.000.00 and for retirees $88,350.000.00

Total $125,085.000.00

Eliminating same sex couple partner benefits is an over 25 million savings to GM.

So if we are going to talk about eliminating benefits for actual employees...

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Saul Anuzis on Hugh Hewitt discussing the importance of Tech

As you know by now our own Saul Anuzis is running for RNC chairman. Yesterday he was a guest on Townhall contributor, Hugh Hewitt's radio show discussing among other things, the role of technology in running campaigns AND winning elections.

Saul highlighted the importance of blogging, Twitter, FaceBook and YouTube as the new medium for grassroots organization, assimilating information and reaching voters. Saul himself is on the cutting edge in using this new technology, having his own blog, Twittering , Facebook and YouTube.

Saul noted that Barack Obama was very successful in using these new forms of media technology in his campaign and had over 60,000 people following him on Twitter.

On ScienceDaily Dr. Paul Haridakis, associate professor of Communication Studies at Kent State University and a long-time scholar in the area of the impact of media on the political landscape in the U.S. writes about the new social media in an article entitled "Social Media And Presidential Election: Impact Of YouTube, MySpace"

He states, "Many people will watch videos and use traditional media like TV to acquire political information about the candidates, but they also are going to the Internet and using social networking sites to see who people they know support. The information gleaned from their social networks may be the information they find most credible and persuasive.

They'll listen to their buddy on his MySpace page, not necessarily the traditional messengers that candidates employ to reach out to the voters, or even the candidates themselves.

That exploits the power of social media pretty well," Haridakis says. "The candidates in this election season have not fully harnessed the power of these tools."

Saul wants to "fully harness the power" of these tools into the Republican party and rightly so. As Dr.Haridakis notes, Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Internet TV are the new media and will become increasing important and utilized in all new campaigns and are becoming vital to winning.

Kudos to Saul for bringing this to the fore front for the Republican party and all you bloggers out there, keep doing what you do!

And if you haven't yet checked out or use some of the other methods of social media mentioned,I encourage you to do so.