Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Five Minutes of Recognition

This Thursday a congressional committee will get to hear from a former Delphi engineer about the plight of the salaried retirees from GM/Delphi.  I am one and this article really sums it up better than any other I have read or that I have tried to relay myself. 

Obama said that it was going to be tough, that there would have to be sacrifices made by all.  He was referring to the restructuring of the auto industry.

Well, I will totally disagree with him on that in part.  Yes there has been some sacrifiing but not on all fronts.  His hinchmen, as well as Bush's, have really stepped up to the plate.  You start with Paulson and George's give away of money without rules and you end with Barrack's favorite son Geithner writing new rules and defying the law.

Tell the lady in this article that she is going to make sacrifices that are equal to all that worked for these companies.  If you can do that and sleep at night then you don't have American blood running through your veins.

Equality, the UAW and IUE/CWA members got their top-up pension funds.  They got a reduced healthcare program.  I didn't say eliminated, I said reduced.  Some call it catistrophic, I call it healthcare.  They pay more upfront but their monthly premiums reflect it.  They went from about $25 a month for a premium to $125 approximately.  Yes, their out of pocket is double mine but if I didn't qualify for HCTC I would be paying $1600 premiums monthly.  I just started paying $320.  Sometime after Jan. 1 I get to find out what my pension will go to.  I'm currently get less than a third what the lady in the article gets and with fewer years of service.  My only advantage is I have 12 years on her.  It's a jump ball situation. 

GM was put into backruptcy by the government.  Delphi was in bankruptcy all by themselves way ahead of the economic melt down.  Both are out of bankruptcy now and Delphi is no long an American company in my books.  They have a ticker symbol on Wall Street but manufacture nothing here.  GM, they closed some plants, shut down dealerships and, are buying more tires from China thus shutting down an American tire supplier.  Obama said this would be a taxable offense if companies took or sent work outside the US.  Well, let's see, did GM get taxed for this procedure, hell no.  Obama is taxing China 35% import duties, wow!  He made them mad and we actually have people in congress saying that was too much.  He had the opportunity to go higher.

I understand that these issues are somewhat touchy but.....These same stone throwers argued that GM should have stood up to the unions years ago and took the strikes they were threatened with.  Why didn't they yell foul, tax 'em more instead of be careful, don't make them mad.  What are they going to do, sell our bonds, guit buying our currency, send us more toys polluted with chemicals?

I voted for Obama and the jury is still out as to whether that was a wise choice.  It wasn't his opponent that I voted against, it was the party.  Way too radical.  Heck, Cheney doesn't know he's out of office yet.

Read:  http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/27/business/27delphi.html?_r=1&hp

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sure signs of fall

I am really liking the new Tamaron lense.  It's got great zoom capabilities but it's the macro function that I really like.  I like the claraity, the crispness of the color.  I took these photos on a very cloudy day.  

I have here, a Maple tree in close, the flower of the Butterfly Bush, a Mum plant,  and a shrub that the name is in the drawer and I'm too lazy to get out.  I will tell you that the berries are green all summer and then turn purple in September.  They spiral around each branch or should I say they appear to because of the way they grow.  They are a favorite of the birds and when spring comes, they turn dark brown or black.  That indicates time to wack the plant.  March to April time frame. 

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Everyone should read this

This isn't a long disertation about Wall Street or the Insurance companies.  It is something that everyone should read.  There is no test to be taken but an understanding of the plight of America and the fighting that has been going on this year concerning our health care system should be understood.  Why did we, as the rest of the world did too, get in such a financial mess last year.  No, it didn't happen this year, it happened last year and before but the hard realities of the effects took place this year.

So, as Americans, we need to read.  We need to communicate with our government officials about our disgust in how THEY are doing their jobs.

A hint of what you will learn in this short article, Alabama has but one (1) insurance company in the state representing or covering the residents.  Now, in my book, that is a monopoly.  Do you think there are price controls going on?  Do you think the people of Alabama are getting the best deal for their buck?  What's going on in your state, do you know?  Do you care?  How much are you paying for insurance above and beyond the fair and equitable price for them, the insurer, to make a fair and equitable profit. 

Capitalism is about making all you can.  It isn't about being allowed to rip someone off to do so.

Read this, get involved, ask questions, ask your congressinal represtentatives.  Are they in bed with the insurance heads or the bankers on Wall Street?


Thursday, October 15, 2009


I guess I'm just cheap.  For the past two days or so, seems like 24 hrs. a day, I have been trying to figure out how to convert a VHS tape to DVD.  I have a VCR to play the tape, a DVD recorder to record something with and a Digital 8 Handycam from Sony.  I have tried to put the VHS straight thru to the DVD, no luck.  I have tried to record from the VCR to the Sony Camcorder with the same luck.  A neighbor gave me a little black box with cable ports in one end and a USB + the disc to load and the computer sees the "new hardware but then it doesn't recognize the command to copy.  That should bring up another window to let me specify the camera.  Seems like all I do is go round and round.  I don't want to buy any thing because all I have is one tape to record.  It was made by Click Camera of about 20 8mm reels of film.  You know the ones, anyone want to look at family movies?

I'm going to give it a try some more and then break down and take it in to Click if I can't get it.  Very frustrating.  My office looks like some sort of electronic geeks place.  Two computers going, monitors, printers VCR and DVD players and recorders as well as still and video cameras sitting around.  Cables hanging everywhere.  Driving me nuts.

Hello, Click?

Friday, October 9, 2009

What I Like About My New Tamaron Lens

These two pictures were taken from the same spot with my new Tamaron lense. Picture info is as follows; Shutter Speed = 1/60, Aperture = 4.0 for the upper one and 6.3 for the lower one. ISO is 400 for both as well as the White Balance is set to Auto. The Focal Length for the upper one is 18mm and 270 for the lower picture.
I like the clarity of both as well as the color in both. I really like this lense and can hardly wait until I can go to some car shows next year and use it.

Digital Cameras and Digital Photos

When it comes to photography, especially digital, I am no expert. The only part that I am an expert in is how dumb I am or can be.

I started my picture taking with some sort of Instamatic with the rotating cube for a flash. I may have even used a Brownie at one time or another but it didn't belong to my family. The Instamatics were like a 35mm film camera except you put your film cartridge in as a unit. You could see the progression of frames in a little window in the back lid that opened for the loading. These cameras progressed to built in flashes so the cubes went to wayside.

My dad went to England on a TDY mission (Temporary Duty Yonder) for those that aren't military, and brought back with him two Petri 7 English 35mm cameras. One for himself and one for my brother who was showing interest in photography. My brother actually got pretty good. He set up his camera for night shots and took the cars going by our house at night. He even got into taking pictures, not with this camera, in one of those small hobby rocket kits. It launched and when out of fuel it would start to fall to earth where a parachute would deploy and the jerk would pull a lever and a camera in the nose would work. He also sent a mouse up once. It lived but if my memory serves me correctly, it got away. I've never seen a mouse run that fast.

Well, somehow I ended up with one of the Petri's. I believe it was my brothers. He ended up in the middle east after college so I just kind of took it over. The first time I used it I took it to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car track west of Lexington, OH. I had never been there and had never taken pictures of moving cars. A school buddy of mine owned a Fiat 124 Spyder invited me to go. SCCA races the old Camel GT and Can Am series were running there.

There weren't' any attachments, at least that we had, at the time for the camera. Mid-Ohio is over 2.25 miles plus long and you can see most of the track from the infield. There was a decreasing radius turn that was difficult to get to but there was plenty more track to see. The problem would be the distance for the lens. Still, I got some pretty good if not amazing shots for such a rookie. For economics, most of my pictures were on slides. You only paid for the processing of the film, not putting the picture on paper. You could really get low numbers in your ISO film. I think mine was 64 and yet you could still get good action photos. It's been 38 years since the first ones were taken. Long forgotten and poor storage left the 38 year old pictures rendered useless. The film deteriorated to where they turned black. I had pictures of Jackie Stewart, George Fullmer and Mark Donahue (deceased). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Donohue
His son David just won the Le Mans this past summer. I had some, what I would call, really good pictures of the Porsche 917 in action. Possibly the fastest track car ever. Totally unlimited of restrictions like today.

I moved up from the Petri 7 to a Canon AE-1 that my brother brought home with him in 1980. He got it in Egypt of some other middle eastern country while stationed there.

I used this camera until my daughter went to college. I had gotten a telephoto lens and a multiplier lens for it as well as a bounce flash. In her second year of college she needed a camera for class. She was a graphic design major. I gave her my camera and for that I got a total surprise, my wife bought me a Canon Rebel Xti. I couldn't believe the weight difference. I added a telephoto macro lens and a flash to this one also. My daughter got me a filter, which I knew nothing about, but she was a good student and helped me. She still has the AE-1 but I do not have the Rebel or any other part of it.

About a year and a half ago I went to a local camera shop and bought the digital version of my Rebel. 10 mega pixels, I waited for this camera to come out. The reason, I was able to use my film lenses on this camera so I kept my costs down. Everything transferred that I needed. This camera however has a built in flash. That is convenient but I like the bounce better. More control. Yea, this camera also has a hot shoe so either one can be used.

This past summer I went to Mid-Ohio again. This time with the digital and all the gear. Lug, lug. Camera bag, two lenses, mono pod, umbrella (it rained off and on), food and drink because the car can be a long ways off. Great time but I'm an amateur, not a track photographer with the vest and three cameras banging together to take shots.

A couple of weeks ago one of the local camera shops had a three day sale, with vendors on site. I had just read about an all in one lens that covered my two lenses plus some. I took my camera and lenses to do the comparo thing. Yea for me. I thought about the Canon lens but wound up getting the new Tamaron 18.0- 270mm http://www.tamron.com/B003special/index.html. In film it equates to an 18mm /410mm. It is a macro so I can take pictures as close as 19" from the center of the camera body to the object. It even has a anti shake for the semi long hand held exposures. You can turn this on or off, heck, mine is always on. I'm older, I have to do the breath and hold, or in my case let it out, to steady myself more today that in days past. I really love this lens. I am just getting use to it and it has made me do more reading and experimenting with my camera than ever before. I now want to learn my camera. I have been looking for places to actually take some courses in photography. I may even join a photo club.

I will post some shots on this site starting today. What is real interesting with digital is that you can edit what you took if it didnt' come out the way you wanted it to or you want to make some changes. You can enhance to picture to the way you thought you saw it. Here, I need to acknowledge my son-in-law. He's an industrial designer and graphic designer with a world of talent. He sat down with me while visiting one day and showed me shortcuts and how to's in 30 minutes that have been so much help. I'll bend his ear again and show him some stuff and let him advance me some more.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Delphi, GM, Out of Bankruptcy

I guess it's official, Delphi, my former employer, is out of bankruptcy. Four years.

They really went into their final approach this past February when they asked the courts to let them cancel the health care and life insurance of their salaried workers. We, I'm one of them, received a Fed-Ex package almost to the day of their IPO status of 2/5/99. We were given 30 days to make life changing decisions, to find alternate plans and policies for our health care, life insurance and extended care coverage. Those of us that had pre-existing conditions had no choice. Pay the full bill, which there are many who already pay these high fees but we weren't use to this. Some would never have life insurance again, pre-existing conditions make this financially impossible to have. We were never asked to pay more if needed, the bill just went up. But to go up almost 1500% in your budget, in one month, was very hard to handle. We were promised, in a handshake agreement, that we would have these benefits until we reached 65 when medicare kicks in.

We were told we would have supplemental pension monies until we turned 62 and then you would file for social security. On July 31 Delphi and the PBGC decided that the pension should be in the hands of the PBGC which means those not old enough to draw SS were going to loose even more, maybe as much as 50% of their income. Someone that was anywhere from 55 to 62 was going to have a problem. Most of those that were in the youngest group were not ready to retire. They were forced out and hadn't found work yet. This is the economy from hell. They could possibly have kids in college, mortgages, trying to find healthcare, etc.

Well, those that were in charge fared very well with their special retirement packages. They were charged with crimes but got off with slaps on the wrist. They have large homes which are in their wives names. They have even had the nerve to ask the courts to have Delphi pay for their legal fees. They requested approximately 10 million dollars in aid.

Now Delphi is out of bankruptcy, most likely with the help of taxpayer monies through GM. Now, we have an American company with no manufacturing plants in the United States. They will be supplying GM with parts for the cars that are made stateside and off shore. Unfortunately, more and more of the GM brands are being made off shore. Unfortunately GM has even helped some of our tire companies close or have lay-offs this year because they have chosen to buy foreign (Chinese) tires to put on their automobiles. Thank you Mr. and Mrs. Taxpayer.

If you want to know who or what Delphi is, google Delco Products. Home of the first shock absorber. Founded in Dayton, OH. This was their name before being split off from GM. They were also Harrison Radiator, the maker of the automobile air conditioner. Inland, two locations in the Dayton area, made the interiors and safety devices for GM. Delco Moraine supplied the brakes. Fractional electric motors as well as electromotive motors for the railroad trains were made in Kettering, OH, another Dayton suburb. Other suspension parts came from Michigan and the list goes on and on. Delco was a big part of GM.

Must appologize

Wow, I didn't remember to update the posting of the project. I'm not going to put the picture up because, well no one has posted a question as to what it is. Just in case someone does read this and wants to know, it was a tote designed as a tool box. The board with the hole in it is the top board and the hole is nothing more than a finger hole for pulling it out to get to the items in the bottom part. The pieces that look like the end of a house are the ends of the box. Two pieces look similar are the sides and then the odd large piece is the bottom. I cut a hole in the ends and put a 3/4" dowel rod in for a handle.

If I still have a picture or get in the mood I will put a posting of the finished product up.

Also, just for info, two people got close in guessing and one actually called it a tool box.

Purpose, to be able to put a few tools and helpful parts in it for working around the house. I have tools in the basement and in the garage but I hate to have to walk to get the most common thing that I should have with me but my hands were too full to carry everything.

No excuses now.