Monthly Archives: May 2012

Happy Memorial Day

I’m going to celebrate mine by taking the track bike out to Texas World Speedway with RideSmart! Going to hang out with the guys and grrrls from WFO Riders.

A HUGE thank you to my wife Deborah for being so patient and tolerant with me, and not complaining when I run off to enjoy my 3rd childhood.

Law could be used to seize musicians’ guitars, may need ‘fix,’ senator says

It’s like the McCarthy era for wood and guitars. This is from Fox News.

Could federal law be cited to confiscate the instruments of American artists traveling abroad for the summer concert season?

If so, federal law is going to need a little tweaking, Sen. Lamar Alexander said.

“I don’t want the musicians from Nashville who are flying to Canada to perform this summer to worry about the government seizing their guitars,” Alexander, R-Tenn., said Friday in a statement released by his office.

Why seize guitars? Because many of those instruments are made from exotic woods that were outlawed by a 2008 amendment to the Lacey Act, an amendment Alexander himself wrote. In 2008, Alexander and fellow Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Wash., moved to protect the American forest products industry by adding wood to the century-old Lacey Act – which was passed to protect endangered birds, whose feathers were prized for ladies’ hats.

American timber companies were being unfairly undercut by foreign sources of wood, many of which were illegally logged. Environmental groups also supported the amendment for curbing illegal logging in rainforests by imposing criminal penalties for trading in endangered species of wood.

After pointed questions from Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and other lawmakers, the U.S. Department of Justice and the Fish and Wildlife Service sent a letter assuring musicians that they would not be targeted for “unknowingly” possessing instruments that were manufactured from illegal wood. But Alexander wants to make clear that the Lacey Act “was not intended to seize instruments made of wood harvested before 2008.” He said he and Wyden plan to write a letter to the federal agencies to clarify that point.

Alexander said he hoped to reduce “confusion, uncertainty and paperwork for wood importers and musical instrument manufacturers through administrative regulation.” Failing that, he promised he and Wyden would move to amend the Lacey Act.

Without indicating how he felt about Gibson’s guilt or innocence regarding the 2009 and 2011 seizures, Alexander dipped a toe in that water, saying, “We held this roundtable because instrument makers like Gibson Guitars in Tennessee are an important part of our music industry. And if the Lacey Act as written is keeping them from being able to get the wood they need to make instruments, we need to make every effort to fix the regulation.”

That has to be music to Gibson’s ears, which has had to switch to alternative woods, even composite materials, because they have been unable to import Indian ebony and rosewood since last year’s raid. Buyers of their expensive, high-end products are picky about the type of wood that is used in a Gibson guitar. Gibson is concerned it may lose market share to other manufacturers if it can’t resupply with Indian woods.

The acknowledgement that the Lacey Act may need “fixing” is a significant development in the dispute surrounding Gibson, exotic woods and the musical instrument industry.  And months after the raid against Gibson, there is still no word from the Justice Department whether the company will even face charges.

Honda creates a butt-steered Segway with the Uni-Cub rolling stool

Ok, pointless but very cool. Honda is a leader in robotics so this is a natural progression for them.


“No automaker keeps quite as many strange side projects afloat as Honda, which has everything from jet planes to walking robots underway in its engineering studios. On Tuesday, Honda revealed its plans for another company invention, a rolling stool it now calls the Uni-Cub which users steer by the seat of their pants. One can only hope for a racing version.

Designed to mimic the speed and height of walking, the Uni-Cub’s lithium batteries power a trick wheel that can move any direction. Using sensors on the seats, riders simply shift their weight in the direction they wish to travel — there’s also a smartphone control app —  and the unit rides high so that the riders have eye contact with people not cool enough to glide around the office up to 3.7 miles on a charge.

Honda says it will begin testing the Uni-Cub next month with a Japanese research museum. But like all great inventions, the true value of the Uni-Cub may lie well beyond the inventor’s concept. if Honda really wants to try it out, I’d suggest either a college dorm or a preschool, someplace where riders will test the extremes of the self-balancing system. A drag race with a fire extinguisher-powered office chair would also be welcome.”

A Story About a Rabbit and the GPL

I’ve posted about the guys at in the past, these are the people that made affordable quadrocopter flight a reality for most people. The offer their code for free under GNU GPL (Open Source). You are free to use and modify and even make a profit with it as long as you keep it open and make your source code available. Very cool arrangement.

Unfortunately there is a controller called the Rabbit from China that has used the Multiwii source and is selling controllers for $100 and not releasing the source. A lot of people don’t care, they get a very well done flight controller for a good price and go on their way. Personally it pisses me off. It seems a LOT of people think it’s alright. I guess they wouldn’t mind driving a stolen car either, if they could get away with it. Here is the thread at RCGroups.

Cresson was a BLAST!

Two days till Cresson

Doing both days at the track at MSR Cresson with my buddy Reese. It’s going to be a blast! Here’s a pic from the last time we were there,

As always we’re riding with RideSmart. Go there, pick a day, and a track and JOIN US!

Oh yeah, the header image above was taken there also.