All posts for the month May, 2015

I’ve been trying to learn about taxation in my current home state of MI due to today’s vote on Proposal 15.1 – the road tax mess. I learned enough to vote NO. Here is something that I realized early on and that I think is key to Michigan’s problem: Michigan has a bad habit of slicing and dicing tax revenue so to make the name of the tax and what it supports pretty much completely unrelated.

In most states, a fuel tax goes to pay for road construction, a school tax goes to pay for schools, and so on. But not in Michigan. In Michigan, the fuel tax pays some portion to roads, some to schools, and some to other programs. Nearly every tax levy in Michigan has a slice taken out to fund schools. This obviously helps get the tax passed (think of the children!), but in reality, it makes it almost impossible to use the tax for what it was intended for. Hence our road situation – the fuel tax has been sliced and diced so much that it no longer has any positive impact on road funding. But the children!

Had the state legislature put their collective foot down and said “you know, we’re going to shift the slicing around and make the road tax on fuel actually 100% for road repairs and size it appropriately” and then called it a day, the citizens of Michigan would likely be voting YES. Instead, they made the slicing even more complex (and expensive, and progressive).

Hopefully, today, my co-residents will also say NO to this absolute cluster of taxation and send the legislature back into session with a mandate to do something useful.

I was back in Germany again for the last two weeks.

The Jeep Renegade is a huge hit over there. Not only did I see a bunch of them, but all in nutty loud colors and parked to be seen. I like this vehicle a lot and I think FCA hit a home run with it. The popularity in Germany is proof.

Motorcycle parts are far more widely available, as usual. I managed to warp a rear rotor (yes, I actually warped it) due to the crappy Brembo 11mm master cylinder corroding again. In the US, the best fit rotor is the stock BMW one, for $248. EBC makes one that I haven’t seen yet for about $150. The OEM TRW rotor is a whopping 68€ from Louis. Yes, I brought home a brake rotor. The CBP guy who stamped my passport back in looked at his deskmate and said “I clearly need to go over there and buy some parts.” Yes, you do, Mr CBP Officer. A set of matching TRW pads cost a whole 37€. With the exchange rate at stupid lows, that was a no-brainer. I haven’t really addressed the spares situation in the past, but thanks again to Motorrad Alexander who delivered an annoying piece of wiring harness to my desk for 20% of the cost new. It’s in great condition and should resolve some nagging issues I have with harness damage on the BMW. I’ll be repairing the old one and saving it for the other frame.

Eggs. When you go to the breakfast buffet in Germany, the scrambled eggs are real eggs. I forgot how awesome this is until we went to San Antonio for a long weekend a few weeks ago and had the American version made from powdered eggs. Not even close.

I always forget how much I miss riding the trams and walking everywhere. It’s sooooo nice. A totally different kind of mobility.

I do have a gripe with airline food. I have Celiac disease, which can suck for a variety of reasons. One of them is airplane food. I finally figured out what is going on with the grilled chicken breast, broccoli, and rice that I get on every. single. flight. It’s not only gluten-free, it’s Kosher, Halal, lactose-free, low sodium, and whatever else you can come up with short of vegetarian/vegan. It’s also generally flavor-free and boring. Everyone else gets something different each flight, I get that damn grilled chicken. I have to beg for butter, explaining that I am not lactose intolerant or anything else. I do love the rolls that I get on the flight home, they are way the hell better than the rice cakes I get on the flight out. One positive note is that Delta flight attendants, pursers, and stewards are generally quite food allergy aware. This time, I was able to get scam an ice cream and it arrived with no cookie! I know that the airlines are kind of dependent on LSG or whoever their food service contractor is, so I don’t want to come off as bagging on Delta. But I would like some fancy food once in a while!

I was counting cars in the parking lot for a project and discovered that Germans like big window glass just as much as Americans do. I wonder if the area of the greenhouse is why people here like SUVs so much? With sedans losing glass at every increasing rates, it seems that eventually the only way to get a real rear window will be in a minivan or other xUV. Hmmm. Now I want to call hatchbacks UUVs – urban utility vehicles. I guess minivans would then be FUVs – family utility vehicles. Let’s tacticool name all the vehicles!

I was completely shopped out from my last trip, but not enough so to avoid looking in the windows at Hein Gericke. Oh, damn, another pair of gloves – from Richa and size Ladies’ XL. What a concept – I have a difficult time finding gloves with long enough fingers, hopefully these will do it. Thankfully, LS2 seems to be doing a great job of bringing HG back into form. The new assortment is quite attractive and continues the tradition of high-end product lines.

I (finally) learned how to pronounce Garching. I used to say /gar’ shing/. Now I say /gar’ hing/. With that silly-sounding Bavarian hissing H.