Story Time: The Opening Paragraph

They said it couldn’t be done.  But as I lie here, only hours away from death, I’ve proven them all wrong  …and right.

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Summer Fund Raising – July Update

No bites on the Hoosier trucker hat yet or the furnace burner.  Revised the long-standing listing for my autographed Bob Hope joke book, but no nibbles there yet either.

Have not heard back from the survey panel submissions.

No luck with the refrigerator recycling rebate program.  They are currently not taking fridges in my area.

I won a (pro-rated) $40 for finishing runner-up in Modern Muscle Sunday.  Would have been $100 if we had 32 cars in the field.  At least it covers my entry fee in that class.  Still down $40 (plus expenses) for Street ET, but it’s better than being -$80 on the day.

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Looking for new revenue streams this summer

The past 9 months have not ben kind to me from an expense respective, with some significant (and completely unanticipated) major repairs needed on the house.  With bills continuing to mount up I’ve decided to try some new revenue streams.

First up, selling my 2-yr old oil burner from my old furnace.  I placed the ad on Craigslist last week.  So far no hits (yes, I’m aware that it’s hard to sell a “winter item” when we’re in a heat wave, but the ads can be renewed until the item sells).

Next was the old standby – eBay.  Vintage Hoosier Racing Tires trucker cap?  Check.  I’ll add more items over the course of the summer.

Today I tried something different.  Instead of selling something physical I decided to sell something intellectual – my mind – by applying to some focus groups.  I found them on  You can search by state and then select whichever ones you think you’d qualify for.  Sign up and wait for them to get back to you with a yeah or nay.  Some pay a nominal $25-$35 in cash or gift cards.  Others pay pretty nicely.  I just missed the deadline to get on a 2-week study that pays $275.  Doh!  Hopefully I’ll get selected for some of the others that I applied to.

I’ll keep looking for more avenues as the summer progresses and let you know what I find.  Let’s hope this is the start of a nice new flow of extra cash.

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The Call for a New Electoral College

The Electoral College (EC) as we know it today was established in Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution and ratified in 1804 via the 12th Amendment.  Under this set-up each state gets is appointed the same number of electors as they have Representatives and Senators in Congress, with D.C. getting 3 electors.

The purpose of the EC was to (1) give smaller states the same power as more populous states and (2) to make sure that there was a buffer between the populace and the candidates so that only the qualified person would become President. Per Hamilton in the Federalist Papers:

“It was equally desirable, that the immediate election should be made by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice. A small number of persons, selected by their fellow-citizens from the general mass, will be most likely to possess the information and discernment requisite to such complicated investigations. It was also peculiarly desirable to afford as little opportunity as possible to tumult and disorder. This evil was not least to be dreaded in the election of a magistrate, who was to have so important an agency in the administration of the government as the President of the United States. But the precautions which have been so happily concerted in the system under consideration, promise an effectual security against this mischief.”

With few exceptions, most states require that the popular vote winner in that state gets all of the electoral votes, regardless of whether they win the popular vote by 70% or 45%. This leads to the potential disenchantment of voters when their candidate loses and their vote is therefore negated with 100% of the electoral votes in that state going to their opponent.

To add insult to injury, there have been 5 instances wherein the winner of the popular vote did not win the electoral vote:

  1. Andrew Jackson in 1824 (to John Quincy Adams)
  2. Samuel Tilden in 1876 (to Rutherford B. Hayes)
  3. Grover Cleveland in 1888 (to Benjamin Harrison)
  4. Al Gore in 2000 (to George W. Bush)
  5. Hillary Clinton in 2016 (to Donald Trump)

With Trump set to become President #45, this works out to 1 out of 9 Presidents (or 11%) being elected while having lost the popular vote. That’s too high a number!

While Republicans would be loath to change a system that allowed them to win the presidency twice in the last 16 years after having lost the popular vote, certain changes are still necessary. Some have called for the elimination of the Electoral College completely, but I think simple adjustments can be made that would preserve the intrinsic safeguards provided for by the EC while allowing for all votes to count.

Moving to a Proportionate System

In 2004 Colorado voted down a “proportional system” in which electors would vote proportionally based on the state’s popular vote. This was short-sighted, however, as a proportional system is exactly the fix we as a nation need.

Iowa has 6 electoral votes and in November 1,519,299 residents voted for a President. Trump won the popular vote with 51.7% of all votes.  But in awarding 100% of the electoral votes to Trump we had to tell 720,997 residents that their votes didn’t matter.  How is that fair?  In a proportional system Trump would have received 3 votes and Clinton 3.

In California there are 55 electoral votes up for grab. Last month Clinton led the state with 5,432,316 votes out of a total of 8,802,595 – good for 61.4%.  Yet she walked away with 100% of the electoral votes.  Here again we’re telling over 3.3 million people that their vote didn’t matter.  In a proportional system Clinton would have only received 34 of the votes while Trump would have received 18 instead of the zero he did get last month.

And remember Colorado? Trump would have picked up 2 votes, instead zero.

What’s Wrong with Oregon?

The Electoral system we have also causes candidates to focus on a select set of “Key Swing States” – OH, PA, FL, etc. – and ignore others like Oregon and Hawaii due to the concentration of electoral votes in these larger states. A true proportionate voting system would force candidates to visit far more states than they now do.  Trump did a better job of this than Clinton, but still fell far short of covering all 50 states.

The New Math

So what would a true proportionate electoral system have looked like in 2016?

  • TRUMP = 252
  • CLINTON = 255

Based on fractions and rounding, there would still be 10 electoral votes not accounted for in states like Virginia, West Virginia, and New York. So, to whom would these extra votes go to?  The fairest method that I can think of is to give the popular vote winner in a particular state any extra electoral vote from that state.

The final tallies would then look like this:

  • TRUMP = 252 + GA + ID + KS + MS + WV = 257
  • CLINTON = 255 + AZ + CO +  NM + NY + VA = 260

As you’ll see, neither candidate came away with the required 270 votes, BUT every vote counted and even the 3rd party candidates were validated with a total of 7 electoral votes.  The last time any 3rd party candidate received any electoral votes?  George Wallace won 46 votes in 1968 – that was almost a half-century ago!  [Note: Ross Perot received 19.7 million votes in 1992 but did not win any of the electoral votes].

This year both Clinton and Trump would have split the leftover electoral votes 5 apiece, preserving the lead for Clinton, but could just as easily swing in Trump’s favor by a few (as he famously stated) had both candidates campaigned harder in the non-swing states.

So What Happens Next?

When neither candidate wins the majority of electoral votes the selection of the President, that choice would then go to the House of Representatives. Conversely, the choice of Vice-President would then be decided by the Senate.

It’s all together possible that we might see a President from 1 party and a VP from another party elected into office. And it’s anyone’s guess as to who Congress would pick, but it’s interesting to consider.

And in the end every vote will have counted. Isn’t that what a true democracy is really all about?

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RaffleCopter Giveaways

This morning I was Goggling something completely unrelated when one of the results was a writers blog entitled The Attic Ghost.   Created by Kathy Finfrock, author of the novel House of Redemption, the site provides daily writing prompts for authors to help them hone their craft.  But it was what came with the prompts that caught my attention…

Each daily writing prompt will sponsor/feature a book at the end of the post.  It is a free service for authors wishing to promote their books.  I think this is a great promotional avenue.

And for readers there are the RaffleCopter Giveaways where you can earn plenty of chances to win free books, gift cards, and more.  Sponsored by the authors, you earn entries by following the author on Twitter or Facebook, tweeting about the book, and subscribing to mailing lists, just to name a few.

And, yes, I’ve already entered a few of the giveaways.

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Heavy Metal Hall of Fame

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland recently announced the members of their next class:

  • Joan Baez
  • Electric Light Orchestra
  • Journey
  • Pearl Jam
  • Tupac Shakur
  • Yes

While all are worthy of recognition (some more than others) not all of them scream “Rock and Roll”.  Tupac is rap/hip-hop.  And Joan is a folk legend.  There’s no KISS or Led Zeppelin in the Country Music Hall of Fame.  And there should only be rock artists in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Similarly, should there ever be a formal Heavy Metal Hall of Fame here are my choices for that Hall (HINT: Michael Jackson would never make the list):


  • Black Sabbath (original line-up)
  • Slayer
  • Judas Priest
  • Motorhead
  • Metallica


  • Celtic Frost
  • Megadeth
  • Venom
  • Iron Maiden
  • Death

In later years we’d see other notables like The Misfits, Helloween, Queensryche, Sepultura, Bathory, Anthrax, and of course Ozzy Osbourne inducted on his own as a solo artist.

Now if only the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame could keep to their namesake genre…

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Add Wells Fargo to the list of companies I will never again do business with

Most of you are probably aware of the controversy surrounding Wells Fargo, where unrealistic sales quotas “forced” employees to fraudulently set up multiple unauthorized accounts for existing account holders.  The accounts then were hit with service charges that the customers were unaware of – mainly because they didn’t even know these extra accounts even existed.  And according to the latest information, this practice had existed for over 10 years.  Customers were on record as having complained about fake accounts as far back as 2005.

This has prompted me to add WF to the list of companies that I will never patronize in any way.

They were already on the outs with me when they refused to allow a home owner to sell me her house via a short sale.  She had apparently defaulted on her mortgage AND a personal equity loan that she took out against the property.  Instead of taking a $75,000 write-off on the loss, the bank said that I had to pay that extra amount (which when added to our offer price was $75K OVER the appraised value of the property).  Needless to say, I walked away from the deal.  Five years later the house still sits empty and decaying due to neglect, it’s owner long-since moved away.  So instead of writing off $75K as a loss, the bank foolishly now sits on a property worth considerably less.

That was 6 months of my life I definitely could have done without.

Here, then, is a list of companies that I will never again patronize:

  • Wells Fargo Bank(see above)
  • General Motors – The way they mishandled the deadly recall issues of the past decade was nothing short of irreprehensible.  Their cars have a long history of defects, cheaply manufactured parts, and poor overall reliability.  I should know – I owned a used 1977 Camaro, a new 1995 GMC Jimmy 4×4, and a straight-from-the-factory custom-ordered 2002 Olds Alero that had a litany of inexcusable issues.
  • Musi Racing Engines – Years ago I paid them to build me a streetable racing engine for my weekend warrior.  It was a sizeable cost for me at the time.  Pat Musi, the owner, was doing well in the pro mod ranks with his “Popeye” car and his brother Ralph was a successful racer at my track.  The head work on my engine was good but the rest of the motor was garbage.  Right from the get-go there were issues, with the engine finally spinning the bearings and becoming nothing more than an oversized paperweight.  With the first signs of trouble (I hadn’t even raced it yet, it was still in commuter car mode) I contacted the shop only to be rebuffed by the douche who answered the phone.  They refused to be bothered and wouldn’t even look at it.  Later I found out that that experience and (lack of) quality level was not unique to me.  Others had gone through the same thing with them.

There are other companies – large and small – that have either since gone out of business or I’m just conveniently forgetting.  But as time goes on I will likely be adding to this list (unfortunately).

What companies have turned you off?

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Deep Search Metal Detecting Club – 25th Anniversary Open Hunt

I enjoy metal detecting.  I’m not very successful at it – especially when compared to the retirees at Deep Search that bring in tons of old coins and artifacts to the meetings every month – but I enjoy it when I can.  Last year I helped out with my first open hunt, where hunters pay a nominal fees to hunt a seeded field (in our case the beach at Seven Presidents Park in Long Branch, NJ) for coins, jewelry, and special tokens which are exchanged for special prizes (expensive new metal detectors, gold and silver coins, and more).

On September 17, DSMDC will be holding their 25th Annual Club Hunt at Seven Presidents Park.  Rain or shine, it promises to be our biggest event yet.


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Play All Day, Party All Night on National Bowling Day (Aug. 13)

When I was in high school I was a pretty good bowler.  I was in a league and tied a teammate for the 3rd highest score in the league (202).  Fast forward (mumble-mumble) years and I just don’t play as often anymore. But that might change on Saturday, August 13 – National Bowling Day.

Always held on the 2nd Saturday of August, NBD is a daylong celebration that includes a Charity Challenge, Free Bowling, Giveaways, and Food and Drink Specials at all Bowlmor AMF Centers Nationwide.

Get your bowl on!

Get your bowl on!

For more information and to find a participating alley near you, click here.

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Win a Free 1 Oz. Silver Coin from CoinWeek (CoinWeek Connections Giveaway #134)

Numismatic publication CoinWeek is at it again with another free weekly contest.  Last time I posted up about the awesome Terminator Silver Reverse Proof coin.  This time they are giving away another 1 oz. beauty in the form of a graded (MS-69) 2016 American Silver Eagle NGC MS69 ER (Black Core)

To enter, just click here.

This week’s giveaway runs until the end of the day on Sunday, August 7.  CoinWeek will post the winner’s name on their website ( and on their Facebook page.

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