Thursday, July 30, 2009

Tire Balancing Alternative

Lead is banned in many states from being used for tire balancing. Not internal tire-balancing beads that are used on some 4x4 tires. Some ingenious Mexican's have found an all-natural alternate: 137 pounds of a particular herb.

My wife was recently interviewed as part of a background check for a neighbor that was applying for a job with the U.S. Border Patrol. According to National Defense magazine, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) aims to increase the number of border personnel to 20,000 by September. This is up from 12,000 in 2006. The objective was initiated two years ago by former President George W. Bush to inhibit cross-border smuggling and border jumping. Read more about this particular bust here.

For extra reading - check out "The 7 Most Ingenious (And Insane) Smuggling Techniques" article at The "Human Captain's Chair" was my favorite. My least favorite was the "Cocaine Jesus" - a seven-pound molded statue in the shape of an idol. The elderly Mexican woman was paid $80 to transport the statue across the border. Estimated street value - $200,000.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

American Success Story - Pius Nyamora

In 1994, while working as Manager of a Ritz Camera & One Hour Photo in suburban Detroit, I placed an ad in the local newspaper for a sales position. A man called in response to the advertisement - I marked his name in my Franklin Planner for the following day at noon ... Pius Nyamora.

The interview was unlike any other that I had ever had. Pius spoke more with his eyes than his voice. We didn’t discuss his qualifications – we discussed his story. His life’s journey. Where he had been and why, at the age of 44 year, he was sitting here seeking a job for near minimum wage.

Pius told of his writing and critical views of the oppressive Kenyan President Daniel arap Moi’s government. How, as editor and publisher of Society, Pius sought greater democratic accountability in the Kenyan government. He spoke of government oppression, of being unlawfully arrested for speaking out against Moi and the fire-bombing of his office. Of how he and his wife, Loyce were granted political asylum in the United States. But asylum doesn’t pay the bills.

Pius was struggling to make ends meet selling Kenyan curios they brought with them. It was obvious he needed a job. Explaining his qualifications to my superior was another matter. The Regional Manager, Chuck Crawford was somewhat skeptical of his sales ability, but gave me the choice none-the-less. I took it and hired Pius rather than the other candidates.

In my twenty-seven-year-old eyes Pius was a hero. He believed in democracy and often talked fondly of his homeland and people. Pius also believed in what many call the American dream. Ritz Camera declared bankruptcy this year, but Pius now has two master’s degrees, teaches at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg, and is an expert in local and foreign policy, democracy, immigration and diversity issues.

The collective melting pot of America is stronger for giving Pius and his family domicile from the oppressive Moi government. Pius is a survivor and I am blessed for having known him and perhaps helping in the smallest way get established in the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Barrel Monster Creator Seeks Freedom

Q. What is orange and white and makes you grin from ear to ear? A. The clownishly clever Barrel Monster creations of Joseph Carnevale. Carnavale, a 21-year old North Carolina State University student, is facing destruction of property and larceny charges related to his 10-foot street art creation. The construction company, Hamlin Associates, didn't want to press charges - and even relished the attention it drew to the company. Unfortunately the prosecuting attorney is not keen on dropping charges. Three sites have recently popped up on Facebook, as well as an AP story on YouTube. Groups are already commissioning work by Carnavale for added publicity. My favorite traffic cone creation by Carnavale is the barrel alligator. Fresh and clever to say the least.

If you don’t want to see anyone go to jail over the now infamous Barrel Monster, please call or send a letter to Wake County Prosecutor C. Colon Willoughby, Jr.

Tenth Prosecutorial District
State of North Carolina
8th Floor, Wake County Courthouse
Post Office Box 31
Raleigh, N.C. 27602-0031
telephone (919) 792-5000