"The history of man is a series of conspiracies to win from Nature some advantage without paying for it."
- Ralph Waldo Emerson

That sentiment could be restructured another way to include the series of conspiracies of the wealthy few to win advantage from the majority.

Of course we are paying… for it all. In refusing to respect the harmony of all species and environs, in all ways, we have arrived at a point that requires more than mere reflection. This comes as no surprise to most of us, is of no import to some of us, and is used to great advantage by a small but influential few of us. We need to change our thinking and our actions and make these changes a vital part of our existence; and all needs to happen with greater speed and results than we have evidenced to date.

Per a recent article in The Economic Times: "In the last 25 years wealth has become even more concentrated in the hands of fewer people so much so that one per cent of the world's families own almost half (46 per cent) of the world's wealth … Moreover, seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years."

Harry Belafonte spoke at the University of Michigan last month honoring the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birth. He urged us to find our moral compass (among numerous other things). It was a compelling oratory and we are, indeed, in sorry need of rousing and a plan for ourselves. As Mr. Belafonte pointed to, visionaries and leaders, those that minister to apathy and ambivalence, appear to be in short supply in this generation. Or maybe they just can't be heard in 140-character expressions. Whatever the combination of issues, we humans are failing to change the dire conditions that we have created with the kind of concentration, resolve, and steadfastness necessary for an equilibrium of species, earth, economy, etc.

Every small bit counts toward clemency, toward a truce, for beings and for the globe. Each thought, every act, each reexamination, is either of service and furtherance toward this universal clemency or not. Each time we ask ourselves what our values are and how best might we live them we do something more than avert our gaze. Every time we revisit our beliefs and check to see if we are actually translating them into actions we advance. If we aren't all engaged in a course of transformation, it begs my next question, "What the hell are we waiting for?"

I awoke the other morning fantasizing; one billion of us contributing $1.00 each could begin to reverse what others have wrought in the name of wealth and primacy or in the name, for instance, of Tea Party profiteering and propagandizing. We can become a tribe of resolute equalizers; the billion dollars going to educating the undereducated or cleaning up the air and water. How about preventing one more economically imperiled brother or sister from going to prison?

Each day requires attitude, a sense of collaboration, the realization that you, me, the environment, the species are without a wall between us; there is only interconnectedness. The online dictionary on my computer indicates that the second definition for integrity is, “the state of being whole and undivided; the condition of being unified and unimpaired; internal consistency, or lack of corruption…” Every day requires a sense of empowerment rather than defeat and each moment requires knowing that how you think, feel and believe is how you are and, how we are, and how our planet is.

Please tell me, where is the internal revolution within each of us so that externally, and non-violently, there is an orientation of revolt so steadfast that we might move mountains, figuratively, and actually clean the air, purify the water, educate rather than incarcerate? We have the means to get rid of the damaging practices, to feed all beings, to, generally, square it with one another. Anything we want to do is possible so I ask, "What are we waiting for?"

"There was a moment in our lives (or a month, or a year) when certain facts appeared before us, startled us, and then caused us to question beliefs that were strongly fixed in our consciousness – embedded there by years of family prejudices, orthodox schooling, imbibing of newspapers, radio, and television. This would seem to lead to a simple conclusion: that we all have an enormous responsibility to bring to the attention of others information they do not have, which has the potential of causing them to rethink long-held ideas", so said Howard Zinn a few years before he died. Additionally, he rightfully related, “Capitalism is a limited and limiting system and yet we are encouraged to believe that it birthed a ‘land of opportunity.’” People and equitable systems build opportunities. There are plenty of hard working people, some holding down a multitude of jobs, but they aren’t so much making it as making it unlikely that they will eek out anything more than mere existence from supposed “opportunity”.

The New Deal

We have the power; we elect officials, choose where to spend our money, can assemble and voice our concerns. Now, more than in any time in history, we can effect change quickly and without violence via swift and global means of communication and economic pressure. We have choices; so many in fact that in this century we are apt to forgo choosing out of profound feelings of futility and indifference. We need, however, to remember the power inherent in the act of choosing and keep doing so even when we might wonder at the degree of forward movement. What the hell are we waiting for?

Union of Concerned Scientists, Economic Times: World's 85 Richest People Own Nearly Half of Global Wealth, Herb Block Foundation, Earth Policy Institute, Carbon Nation, Economic Times: Dalai Lama Calls for Dialogues to Solve Problems of Violence


2014 NHL Winter Classic: Questions for the NHL

In anticipation of the 2014 Winter Classic being held in Ann Arbor, along with The Puck Drops Here (the New Year’s Eve celebration in Ann Arbor), Benjamin Ludy and I posed a series of questions to the NHL. For the New Year’s Eve The Puck Drops Here event, METAL has designed and fabricated The Puck that will be lowered (we have an aversion to the word “drop” though we understand its hockey based intention) as we all count down to midnight. Throughout the duration of our time working on- and being around The Puck, we found ourselves intrigued by the sport of hockey and its piece of equipment we produced in our own fashion, and came up with some questions.

We thank the NHL and the AAACVB for our access and answering our questions, which enlightened us and provided us with some “insider” information to have while watching The Puck on New Year’s Eve or the puck on New Year’s Day.

1. Aside from Michigan Stadium being one of the largest capacity entertainment venues in the United States, what makes this venue interesting for the NHL and the players of the 2014 Winter Classic?

The answer to our first query comes directly from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman:
"The history of the teams' cross-border rivalry, the nobility of The Big House and the growing tradition of the NHL Winter Classic will raise the anticipation for this event to new heights. We are delighted to offer our fans a spectacle at which the energy will be unmatched and the demand for tickets will be unprecedented. For anyone involved in any way -- as a player, a coach, an official, a fan -- this NHL Winter Classic will be a truly memorable hockey moment."

2. What equipment is used to help the players and coaches stay warm in their respective benches? Is there any special attention paid to creating the ice and keeping it in regulation order in such a space as the Michigan Stadium?

Constructing an NHL-caliber ice rink outdoors at a facility designed for a sport other than hockey is a unique challenge. Much more than taking a garden hose into your backyard and flooding an area, for the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic® the National Hockey League uses special equipment, expertise and technology to create an ice rink fit for the best hockey players in the world.

The most important aspects of making outdoor ice for an NHL game are ensuring the conditions meet all of the safety standards required for the players and providing all of the tools necessary for an NHL game. To accommodate its outdoor games, the NHL designed and built a one-of-a-kind mobile refrigeration unit and rink system. The main function of the 53-foot, 300-ton capacity refrigeration unit is to perform the key function of making a great sheet of ice – to remove heat from the surface and stabilize the temperature.

To do this, the unit pumps as much as 3,000 gallons of glycol coolant into custom-made aluminum trays that are configured on the field of the stadium.

Running through a series of hoses from the refrigeration unit to the field, the glycol chills the trays in order to keep the ice near its ideal temperature – 22 degrees Fahrenheit. Following the placement of the ice trays, the rink boards are installed.

Once the boards are up and the ideal surface temperature is attained, the actual process of building the ice begins. In an NHL arena, the ice is built to a thickness of approximately 1-1.25 inches. An outdoor rink, however, requires up to 2 inches of ice thickness to help withstand the more extreme elements. While many speculate that it takes special water to create the ice, the water used is the same tap water provided into everyone’s homes.

Water is added as slowly as possible, in as fine a mist as the process will allow. Workers pass the spray wand over the ice rink hundreds of times, providing a more-even freeze and better-quality playing surface. Each inch of ice thickness requires approximately 10,000 gallons of water. For finishing touches, the ice surface is whitened using approximately 350 gallons of paint. The lines and logos then are painted and placed on the surface, with more ice built on top.

Once constructed, monitoring the status of the ice is a 24-hour job. To help this process, a high-tech system called Eye on the Ice is embedded in the surface. The technology provides updates on temperatures at different areas of the ice, signaling an alert prompting the need to pump more glycol or engage the in-line heating system in case the weather gets too cold.

3. Since METAL has designed and fabricated the New Year's Eve "PUCK" a little inside knowledge, history or factoids, concerning that hurtling piece of hockey equipment would be enjoyed.

Official pucks are made of vulcanized rubber. They are one inch (1'') thick and three inches (3'') in diameter and shall weigh between five and one-half ounces (51/2'' oz.) and six ounces (6 oz.). In the NHL, home teams are responsible for providing official pucks which are kept in a frozen condition by storing them in a freezer until they are used.

- Questions Submitted by Claudette Jocelyn Stern & Benjamin Ludy, M.S. Sport Management


October 2013

Enjoying one another’s fellowship, enriching one another’s lives, encouraging each other’s growth, those are the things I look for in my friendships, associations, partnerships and collaborations.

As I sit, on this damp, lovely grey, autumn Saturday, in my place of work, my place of vocation more accurately, I know fulfillment in all that I do. As I revel in the changing and falling leaves, it is, at this passage in my life, easy to see my course: always aiming for fulfillment, from that which emerges from peace and happiness and gratitude for what my life, my living, holds.

Even my neighbor, Lisa (Pot & Box: potandbox.com) reminds me of the fulfillment that arises from this so-called life of supposed coincidence and kismet. She bounds in full of enthusiasm for, and enjoyment in, what her associate has created for a wedding bouquet. We marvel at our businesses and our nearness.

I say, “If the synergy ain’t there then get to a there that’s got it,” (or as Fred says, “Remove the negative”)! Liberate yourself from what is gloomy and discern for yourself that which has an inspiring and radiant energy. The “good vibrations” of the Age of Aquarius are no joke. When the place or the person registers as pleasing, there is greater health, success and well-being. Fulfillment and satisfaction, that is my pillar; that’s what I am pondering today… as the leaves fall and the sky darkens and the free-spirit rises.