A call to action

As you probably know, I work for Ford, which is facing a crisis of its own caused in good part by the on-going credit crisis. We have been aggressively restructuring our business and re-inventing ourselves. The crisis we now face is not of our doing. Because of the uncertainties in the economy at large and the scarcity of credit, people have quite literally stopped buying cars. Ford has positioned itself to be profitable at lower volumes than in the past, just not this low.

I have struggled with my own ideologies, saying that “Too big to fail is too big to play.” At the time, my job wasn’t at risk. I still believe that it is true. However, somehow the US automotive industry got to a point where we are too big to fail. The failure of one of the Big 3 auto companies would likely drive many of its suppliers into bankruptcy as well. Because the supply base is so intertwined between all of the major players (including the foreign automakers), wholesale disruption in the supply network would likely cause the failure of the domestics and a suspension of domestic production by the foreign automakers.
I believe from everything that I’ve read and heard that Ford is well positioned to survive a short economic downturn. However, if GM were to fail, the economic fallout would likely also drive us into bankruptcy.
Melanie asked me if the bailout is good or bad. I don’t know. I do know that it is neccessary. I don’t advocate a free ride for anyone. There should be pain for all involved, as we all got into this together. The union, the executives, the employees, the shareholders, and the taxpayers.
Here’s an excerpt from an email I got at work:
There are many who question why the U.S. industry should receive any additional assistance and are quick to assert that the current situation is due to the failure of the automakers to bring new technology to market and an alleged resistance to producing fuel-efficient vehicles. Here are some important points that clearly illustrate Ford’s commitment to a new way of doing business and to bringing the newest, most fuel-efficient technologies to market quickly:
· Ford’s product-led plan to deliver more of the safe, affordable, high-quality and fuel-efficient vehicles that consumers want and value remains solidly in place. We are also well-positioned to take advantage of our global scale and strengths.
· Ford has committed to leading in the development of advanced technologies, including EcoBoost, Flexible-fuel vehicles, clean diesel, hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and hydrogen cars.
· Ford alone has invested more than $22 billion in research and development (2005-07).
· Ford’s quality is now on par with Honda and Toyota and rising every year.
· The new Ford Fusion Hybrid beats the Toyota Camry Hybrid in fuel mileage.
Please take a few minutes to act. There are links below with contact information for your Senators and Representative. Please call them or email them. Tell them that the failure of the auto industry should not be an option. Give us the time that we need to finish restructuring without the added pressures of the credit crisis and economic downturn.

To call your elected officials as a “Friend of Ford” please click here (hint: it will be easier to call if you click on “Print this alert” link on the site below as a complete document will be printed with each of the officials names and phone numbers provided): http://capwiz.com/ford/callalert/index.tt?alertid=12192861 To email or send a printed letter to your elected officials as a “Friend of Ford” please click here:http://capwiz.com/ford/issues/alert/?alertid=12192906

Please feel free to send these links to your family and friends and ask them to take action to support our industry and our economy.

Running: A history

I recently crossed an important milestone… According to my Nike+ iPod system, on November 8th, I ran my 500th mile since I started using the system back in November 2006. So 500 recorded miles in 2 years, plus some amount of non-recorded miles. Not too shabby!

Mike made me this logo in celebration of my 100 miles since his last run. Awesome what you can do with Paint and WordArt, isn’t it?

To me, what is really impressive about all of this is that amounts to approximately 475 more miles in those 2 years than in the previous 8 years. In high school, I was a runner. Ok, kind of a runner. I did run cross country for two and a half seasons, and long distance track for a season. I was consistently middle of the pack, but I’m pretty sure it was in the front middle. The important part was that I enjoyed running, and was at least in enough shape to do it regularly.

Some persistent injuries and high levels of stress during my senior year forced me to drop cross country that year, and I fell out of the habit of running. Over the next several years, I tried occasionally to run again, but I was never able to hold the habit consistently. My best attempt was during my last year of grad school. My roommate over the summer, Adam Miles, was crazy into running, and he talked me into a nice pair of running shoes, which I did in fact really use to run in multiple times. But grad school was more important, and I didn’t have a real goal in mind, so I fell off the bandwagon again.

With this in mind, once I moved to Michigan to start at Ford, I decided that for once and for all, I was ready to become a runner again. I had a good deal of time on my hands, as I was living by myself in Canton, and hadn’t really integrated myself into the ward here yet. I decided that beginning in September of 2006, after the completion of a travel audit in New York City, I would buy myself new shoes, and reacquaint myself with the road.

I did some research, being the meticulous type, and decided to use the Coach Potato to 5K training program. It is designed to ease you into running. My failures in the past were probably from trying to do too much too fast, and this program, which I highly recommend, keeps it simple by moving from walking with jogging to jogging with walking to jogging. I made my own music mixes with the timing built in, and eventually found that someone else had done that too.

To keep myself motivated, I have used running to bribe myself. For example, I really wanted a new iPod nano to replace the clunky iPod classic I had that would skip after exactly 20 minutes of running, and of course, if I was going to get the nano, I wanted the Nike + to go with it. I determined that if I could consistently make progress on my Couch Potato plan, I could have the whole setup for my birthday in 2006. It did, and I got my running bling. (Leilani once asked if I liked running for running’s sake, or for the gadgets… I’m not ashamed to say that its for both.)

I also used it to earn my Wii, which I officially earned last Saturday when I crossed the 500 mark. I decided that if I was showing adequate progress, I could open the Wii at 400 miles… which I also did, as long as I made it to 500.

One of my tricksiest motivation techniques to keep myself going, and to remind myself that I was a runner again was to take out a 4 year subscription to Runner’s World. On eBay, you can get anything… even 4 year subscriptions for less than $10. Now, I get a monthly reminder to get back on the boat.

It took me a year to be ready to run a race after I started running again, but last Thanksgiving, I finally decided I was ready for it, and talked Amy into running the Turkey Trot in AA with me, on a whim and at the last minute. She did very well, and I finished, and that was enough for me. It was possibly the best thing that happened to me in 2007.

Amy placed and I finished! Sweet Victory!

I’ve managed to run 3 5Ks this year, each with slightly better times or finishes (2nd place in my age group at the Tara Grant Memorial!) and I’ve trained myself up to a 10K finally. It took two attempts, but here I come Turkey Trot. Here I come. This may be one of the few New Year’s Resolutions that I actually keep!

That’s me, streaking to the finish line at the 2007 Turkey Trot.

I’ve also managed to conquer new distances, ones that seemed impossible. The day of the Tara Grant memorial was supposed to be my first 7 miler, and I was terrified. But once I knocked it out, those longer distances don’t really scare me anymore. You’ve seen my casual talk of an 8 miler that may have been a 9 miler. I’ve got a 10 miler on the horizon, and I’ve realized that I’m practically at the half-marathon distance. If I can keep myself healthy and running during the winter and into the spring, I’m seriously considering a 2009 half.

This was the run that put me over the 500 mile mark. Amazing!

I have found peace while running, and for the hectic world we live in, I’ll take peace where I can find it. Running has brought me a sense of purpose, as well as a sense of pride. These last 500 miles have been a wild ride, and here’s to 500 more!

So what are you waiting for? Go running!

Happy Halloween!

So, probably not the most timely of posts.   I’ve been fighting with my computer, my browser, and Blogger to get these photos uploaded.  I have finally vanquished the computer gnomes that prevented this post.
I’ve officially been 29 for 12 days now, but I wanted to post about what I did on my birthday.  I had a wonderful time, thanks in great part to some wonderful friends.  I took the day off, to take advantage of the quirkiness of Ford’s holiday schedules and work my way into a 5 day weekend.  
I had been having a hard time trying to schedule a get-together with friends.  The timing was just off.  Someone took it on themselves to organize a breakfast at the Northside Grill.  I’m still not entirely sure who it was, but I am very grateful to that person or persons.   I would have never thought about breakfast.   The waitress brought out a brownie cake with candles for both me and Seth who shares my birthday.  Brownies at breakfast.  Who’da thunk?
The second plan of the day was to go hiking after Friday Forum.  I had managed to convince Jonathan that he should come hiking, as it would probably be one of the last great days of the fall.  Together we persuaded Amy to join us, and Amy brought Jin

We drove out to Pinckney Rec, and it was a beautiful day!  The leaves were still  colorful and mostly still on the trees.  The temperature was perfect for hiking!  We set out on the Crooked Lake trail, a five mile hike.   Amy and Jonathan weren’t on vacation like I was, so they walked part of the trail with me and then went back and did important things, while I did my best to wear out Jin.
Jin and I did fairly well together.  I think he didn’t realize that there might be squirrels off trail.  He did get a little impatient with me when I stopped to take pictures.   Right towards the last half mile of the trail, Jin noticed something off trail.  Unfortunately, we were at the top of a steepish hill, and the squirrel or woodland creature or whatever was at the bottom of that hill.  It was a fun ride down.
The final part of the day was the Monster Ball.  I had been intending to exercise my birthday right to not dress up on Halloween, but it came to me that I should go as Dr. Horrible.  I posted the video a few posts back to get a few of my friends up to speed, because i knew many wouldn’t really know who I was.  
I think I pulled it off fairly well.  For an internet meme that not many people around these parts had heard of, I only had to explain myself a few times.  My welding goggles and my freeze ray made it.
One of the events at the Monster Ball was a Mr. and Miss Monster Ball 2008 talent contest.  The HSAC had invited a few people to participate, Mike and Brian notably.  I was not in the original set of contestants.  However, someone didn’t show, and I got asked at the last minute if I could do something so there was an even number of guys and ladies in the contest.   Fortunately, I had my iPod in my car with the sound track for Dr. Horrible on it. 
I quickly put together a lip sync to the Laundry Day / My Freeze Ray song.  I convinced Amy to be the Penny to my Billy.  She had seen the show, and knew what was going on.  We ran through it once before the show, me listening to the iPod and narrating the actions as we went along.  The lip sync went well and got a rousing round of applause.
Somehow, against Mike’s rendition (and real singing) “The Monster King” and Brian’s excellent song about vampires, the crowd gave its approval to my obviously lip-synced song and crowned me Mr. Monster 2008.  Still no real idea how that happened.  

Kara Stowers, dressed as Kimmy Gibler, was crowned Miss Monster Ball. It was a fantastic way to end the night. Thanks to all who shared a part of their day with me. I couldn’t have picked a better day

How I voted

I know that I will be judged deficient for what I am about to post. I’ve already had two negative reactions when I told someone how I voted today. I’ve been pretty open about my indecision, and I feel that it would be cheating to not reveal how I actually voted. Please don’t call me stupid for my opinion. I respect yours.

Let me say that I did put a lot of thought and effort into this, although I think I could have probably done more. I honestly believe that both candidates are good men, good leaders, and both would lead the country in positive, albeit distinctly different, directions.

I ended up voting for John McCain.

The principal reasons I voted for McCain:

1- I believe that raising taxes on business is not the way to create jobs. I work for a company that would likely be penalized by Obama’s plan, not only not creating jobs, but putting my job in danger.

2- I know and understand McCain’s voting record over a long series of years. I tried to look up Obama’s record and found a whole bunch of Did not Votes. I used votesmart.org to compare records and special interest group ratings.

3- McCain and Palin are both western leaders, and understand the issues of the West. For me, that is important even though I am technically a Midwesterner right now.

I used a few different “Select a Candidate” style online quizes, but the one I trust the most, from American Public Media, gave both candidates a tied score. I guess that makes me truly middle of the road.

The opinion that finally tipped the scale was actually one that I trust quite a bit, and you’ll laugh when I say it: Orson Scott Card, one of my favorite sci-fi authors. Honestly, he’s kind of out there sometimes, and I can’t really explain why, but this article and this article were the last two that I read before I made my decision. Don’t think that I can’t see through the (clearly heavy handed) rhetoric in them, because I can. They helped me clarify my position on what was important to me.

I honestly think that Obama will likely win the election (As I write this, NPR has it 200 to 76 – favoring Obama), and I am really ok with it. I think this country needs to move beyond partisanship, demonizing the other side, the side that you don’t agree with as “evil,” “stupid,” and “just plain wrong.” A house divided against itself can never stand. I think both candidates are capable of truly building a great nation. (It’s now 200 to 90 – favoring Obama.)

God Bless America!

Final CSA Pick–up for the year

It was a sad day today when I realized that it was my last CSA pick up at the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market. I’ve been pleased with my experience with the Our Family Farm, LLC Community Supported Agriculture program. I haven’t been able to eat all of the food in a timely fashion, but I like the fact that I know exactly how many people have handled my food.

I’ve been planning a big wrap-up post to summarize my experience and draw conclusions if it was good value for money. Watch for that post. I’m sure that you are all thrilled that I have to stop making lists of food and actually blog about something meaningful instead. 😉

Anyhow, here’s my last take.

1- 1 dozen eggs
2- 1 sweet lightning squash
3- 1 butternut squash
4- 2 decorative gourds
5- 1 head of lettuce
6- 1 baggie of arugula
7- 2 ears of decorative Indian corn
8- 10+ radishes
9- 4 carrots
10- 1 bunch of curly kale
11- 1 bok choi
12- 1 giant stalk of Brussels sprouts
13- 2 apples leftover from a Halloween party (not kidding here!)
14- 1 cabbage
15- 2 crowns of broccolli
16- 1 quart of potatoes
17- 1 bunch of turnips

I think that’s all of it. I’m not sure though. I did pass over an additional two decorative pumpkins.