How I almost made a product demo video

How I almost made a product demo video

My friend Pat Doran invited me to lunch last month to talk over his latest invention.  Using a lot of brain power, research, and most of his potential retirement fund, he’s come up with a much better way to lubricate the drive chain of both motorcycles and bicycles. We discussed the applications and marketing of his product, and I volunteered to make a product demo video for him.

I’ve done a fair amount of both TV and radio work, so I was not too concerned about this. On the day we set for taping, I spent some time turning my garage into a “studio.” I maneuvered my Triumph Speed Triple around until the angle was just right, and in the video you can see that my garage looks like a place where work on cars and motorcycles might take place. This is a bit ironic, since 99% of the “work” I do on cars and motorcycles involves soap, water, wax, Armorall, and… a credit card.  Maybe WD 40 or a small screwdriver if I’m adventurous.

Pat showed up and went through the steps to use the Velocity system. We made the video in two or three takes, explaining what it does and how it works.  We were ready for the final shot, where I was to put the device on the chain of my bike and clean it. I struggled to get it around the chain, and immediately assumed that this was but another in a long line of simple mechanical tasks, like installing a light bulb, that would frustrate the heck out of me.

While I was struggling, I heard a low moan and an “Oh no,” from Pat. He sounded like a man who had just discovered that his pet dog had been run over by a bus. I knew we had a big problem.

Turns out that he did the research on various types of chains and designed the device to fit all of them – almost.  There are some high horsepower bikes that use a 530 chain, and a Triumph Speed Triple is one of them. At 135hp, it is actually not all that out there in terms of horsepower, but perhaps the Triumph design boffins wanted to over-design in this area. That may be why I get 24,000 miles out of a chain that is entirely exposed to road dirt and grit and rain. I ride it in the rain enough that every time my friends at Triumph of Seattle go to change the plugs, they remark on how difficult they are to get out, as they have rusted in place.  It seems I am the only Speed Triple rider to have this problem.

Fortunately, almost all motorcycles use a chain narrower than a 530, and the device will fit them. A panel slides in to make the channel narrower so it can be used on all bicycles.  My bike and others big bangers will need to wait for an addition to the line somewhere down the line with a slightly wider body to accommodate humongous chains.

Pat has now made his web site live, and “early adopters” get a price cut on the cost.  It is well made, cleverly designed, and just the thing for someone who wants to treat their chain well and extend its life.  I think dirt bike nuts would especially appreciate Pat’s work.

Later he made a second video for his web site that is much simpler and better than my effort – and complete!

You can learn all about the product and order it on his site at:

http://www.chainlubersystems.com/

You can watch my video at:  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbVYkX8r5vA

 

Copyright 2015       David Preston

 

 

 

Posted in Marketing, Motorcycles | 1 Comment

2015 Summer Motorcycle Trip #1 – the 6th and final (?) draft

2015 Motorcycle Adventure –  Draft #6

Leaving July 10th:

#1:     Seattle to Enumclaw to 410 to Yakima                 150 miles

Yakima to 97 to Bend                                               220 miles

Bend to La Pine                                                         32 miles

                                                                                                   402 miles

#2:     LaPine to Klamath Falls on 97                              110 miles

Klamath Falls to Canby on 139                             75 miles

Canby to Burney on 299                                        70 miles

Burney to Grass Valley                                          120 miles

Grass Valley to Auburn                                          20 miles

                                                                                                   395 miles

#3:     Auburn to Los Gatos/ Santa Cruz                         160 miles

———————————————————————————-

Note:  I have a place to stay in Los Gatos  (daughter) but do not have accommodations for anyone else

My day trips in California

  1. Getting lost between Los Gatos and Santa Cruz
  2. Visit to Irene at Preston’s Chocolates in Burlingame
  3. Tour of the Monterey Peninsula
  4. Possible day of rest

———————————————————————————–

Return:

#1.     Santa Cruz to Fort Bragg on 101                          320 miles

#2      Fort Bragg to Willits on 20

101 to Gold Beach                                               330 miles

#3.     Gold Beach to Reedsport on 101

38 to I-5 – I-5 to home                                      460 miles

 

  • Copyright 2015                            David Preston
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Nelson-Rigg E-mail ad blitz

Here is the piece I wrote for Nelson-Rigg last month. Now out in an e-mail ad blitz, but I could not figure out how to transfer the pictures!

Preparing for Riding Season

Depending on where you reside, winter may FINALLY be abating.

Or not.

Or you don’t have to deal with it.

Or you ride all year, no matter the conditions. Many Nelson-Rigg customers ascribe to the adage that “There is no bad weather – just bad gear.”  And Nelson-Rigg is here for you!

However, many motorcyclists prefer to wait for what they term the “riding season.” This can vary all over the place as to dates but generally includes mild temperatures and a relative lack of wet stuff.

If you’ve not ridden for some time, it’s a good idea to prepare for the ecstasy to come.  After all, perfect preparation prevents poor motorcycle performance.  And by performance, I mean you, your bike, and your gear. Let’s take a look at these three areas.

Body Maintenance:

Not to lecture about physical fitness, because irony will bite me in my butt, but a couple of items should be obvious.  Then again, perhaps they’re not, which is why I’m going to cover them.

If you’ve led a sedentary winter life with few opportunities for bear wrestling, mountain climbing, or running marathons, you need to pay some attention to your body. Not so much overall weight, but flexibility. It’s appalling how most of us can go through a work day and never turn our heads or stretch our arms and legs.  If you begin to simply spend some time each morning and evening doing basic stretching exercises, you will find your rides to be much more enjoyable.

Try this for an experiment. See how long you can stand on one foot. If that is too easy, close your eyes. I was advised to do this a few years ago and I was horrified at my ineptitude. Where did that come from?  Aging. Practice will take care of this and strengthen your core. It’s all good.

An even better idea, of course, is to get your saggy butt to the local Y or gym, or sign up for yoga or other classes. Anything to get your body moving and flexing.  Just taking a brisk walk each evening will bring positive results.

Getting off your bike after a ride all sore and aching is not fun. Nor is it safe. Fortunately, it is not required.

Head maintenance:

The same concepts that apply to your bod can also be used on your “brain muscles.”  If you’ve not been riding in the alternating monsoons and snow storms of the recent past your skills are now a tad rusty. Your bike handles differently than the car you’ve been droning to work in. Take the time to take a “test” ride and perhaps some low speed practice in a nearby school parking lot (hint – pick a time when the school is closed).  Can you do a tight circle with both feet up comfortably? When was the last time you tried to stop as efficiently as possible?  Even some practice backing the bike up with your feet would not go amiss. You need to re-train your brain to work with your muscles and sinews on the actions they will be asked to perform.

A better option would be to sign up for one or more of the offerings from the menu of training classes offered by the safe riding schools in your area. Most now offer several classes, and the basics class you took once upon a time could be revisited as an intermediate class or advanced. Some offer “cornering clinics,” which are track days with much of the testosterone drained off. A day spent focusing on cornering lines and body positioning will pay dividends all year.

Bike maintenance:

This can or should be easy.  Your motorcycle has an owner’s manual with maintenance schedules. Check and see where you are in the maintenance scheme of things.  If you are not adept mechanically  (the ineptitude rankings start here, with me pretty much unchallenged as #1), a local dealer or independent service outlet can take care of what your bike needs, whether a simple safety check-over, a service, or something more exotic. They will charge you for their expertise, as they should, but the season of riding peace of mind results is extremely worthwhile.

Gear check:

Where do you intend to ride this year? What will you need? With experience you’ll find that the list of what you want for your bike and on your bike will grow.

Several decades ago I took off on cross-country trips with virtually no thought at all.  I did not have a tire repair kit or a compressor or a first aid kit or a selection of tools or… pretty much anything. With this appalling lack of capability I rode between Minneapolis and Seattle twice, once to San Francisco and back (in late December!), and once from Seattle to Florida.

I was both stupid and very, very lucky, as I never had a serious problem. Now that I’m older and possibly wiser, I always carry a tire repair kit, a compressor, and a first aid kit.

Good news here. Murphy’s Law seems to work in reverse in addition to the usual. Because I have these things I have never had to use them.

I’ve made excellent use of Nelson-Rigg gear for several years.

Nelson-Rigg tank bag.  My latest one has been on my Triumph Speed Triple for over a year and has covered about 6,000 miles in sun and wind and rain and temperatures from the low 30’s to well over 100 degrees.  It looks brand new. The clear plastic map pocket is still clear, and the tank remains unmarked.

Nelson-Rigg tail bag. I use a magnetic Nelson-Rigg tank bag as a tail bag. It is at least ten years old. It has been used as a tank bag on bikes with steel fuel tanks and as a tail bag on many others. Even after a decade of use it looks brand new. This is especially remarkable on the Triumph, which has little in the way of a rear fender. The poor Nelson-Rigg is bombarded with a constant rooster tail of rain and mud and grit, and yet shows no wear. I live in the Northwest, where if you do not choose to ride in the rain you pretty much choose not to ride.

Nelson-Rigg rain suit:  On long trips I roll up an inexpensive Nelson-Rigg rain suit and stash it, just in case.   Nelson Rigg offers a wide variety of styles and suits for your selection.

Security:

So your bike is parked at a motel in a state far away. It looks so lovely sitting there as the evening gathers.  But – to miscreant locals it looks like opportunity.  While you sleep, a quick snatch and grab with a pick-up truck and you will probably never see it again.  Thieves rarely target a bike with a cover on it, figuring (probably correctly) that it is also equipped with a disk lock and an alarm. All of these things are available from Nelson-Rigg.

Other Stuff:

We can assume you already have “the basics,” – a jacket, boots, riding pants, and helmet.  Or not?  Time for some quality time perusing the catalogue!

Here’s a tip. I usually carry three pairs of gloves with me on any ride.  Warmer ones for the morning, a sturdy but light weight pair for high heat conditions, and a third pair for rain.

You will also find that once you invest in heated grips, or jacket or vest or gloves or socks, you will never again ride without them.  Even in the heat of summer, a ride over a mountain pass can get chilly, or much, much, worse.

How old is your helmet?  Is the liner capable of emanating odors that can be fatal to small animals?  It may be time to replace.

Always check the condition of your tires before the riding season, and often during it.  I have a friend who rides a lot, and he has two complete sets of wheels and tires for his bike. He puts on a fresh set of tires before any long trip.

If you’ve never had a pair of “real” riding boots you are in for a treat. The last three pair I have used were all completely and utterly waterproof.

Now for the most fun:

Break out the calendar and maps!  The roads beckon!  I used summer time trips to my advantage all year long. In the winter they are the “carrot” that gets me to the gym with some frequency. As spring arrives, the frequency tends to ramp up in anticipation.

Two months before I ride I let my local riding pals know of my intent. You may prefer to ride alone, but there are also advantages to traveling as a small group of two or three.  Even if none of your buds can get the time off to match your trip, you’ll all have fun yakking about your plans at length.

As a final note, the experienced rider will notice a subtle change in the Nelson-Rigg catalog over ten years or so ago.  There are now hundreds of products on offer designed by and for women riders. It’s all good.

David Preston

For more of David’s stuff, visit his web site at www.davidpreston.biz

 

Posted in Equipment, Marketing, Motorcycles | Leave a comment

How Biker Gangs Reduce Risk for the Rest of Us

How 1%ers Make Motorcycling Safer

First, some terms to differentiate. We have “motorcyclists,”  “bikers,” and “1%ers.”

The 1% actually number far less than 1% of the motorcycle population, due to the deft marketing savvy of Hell’s Angels long term president Sonny Barger four decades ago. 

As an aside, Mr. Barger has written several books in recent years.  Some are motorcycle how to books and some are novels, and all of them outsell mine by several magnitudes.

In any case, motorcycles are, for 1%ers, essentially props. They are not really all that interested in riding. They are all about drug sales, prostitution, extortion, and the ever-present threat of violence. The motorcycles deliver this message very forcefully, but in every gathering of 1%ers I have witnessed the motorcycles were merely parked while the members all stood around in intimidating groups.  They are very effective in that manner.

“Bikers” are people who, almost to a person, ride large air-cooled V-twin cruiser motorcycles. Virtually all of them are Harleys or other brands designed and styled to be virtual clones of Harleys. Many of these people are the nicest folks you could ever meet, but the preferred outfit strives for the “bad ass” look. Lots of black leather, black helmets, and perhaps decals on the helmet expressing mostly rude “humorous” statements.

“Motorcyclists” ride all sorts of motorcycles, from dual sport to sport bikes to sport tourers to tourers and even cruisers.  Their look is usually slanted toward “ATGATT” as a philosophy – all the gear, all the time. 

All of these groups share one attribute – costuming.  The 1%ers try to look as threatening as possible, the bikers are bad-ass, and the motorcyclists are adorned with gear to the maximum for their choice.  There is no harm in this, and we all do it.

Fashion is not necessarily logical. The “chaps” favored by 1%ers and bikers are really not suited for motorcycle use.  They were originally designed as leather coverings for the legs to protect cowboys from the thorns of chaparral bushes. The correct pronunciation is actually “shaps,” although that is now changing by mass usage to “chaps.”  The cowboys usually wore a long coat or serape over them in case of rain, which bikers do not use, so in the event of rain the water goes straight to the biker’s unprotected crotch area.

The all-black “rule” can have amusing consequences. I used to ride with the Great Northwest HOG chapter, some of the nicest people ever. On one of my first rides a member said to me, “You cannot ride a Harley wearing a yellow helmet.”  He was not entirely serious, but mostly.

I replied, “Watch me!” as I pulled on my bright yellow Arai.

Later, the dealership asked me to devote more of my time to HOG events. As it was time for a new helmet, I purchased a black Arai.  Then came the comment, “Oh no!  We liked the yellow helmet, because we always knew where you were.”

But all of these genres have their silliness. At one time I owned a Muzzy Raptor, a barely street legal superbike. I wore my full “race leathers” and a pair of extremely expensive race boots that were incredibly uncomfortable when walking.  I used this bike to go to events, where I spent my time standing and walking. I never raced it or did a track day. But golly, I looked fast!

In like manner, many sport bike riders endure wrist and back pain by riding bikes designed to look like road race winners in jammed traffic conditions.  Most such motorcycles are not comfortable at all until you’re riding well over the posted speed limit. At the extreme, the suspension on my Muzzy worked very well – at speeds above 80mph.

Many dual sport riders both in their personal dress and with farkles for the bike, appear to be off on a dirt road journey of several months and multiple countries. All suited up, they ride to a local hang out, and are often termed “Starbucks Adventure riders.”

There is nothing wrong with any of this. We all go to some effort every day to look like we want to look.  The cosmetics industry thrives on this.

But the combined effects of the 1%ers and the bikers is that people who do not know anything about motorcycles react with fear whenever they see any motorcycle, no matter what type.  They do not differentiate by type of bike or the attire of the rider. We’ve all seen that look on the face of a car driver, a mixture of loathing and concern.

I used to feel awful about this, but in time the advantages have become apparent.  When someone is afraid of you, they want to move further away.  They may change lanes, fall back on purpose, or wave you by on a winding country road. All of these are good things, and enhance your safety.

“Loud pipes save lives” is one of the biggest lies ever concocted. Loud pipes offend and irritate, but do not save lives.

1%ers and the biker image, however, do save lives, or at least decrease risk.

Next time a car moves out of your way, you can be grateful for the branding campaign of the 1%ers.  Irony lives.

 

Copyright 2015                            David Preston

 

Posted in Motorcycles | 4 Comments

Where the teacher salary mess came from

Where the Teacher Salary Mess Started

….or at least some of it. An article in the Seattle Times pointed out that the Lake Washington, Bellevue, and Issaquah districts are now finding it nearly impossible for teachers to afford housing in the district where they teach. The origins of this problem go back almost 40 years.

Some caveats:  teachers are not the only professionals to have this problem. In addition, nobody forces anyone to sign a teaching contract, and anyone going into education does not have any logical expectation that the wages will equal careers with similar responsibilities. People teach because they want to. In many a case, it is almost because they have to because of their inner being.

The Times did not deal with the question of whether or not it is in fact a good idea for teachers to live near their school. When I was in college I clearly remember a professor advising us to never purchase beer or alcohol in the local town where we worked. I thought that was extreme, but he had examples to back up his assertion.  When I was teaching, many colleagues did not want their students to know where they lived, fearing vandalism or visitors or I don’t know what. I thought that was also ridiculous. For my entire career I lived within two miles of where I taught. Most of my students knew where I lived, and I saw them frequently in stores and at local events. I never had a problem, and there were real advantages. I wanted to be a part of the community, and of course the short commute was an asset, including frequent trips to school for evening events or on the weekends.

Overall, most would agree that there are clear advantages to having the teaching staff be in the community and a part of everything that is going on.

What has happened? To grab the handiest example, when we purchased our home in 1977 the top teaching salary was just over 20k a year. That salary has grown by a factor of four in the intervening years, but our house has gone up in value by a factor of… twelve.  If I started teaching today there would be little hope of living in a plus 500k home, ever.

The history is usually ignored, but in this case it is crucial. Back in 1977 teachers were granted the legal right to bargain for a “master” contract that covered all of the teaching staff. Within a time shorter than the legislature envisioned, teachers got to be very good at this, and in the next few years the salaries ramped up. This was pretty much confined to the districts on the west side of the state, which tended to be larger and had more aggressive teacher associations.

The legislature reacted to teachers winning this game by …changing the rules.  A state wide salary schedule was introduced, and districts on the east side of the state were over-funded for a few years to bring their salaries to parity with those in the west.  Virtually all of the strikes that had taken place, other than one area of Spokane and in Winthrop, were on the west side, so in effect teachers to the east gained all of the benefits of those who went on strike without any of the effort.  And unless you have lived it, you have no idea of the effort and pain and stress involved.

Back then the cost of living in the Seattle urban area was much higher than on the east side of the state. We used to visit my wife’s grandmother in the little town of Sprague. I went for a walk on my first visit and loitered around the local middle school on a summer day when school was not in session. I thought the school was being remodeled, because there were only 13 to 15 desks in each room. No – that was the norm. I wondered what it would be like to have a class of 15, since most of mine were twice that size. On my stroll I also noticed the prices asked for homes that were for sale, and realized we could sell our house, move to Sprague, cut my class size in half, retain the same salary, and purchase four or five houses to replace ours!

For all of these reasons strike activity has been mostly non-existent in eastern Washington schools for over thirty years. Now the cost of living in Spokane is catching up, and you can see that in the one-day protest Spokane teachers will be conducting soon.

But surely the legislature was aware of the cost disparity at the time they did this?  Of course they were.  In the unlikely event they were not they certainly received a plethora of messages on the topic.

The statewide salary schedule had nothing to do with logic, reducing cost, or fairness. It was a simple and effective response to the assertive teachers on the west side. They were summarily punished for their temerity in reading and understanding the law and the bargaining process.

And they have been punished ever since, the legislature smug in the belief that a state-wide massive strike would never happen. And it hasn’t.

 

Yet.

 

Copyright 2015                       David Preston

 

 

Posted in Education, Rants and Raves | 2 Comments

Videos of my protest speech

If you were interested in what I said the other day, the speech is now up on my You Tube channel. Because we are not very tech savvy, you will have to do a bit of meandering.

Susan taped the first part (A) with my Go Pro and then got frustrated because you cannot see what you are taping unless you have the accessory we do not have.  Worried, she taped the latter 70% of it (Part 2) on her phone.

I then loaded them that way, and now You Tube lists Part 2 first followed by Part A.

Got that? smile emoticon

 

They can be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7HvpR9rS0p_AwS1UFPCslg

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Protesting With the Teachers

 An Amazing Day – Protesting With the Teachers

For several years various groups have been putting pressure on the state legislature to fully fund basic education, as dictated by the state constitution.  Several ballot measures have passed to increase spending on education, and the legislature has pretty much ducked or ignored them all.

A few years ago the legislature was sued by several groups working in unison, including several large districts and the WEA. That alone is mind-boggling.  The case wound up in the state Supreme Court, and the forces of education won. The legislature continued to ignore this, and is now working in special session on a state budget, under threat of a contempt of court citation from the Supreme Court for their historic failure to follow our constitution.

Last week Susan asked if I would like to join her in a one day protest against the legislature, with sign waving and other activities, followed by a rally. This is part of a “rolling protest” organized by WEA, with different districts going out on different days. These are not strikes but protests, and the districts are no opposed to them, with the day made up at the end of the year. Seattle’s by the way, is May 19th.  Join them!  Northshore and Lake Washington were both protesting today.

I said sure.  Been there, done that. In fact, I’ve been involved in every strike and protest in the district since 1969, which is pretty much all of them.

Susan suggested we might want to take two cars, as I would likely choose to skip the rally. I agreed, making the snarky comment that the only person I enjoyed listening to at such rallies was – me. Prophetic words,  as it turned out.

Then I remembered that I have a strike sign from the 1978 strike  (the 3rd one in three years when I was President of LWEA), and it would be fun to carry it instead of whatever this year’s version was. Because I am becoming polite in my dotage, I e-mailed current President Kevin Teely to see if this would be OK.  He responded that would be terrific (we later changed our minds on this), and added that he had been a 1st year teacher that year and my actions and those of others had made him a teacher activist ever since.

More snarky – I replied with “So it’s all my fault?”

Sobering reply. “Yes.”

Then he asked if I would like to speak at the rally.    “Sure,” I said, not really having any idea of the size and scope he had in mind.

Still on a polite kick, I worked up a synopsis of what I would say if nobody else gave me any pointers, and added that I could cut it or lengthen it or toss it and start over if desired.  He replied that he loved it and that I would be placed last on the list.

I asked, in my innocence, how many people he expected to attend.

“2000.” This was a bit staggering, and I could not believe they could amass that many people, as there are only 1700 teachers in the district.  The rally was intended to include parents and students and non-teacher employees, but really. 

The other speakers would include the current President of WEA, a parent, a building secretary, a teacher, and a student, and I would be the tumultuous conclusion.    No pressure, then.

At his invitation, I attended a Monday afternoon meeting of building reps where the details were discussed. It was really a weird experience, since I had conducted many such meetings almost 40 years ago. I kept flip-flopping between now and then, back and forth.

Susan prepared me for the day by purchasing one of the special red t-shirts almost everyone would be wearing, reviewing my synopsis of my intended speech, and urged me to get a haircut on Tuesday, which I did. This was also a step back in time, because she performed similar valuable services, and many more, when I was President.

The day started with massive numbers of people, all in red, occupying freeway overpasses and high traffic density corners all over the place. From our assigned station on an I-405 overpass near Lake Washington High, I could see two other overpasses, both filled end to end with red shirts and protest signs.  It was amazing.

I started out by waving my sign and waving, but soon switched tactics. So many of the people driving under us were honking their horns and waving that it was better to simply wave back and give a thumbs up to individuals.

Turns out truck drivers are almost entirely pro-teacher. Of course, many of them are union members. Or they simply like to honk their horns whenever there is any reason to. I even wondered if owners of trucking companies encourage their drivers to honk and wave at ANY group of demonstrators to create a positive impression of their company. I doubt it, but it’s not a bad idea. Whatever the source, the support was astonishing.  Of course, there were a few people offering solo finger salutes, but far fewer than I would have guessed.

After that it was time for the “secret mission.”  This plan was unveiled to the teachers in detail only today, because the element of surprise was critical.  In about an hour, 25,000 pieces of literature detailing the positions of the 45th District Republican Senator who is the chief budget writer were placed on doorsteps.  25,000!

After a break for lunch, we gathered at Heritage Park in Kirkland (shuttle buses from Juanita High and Lake Washington High avoided clogging Kirkland to a standstill for a two block walk to Marina Park for the rally.

The speeches were well done and blissfully short and to the point. The young man just before me is a senior at Eastside High and was very impressive.  As I watched I realized, good heavens, there ARE 2,000 people here!

My speech went very well and was received very well.  An abridged version of this follows.  I’ll try to put up video later.

The wonderment continued after.  As I left the stage area I was approached by Beth (nee) Crampton, who had been a student of mine when I was elected President. Her father was Loris Crampton, who was a counselor at Redmond High where Susan graduated.  Loris was one of the older and wiser folks who got me to run in the first place, and he often dropped by during my time in office to offer counsel and sage wisdom. He was such a help to me, and an inspiration. I was thinking about him as I prepared my speech, in fact.

Beth hugged me, told me my speech was wonderful and said “You were channeling my father.” And she was absolutely correct.

Then a woman came up and told me she had been in one of my Honors English classes at Kamiakin Junior High, and had now been a teacher herself for 20 years.

Funding basic education is important, which is why it was put into the state constitution in the first place. The legislature has been derelict in their duty for decades, and have ramped up their abuse of power exponentially in the past few years.  Now the time has come for change, and the people I witnessed today are going to make it happen.

 

 Speech – LWEA Rally against the Legislature         05/06/1

Thank you, etc.

LWEA strike history

       1976 – teachers allowed to bargain master contract. I am elected LWEA President. (Current contract is a descendant of that one, and none of you   have read it, which is a good sign as most of it is now business as usual.

First successful strike vote in district history – contract settled that night.   Master contract secured. Picket signs stored    

      1977 – 2nd strike – a couple of day

     1978 – as I am leaving office – 3rd strike – a few days

     1990   – strike for a few days

      2015  – a protest, and there have been a few others.

How this year is different

      No longer us (LWEA) vs. ‘them” – everyone else

      Coalition of support – district, other districts, parents, and students – and the state Supreme Court!

    Mass standardized tests and attendant ills and waste of time

          1. Some of the media and even some of your colleagues will tell you that teachers should not “waste time” on strikes.  This district has been on strike for about 10 days in 50 years = .2 of a day per year. If you work 10hours a day, as many of you do, that is 2 hours – per year. How much time has been spent just this year on preparing for, administering, and dealing with the aftermath of mass standardized tests? (Hint: it is more than 2 hours.
          2. These tests are to be scored by people whose qualifications are a college degree (in anything) and eagerness to score the tests for the salary provided. They do not need to have any knowledge of education, or of children, or even of the subject matter. This is analogous to Boeing designing a new plane and having the flight testing performed by people who “always wanted to fly.” 

What happens now?  Several scenarios, and all of them are positive. 

The state legislature is operating under the threat of a contempt of court citation from the State Supreme Court.   (Amazing!)  Legislature does nothing, and Supreme Court responds or  does not.  Either way, the media attention makes the situation obvious to all.  Advantage –  education.Legislature passes a budget they feel meets their constitutional mandate. Supreme Court agrees or disagrees, and further actions take place. Advantage- educationStandardized tests come under increasing fire, and student protests continue. Advantage education.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            1976 was a crucial year for education in this state, and 2015 will be as well.   You have taken a bold step today.   You may need to take more, but from now on you will not be toiling alone. With the support of your district, parents, and students, your efforts on behalf of your students in your school in your community will triumph.  Not in the long run, but soon.  When basic education is fully funded, and schools are operated at the local level by dedicated teachers, I want you to take a moment to remember this day. Remember this morning, remember what you did after the sign waving, remember where you are right now and remember the people who are standing with you.  For the rest of your life you can remember with pride, and say to yourself “I helped make this happen.”Thank you.   It is an honor to speak to you today.                                          David Preston   LWEA President  1976- 1978 

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Why You Want to Have Your Taxes….raised.

Raise Your Taxes to Increase Your Financial Status!

A confluence of three disparate events has me thinking this morning.  They are 1.) A bond issue to provide new communications systems for the 911 folks  2.) A re-finance of our home, and 3.) Bernie Sanders about to launch a bid for President of the United States.

The bond issue came up for Facebook discussion last week, and I was surprised that anyone opposed it.  A good friend opined that he did not trust that the money would be used as stated, and that the tax increase was too much. 

The tax increase would be $2 a month on the average house, and my friend stops at Starbucks for an expensive latte virtually 7 days a week. The bond issue amounts to less than 2% of his latte budget. There were several other comments, but that was the one that really impressed me.  Keep in mind that I do not mean to criticize him, that the increase is on top of the real estate taxes you already pay, and what is termed an “average house” does not necessarily include yours.

At the same time we were providing a financial institution with about 200 pages regarding a refinancing of our home.  We’ve done this before, several times, and it has always worked out to our advantage.  The last one was four years ago when the interest rate on a 15 year fixed mortgage dipped below 4%, and I figured it would never sag lower.  I was wrong. Now it is below 3.5%, and our real estate contact called me the same day the thought went through my mind.

With the refi, our monthly payment will increase $7, (or maybe $9 or $10 if the bond issue passes), we will pay off every debt we have, have a large chunk of cash left over, and still have about $200,000 in equity in our home.  And no tax issues.  This is not quite money for nothing and chicks for free, but as close as you’re likely to get in the real world.

How does such a thing happen?  First of all, it’s a good idea to buy a house, almost any house, as soon as you can afford the payment. The second good idea is to not move.  We’ve lived here for 38 years, having taken out a $47,500 mortgage we could barely afford the first time.  The house will now appraise for (I’m guessing) $500,000 or so.  Over time it has been refinanced to remodel itself (twice), to pay for some of a UW education, and for many other reasons.  This is all due to a real estate market that has climbed steadily over the decades.

Why is that? Why to people want to move the Seattle suburbs, or anywhere else for that matter?  People want nice weather, which if you live here you probably think we have. People who buy homes often have a family, and thus want good schools. Everybody wants, and assumes we have, that magic word we seldom talk about: infrastructure.

Any yet my neighbors (think large scale) in the past few decades have voted consistently to reduce or slash government spending which has affected, quite drastically, the schools and infrastructure quality that underpins the rising value of their residence. In essence, they are cutting the nose off their own financial face.  If my largest asset is increasing in value by 10% a year, does it make sense to vote against services which cost a small fraction of that gain and are responsible for a lot of it?

No.

Are taxes too high?  You can argue that in either direction and select statistics to support your point of view, but the majority of reports seem to indicate that we pay less in taxes than at almost any time in the past 40 years, and that our personal tax bills lag behind most other 1st world countries. All of this while we’re spending billions of tax dollars. fighting this or that war somewhere.

Are taxes applied unfairly?  Surely so, and that is a mess I will not take on here. 

Back to government services.

In the years we’ve lived here I have called 911 probably 4 or 5 times, for health issues, suspected crime, or other issues.

In all cases, including the fire down the street, highly trained professionals responded immediately. One on occasion, I called 911 on the phone in the kitchen (remember those) and the office pulled up as I walked out the front door.

In the case of the fire, help arrived before I could call 911.  I stood across the street and watched a fireman, all by himself, pull an inboard ski boat full of fuel, on its trailer and fully aflame, out of the garage so it could be doused by others.

My daughter was house-sitting at her grandparent’s house with a friend in her teen age years, and they thought some creepy person was trying to get in. She called us, and we told her to call 911 and that we were on the way.  Grandmother’s house is a mile from ours, and the officers were there before we were. They searched the house completely, and the back yard, and stayed until they were sure the girls not only were OK but felt OK.

Quality and prompt emergency services (many other examples left out for brevity) require professionals, and they cost money.

It amazes me that the Koch brothers and their ilk have managed to convince so many people that their problems do not stem from the very rich taking advantage of them, but from the government that provides services. It’s really an amazing feat of sleight of hand marketing.

The solution they promulgate is to cut or slash all taxes, removing community services. Then people who voted for that and probably volunteered time to help the issue pass complain that government is not doing enough for them. Politicians try to create new revenue streams to take care of matters, and then the same people work against them again. It’s a vicious circle, and the super rich who can provide their own services sit back and laugh.

But only in private.

Of course government is not perfect. Nor are the police or the schools. I am not Pollyanna. But compared to what the super rich have done to Wall Street and politics, I know where I want to place my bets.

To fight back, next time a tax increase is floated, support it!   You will gain back in the value of your real estate several times what you spend.

And now Bernie Sanders appears to be about to drop the bomb that he will run for President.  Can he win?  Assuredly not, but then nobody thought Barack Obama stood a chance, either.  Has Obama’s presidency been a success?  If you ponder what would have happened if the hand-picked stooges selected by the Koch brothers had won, I think definitely so. Sometimes slowing the bleeding is the best triage option available.

Like many others, I like to dream, both small dreams and big ones.  Wouldn’t it be lovely if the majority of Americans figured out that the Koch brothers and others like them have been using them as tools for decades? If that happens, might they rise up and throw extreme do-nothing Tea Party advocates and others who have stripped our society of so much of our advantage in schools and infrastructure out of office? 

Like I said, I like to dream.

 

Copyright 2015                          David Preston

 

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Another book becomes a paperback offering!

Thanks to Gary Stebbins, another of my “Harrison Thomas” mysteries is now available in paperback.  Identity Ride was the second of the series, and is in some ways my favorite, as this book was when I started using real people and events  (modified) in significant ways.  Most of the locales used are real, and some of the events modified just a bit to fit the needs of the plot.  I also really like some of the characters who do not appear it the others.

All 7 of my books are still available as e-readers for any platform from Amazon, of course.    I think Gary’s labors are done for a time, as we do not intend to create paperback versions of the other three. He can relax and wait for the next Harrison Thomas novel, which I am now creating.

Books by David Preston

Motorcycle 201 – 2nd edition.                                             Published 2015 

Meant for people new to motorcycling or those returning to motorcycles after years away.  Information on what to do and not do, what to purchase and how, riding techniques, and a lot more. Includes a glossary of terms. First written in 2000 after my son asked what he’d need to know before he bought a motorcycle. Published as Motorcycle 101 in 2003. Edited and revised to become Motorcycle 201 in 2010. Redone again in 2015.  Available as an e-reader or in paperback.

Mourning Ride                                                                      Published 2011 and 2015

My second novel. The first in the Harrison Thomas mystery series.  Harrison was the English teacher in The Third Marcia, and this novel picks up 25 years later after his wife has been killed.  He takes his Kawasaki Concours on a motorcycle ride in his grief, and adventures ensue.  Available as an e-reader, and now as a paperback as well.  

Motorcycle Heart, Theory, and Practice                             Published 2011

Essays on topics related to motorcycles.  Available only as an e-reader.

 

The Third Marcia                                                               Published 2012

My first novel!  Originally written in the late 1980’s when I was an English teacher at Kamiakin Junior High.  The characters were fictionalized versions of me, my colleagues, and students.  Sat in a drawer for 25 years until published as an e-reader.  In many ways my favorite book. The English teacher is Harrison Thomas, which became important later.

 

No Corner Left Unturned                                                   Published 2012

A 2nd book of essays. More motorcycle topics, plus high performance car pieces and other topics of interest.  Available only as an e-reader.

 

Identity Ride                                                                      Published 2013 and 2015

The 2nd novel of the Harrison Thomas mystery series, prompted by readers of Mourning Ride who liked the main characters and wanted more.  I formed a “plot team” of friends who had read the first one, and they provided terrific plot details and ideas which I used. Harrison starts on a vacation ride on his Kawasaki Concours down the Oregon Coast, and events quickly veer toward the serious. Available as an e-reader and now, as of today, also available in paperback.

 

Triathlon Ride                                                                    Published 2014

The 3rd novel in the Harrison Thomas mystery series. Harrison meets a woman who’s into triathlons and he begins to attend them in support of her efforts. And then people start to die.  In this one he rides a new Yamaha FJR.  Available both as an e-reader and in paperback.

 

Farrier Ride

The next Harrison Thomas mystery is underway!       Published in late 2015?

 

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How I Almost Ran for the State Legislature

How I Almost Ran for the State Legislature

A recent post on Presidential campaigning prompted several fun replies that jogged an amusing memory.

I have been a president. Twice.

I was elected president of my 7th grade class. Deephaven Junior High had two feeder elementary schools, so roughly half of the electorate did not know one of the two candidates.  The election was near the start of school. After my victory, I was told that many of the students from the other school did not like their candidate, feeling that he was stuck up, and so voted for me, the guy they did not know.

Jerry was not stuck up at all and became a good friend. He was also the MVP of the state basketball tournament my school won, on a team I was cut from, so it all worked out for him rather well. The best memory of my term in office was being sent to a student leadership conference where I met famed Olympian Jesse Owens.

In 1976 I became president again, this time of LWEA, my district teacher association. It was a tumultuous time in education, as teachers had finally been awarded the right to bargain for a master contract. I ran unopposed for a second term in 1977 and received 93% of the vote. My ego had grown to such an extent that I wondered who those 7% were. 

In those two years teacher salaries went up by over 20%, but inflation ate most of that, We also had the first strike vote in district history, and then the first strike, and then the 2nd strike just as I was leaving office, where I served as the LWEA spokesperson, although I think that term had yet to be invented.  And then there was dealing with the school that burned to the ground and a run of three Superintendents in the span of the two years. 

It was an interesting time.

Thorough all of this I gained a dollop of notoriety, with a guest spot on a radio call-in show about teachers on strike, some TV sound bites, and frequent appearances in the newspaper.

Side story I cannot let go by. When I was on the radio show, the host was trying to be as provocative as he could, asking me “tough” questions while smiling at me over a cup of coffee.  I was well prepared for this and was doing well. Then he had a call from a listener. This woman went off on a several minute long rant about the value of a strong public education system, starting with the Greeks, and summing up with the statement that all teachers were underpaid and should be given massive raises. The she asked a question.

After a pause, I started with “First of all, I’d like to thank Mom for calling in this morning…”   The host doubled over in trying the stifle his laughter, and pretty much had coffee coming out of his nose. A great moment!

Over time I was given credit for a lot of accomplishments that were not really mine.  A lot of tremendous things were done by an inspired crew of hard working volunteers who wished to remain anonymous for various reasons.  A lot of people thought that I did a great deal more than I did.

Among other perks, this gained me a lunch with a prominent local attorney, who was interested in having me join his firm as a law clerk. He explained that in this state you could “clerk to the bar.” If you worked as a law clerk for 6 years and then passed the bar exam you would be an attorney – no law degree required. The reason for the lunch was that he had read the contract we had just negotiated. He thought I had written in. When I explained that I had merely signed the contract which contractually bound all of the teachers in the district and not actually read it, the lunch ended rather quickly.  I will never forget the look on his face when I told him I had signed the contract but not read it. My explanation that I did not need to read it because several others had did not impress him in the slightest.

Now that I have set the stage, we move forward to the fall of 1978. I was returning to the classroom, but at the same time I was contacted by the Democrats of the 45th district with a request that I run for the state legislature as a representative. This was astonishing, but they were quite clear in their reasoning. Democrats NEVER won in the 45th district at the time, but in the previous two elections people who were “interesting” had run, labeling themselves as Democrats. The party leaders were tired of folks running under their label that listened to aliens or wore tin foil hats so they would not receive such communications. They wanted a candidate who would be “reasonable” and run a small campaign before losing, without embarrassing the party.  Made sense to me.

It seemed to me to be a tremendous honor, even as stated. How many people ever have such an opportunity?  I consulted several people I’d come to know and respect in the political community and decided I should do this.

Susan was horrified and utterly opposed. She pointed out that if I were elected I’d need a long term sub for the duration of the legislative session and would be away from our two young children for extended periods of time.

“But,” I pointed out, “there’s no way I could win. This is a chance to have fun during the campaign, learn a great deal, and lose with dignity.”

“Oh no,” she replied.  “I know you. You’ll figure out a way to win, and then where will we be?”

What a great line!  I had no response, since I was secretly already planning ways that I could win. Fortunately, and belatedly, I had a vague memory of a re-districting. We had moved to our current house and few months before, and sure enough, we no longer lived in the 45th district.

Thus my political career ended before it began.

All for the best, I’m quite sure.

 

 

Copyright 2015            David Preston

 

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