Tuesday, November 20, 2018

UFOs come to Detroit

Alien fantasy - Photo from Pixabay
My closest friends, family, and work colleague already know about this. However, I figure it's time for the entire world to know: I have written a science-fiction novel entitled The Roswell Chronicles and it has been published in both Kindle and paperback formats.

The Roswell Chronicles series tells the story of Samantha Haut and her cousins as they find themselves caught between a group of greedy Wall Street bankers and some pissed off aliens from outer space.

Ever since the Roswell crash in 1947, the Haut family has secretly held onto a series of journals that contain details of advanced alien technology. Whenever the family has needed money, they quietly sold one of the inventions in those pages.

This is fine until an investment banking executive learns about these journals, steals them, and begins selling the technology much faster to generate more profits.

The problem here is that the Haut family was never supposed to have those journals. They were supposed to be returned to the aliens more than a half-century ago under the terms of the secret Roswell Treaty between the aliens and the United States government. If and when the aliens learn that those journals are still in existence - which becomes much more likely once a whole bunch of their technology hits the market - they will undoubtedly be back.

And they won't be happy.

Cover of the Kindle edition of
The Roswell Chronicles
The Roswell Chronicles is currently available on Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle formats. Readers can actually see the first chapter of my novel for FREE on Amazon.com by simply clicking where it says "look inside", which is right above the image of my book.

I want to thank everyone in advance for taking a look at my science-fiction novel The Roswell Chronicles, which is available here. The first few reviews of my book have been glowing. I'm actually a little surprised by all of the unsolicited 5-star reviews that readers have given it so far.

I may be a little biased - or maybe even more than a little - but I believe that The Roswell Chronicles would make for an excellent Christmas gift for anyone on your list who loves to read.

Friday, November 16, 2018

Detroit Board of Police Commissioners: A national example

As communities across the United States continue to struggle to balance the demands between fighting crime and holding police officers accountable for inappropriate conduct - that is "policing the police" - one of the more frequently cited examples of it being done right is Detroit with its Board of Police Commissioners.

In fact, the NBC affiliate in Dallas-Fort Worth recently did a story which examined precisely how the Detroit model is successful.

After all of these years of Detroit being scorned in the national news media, I have to admit that it feels good to see coverage like this.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Friends of Rouge Park to meet

Save Rouge Park sign - Photo by Frank Nemecek
The nonprofit advocacy group Friends of Rouge Park will hold their next general meeting on Tuesday, November 20. This gathering will happen from 6 - 7 p.m. in the Westside Christian Academy (9540 Bramell St.).

Items on the agenda for this meeting include updates on upcoming plans and goals for 2019 as well as an update on the Sorensen signage project. There will also be elections for the board of this organization.

Everyone who is interested in the future of the largest park in Detroit is welcome to attend this meeting.

Michigan named the best place for fall foliage

Fall foliage in Michigan - Photo by Madison Shealy
Those of us who live in Michigan know how spectacular the leaves around these parts get every autumn. Now, however, it looks like the rest of the country has discovered this portion of what makes Michigan magical.

For the third year in a row, Michigan has been named the best place in the United States to see fall foliage in Nikon's fall foliage competition. While the Great Lakes State came in first place again, New York came in second place while Colorado placed third. There were also some impressive entries from California, New Hampshire, Tennessee, and Utah in this contest.

“Now in its fourth year, this campaign continues to provide a platform for people to show their state pride through photography that displays the natural beauty of our country, while also highlighting the uniqueness of autumn in each individual state,” explained Lisa Baxt, Associate General Manager of Communications, Nikon Inc. in a prepared statement.

I could fill this blog with words about how spectacular the fall colors are in Michigan. However, I think it's best to let the pictures speak for themselves. They, after all, are why Michigan has been named the best place for fall foliage three years in a row.

Fall in Michigan - Photo by Thomas Bos
I love this photo by Thomas Bos. It perfectly captures the beautiful colors that are found across Michigan every season. Adding a dog into the photo really gives a sense of scale to this scene.

Michigan road in autumn - Photo by Shannon Hart
This photo of a Michigan road in the fall by Shannon Hart is spectacular. In my opinion, there's something about a long stretch of empty road that invites one's imagination to ponder what is just over that hill or around the next bend.

I believe this is one of the reasons why we as humans are natural explorers of our environment. The fact that the road is enveloped by the wonderful colors of fall foliage in Michigan simply takes her photograph to the next level.

More than anything, this photo inspires one to take a long road trip through Michigan.

Michigan river in the fall - Photo by Izzy Cagalawan
I love the fact that Izzy Cagalawan incorporated a gently flowing river in this landscape of fall foliage. I feel that it adds a dimension to this photo that is missing from most other landscape photographs of Michigan.

Michigan is, lest one forget, a state that is defined by water in many ways. There are more than 11,000 lakes throughout the state, according to the Michigan Historical Center. In fact, no matter where one is this state, a person is never more than six miles from a body of water and never more than 85 miles from one of the Great Lakes.

All of this makes me look forward to 2019 when Michigan will presumably win the Nikon fall foliage competition for the fourth time.

Friday, November 09, 2018

First snowfall of the year

One of the first things that I saw this morning, before I even looked outside, was a cheerful message on Facebook from an old friend of mine from high school who happens to run a snowplow business.

Even if you're not excited about the first snowfall of the season in Detroit, I hope all of my readers are able to confront the day with the same level of enthusiasm as my friend Wayne has about it.

Happy Friday, everyone!

Tuesday, November 06, 2018

Record voter turnout in Warrendale

I voted - Photo by Frank Nemecek
Today is the day.

Today is the midterm election; where we will choose a new governor for Michigan, a new Member of Congress to replace the retired John Conyers, as well as a new state representative and state senator. All of this is in addition to deciding who will be our United States Senator and a host of other elected offices at the state and local levels.

Precinct 337 in Detroit, which is a portion of the Warrendale neighborhood that is south of W. Warren Ave. and closer to the Southfield Freeway, is reporting record voter turnout today. The number of people showing up is eclipsing not only a normal midterm election but is better than normal for when there is a presidential race.

The other precincts in Warrendale - as well as the rest of the Detroit area - seem to have rather large voter turnouts.

Polls will still be open for another couple of hours. Let's keep it going, Detroit.

If you haven't already voted, please get out and do so.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Gas prices in Michigan hit 7 month low

Gas pump - Stock photo from Pixabay
Drivers across Detroit and the rest of Michigan are finding the lowest prices at the pump since April. According to a survey conducted by AAA of Michigan, the state average price for a gallon of regular unleaded is $2.72, which is 39 cents less than this year's high and the same as this time last year.

The AAA of Michigan survey also showed that gas prices continued their downward trek last week, declining another 9 cents.  The state average declined for the 10th consecutive day on Sunday, for a total discount of 12 cents.

The most expensive gas price averages were found in Marquette at $2.89, Ann Arbor at $2.81, and Metro Detroit at $2.76. In contrast, the least expensive gas price averages were in the Grand Rapids-Muskegon-Holland area at $2.65, Benton Harbor at $2.66, and Jackson at $2.66.

"Michiganders are saving 40 cents per gallon, compared to when gas prices peaked during Memorial Day weekend," explained Nancy Cain, spokesperson, AAA - The Auto Club Group. "Gasoline is becoming less expensive to produce-and-sell thanks to lower crude prices and cheaper-to-produce winter blend fuel. Retail prices have not quite caught up with declines on the wholesale side, so motorists should see another round of discounts this week. However, fuel prices definitely have the potential to reverse course based on any fluctuations in the stock market due to Election Day and the activation of U.S. sanctions against Iranian crude. Regardless, AAA believes the highest prices of the year are behind us."

Why are Crude Prices Falling? 
Crude oil prices are hovering near 7-month lows. On Friday, WTI settled at $63.14 per barrel - nearly $4.50/b less than the week before, and the lowest daily settlement since April 6, 2018. The weekly average price for U.S. crude has declined the past four consecutive weeks. Before then, crude prices faced upward pressure amid growing concerns that U.S. sanctions against Iranian crude would cause a global supply shortage. However, those concerns are being quelled by increased production by countries like the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Russia.

Crude production in the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and Russia all remain strong. U.S. oil inventories rose for the sixth consecutive week, according to weekly data from the Energy Information Administration. Domestic supplies rose 3.2 million barrels from the week before. Meanwhile, gasoline inventories dropped by 3.2 million barrels. Meanwhile, OPEC production levels for October reportedly reached the highest output levels since 2016 as some members boosted production in preparation of the Iran sanctions.

More on U.S. Sanctions Against Iran
Friday, the Trump Administration announced the U.S. would re-impose sanctions on Iran that were lifted in 2015 under the Obama Administration. The sanctions, which will go into effect on November 5, 2018, target the Iranian energy sector and impede Iran’s ability to sell oil.

According to the Energy Information Administration, Iran ranks as the world’s fourth-largest reserve holder of oil. Iran also ranks among the world’s top 10 oil producers, producing almost 4.7 million b/d of petroleum and other liquids in 2017. While Iran is an oil powerhouse, Saudi Arabia (9%) and Iraq (6%) are the top two OPEC countries exporting to the U.S. and two of the top five countries overall that sell oil to the U.S.

In May, when the decision to re-impose oil-related sanctions was announced, the market reacted quickly with crude oil prices peaking at $77 per barrel this summer. As the crude market saw big upward price swings due to concerns about restricted global supply, Iran started to feel the impact on oil exports. According to the Trump Administration, Iran went from exporting 2.5 million barrels per day in May to 1.5 million barrels per day in October and over twenty countries have reduced their imports of Iranian oil to zero. Exports are expected to drop further, but not immediately.

Bloomberg reports that the U.S. has granted temporary waivers to eight countries - including Japan, India and South Korea - allowing them to continue to import Iranian oil. Those receiving the waiver are expected to continue cutting imports.