Archive for April, 2012

16
Apr
12

Money Monday: The Revolution is Here!

Rick Santelli Converts Pickup to Run on Natural Gas: From Start to Finish.

One of my passions is investing. I rarely watch ESPN; instead CNBC is constantly on my TV. While I do enjoy some of the morning radio guys in the Twin Cities, I’ve been around sports enough if I really want to know something I can just call a contact and find out. Sports is a business. While I respect the athletic abilities of those I watch — and some are truly amazing — there’s no fascination left for me.

If you’re tired of paying close to four bucks a gallon — or if you’re in California $5 per gallon — good news. Competition to gasoline is close at hand: liquid natural gas. I learned this last summer, and the momentum has increased since. The reason is simple: With the price of oil hovering around $100 a barrel and the fact that it comes from countries who are hostile to the West (and lots of other parts of the world), it only makes sense to look at alternatives. Europe is further ahead than we are in North America at adapting to natural gas. In Europe, natural gas cars made by the likes of General Motors are on the road.  Our side of the Atlantic we may be catching up.

The game changer will be what’s know as surface fleet fleet vehicles — your Fed Ex trucks, UPS trucks, the garbage trucks, trucking companies, etc. They want a fuel that is cheaper than diesel. Natural gas fits the bill because it’s cheaper and just as dependable as the fuels derived from oil. Plus, if you’re into the green thing, they it has less carbon emissions. Waste Management (WM) now has 1,400 trucks that run on natural gas. Of course, there are those who raise the question, “Well, what happens if natural gas up in price?” Natural gas has a natural price hedge that oil doesn’t have: your local garbage dump. That stuff can be burned and turned into methane which, in turn, can be converted into natural gas.

Rick Santelli just converted his truck into a LNG (liquid natural gas)-powered vehicle for CNBC. The conversion cost him, but once the surface vehicles start using natural gas en masse the passenger cars will become more prevelent as well. Where would one gas up? The gas station. Pilot Flying J truck stops, in cooperation with a company called Clean Energy Fuels Energy (CLNE), is building LNG pumps at their stations across the country. By the end of 2013, you’ll be able to go coast-to-coast and fill up at a Flying J. And that’s just the beginning.

We are still in the infancy in this, but unless Washington screws it up, bet on it happening. Can’t wait to pay less than two bucks a gallon to fill up.

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15
Apr
12

Union College Hits the Jackpot

Union College hit the jackpot on its way to Tampa to play in the Frozen Four ice hockey championship. Matt Futterman, a Union College grad who now scribes for one of the top newspapers in the free world, the Wall Street Journal, wrote an op ed apology describing how wrong he was when he vehemently campaigned against the college’s reinstatement of the hockey program when he was an undergrad there 21 years ago. As a college senior, Futterman feared hockey was not a worthwhile pursuit for a college with the academic standards of Union. He describes his story HERE on the Journal’s web site.

Good thing he has had a change of heart. Head Coach Rick Bennett has done a great job picking up where Nate Leaman, now at Providence College, left off. Winning at Union can’t be easy. I’d liken it to recruiting for sports at Stanford. There are only so many males out there who are really good athletes who can also score well enough on the ACAT/SAT in order to get in. And who are diligent enough students in the classroom who can stay in. In short, you’re looking for a special breed of cat. Apparently, they found enough of them to win at Union. My eyes were opened to Union when they played here in Minnesota during the Mariucci Classic tournament during the Christmas-New Years break in 2010. They beat the Golden Gophers in the tourney’s first game, 3-2 in OT. Understand something: The Minnesota fan base does not think their team should EVER lose to someplace called Union College.  If we must lose sometime, we lose to brand names — North Dakota, Wisconsin, Boston College. Not Union. It was a big time wake up call for the Gophers, but more so for the rest of college hockey. Union may have it going, people.

Having the Wall Street Journal run Mr. Futterman’s piece in the paper plus doing a video with him is icing on the public relations cake. First, dumb people do not read the Wall Street Journal. Opinion leaders do. Smart people, people in leadership, people who can donate financially and maybe even afford to send their kids to Union read the Journal. Secondly, everyone except the most callas of people like a Prodigal Son story. Instead of pleading insanity for being the son of a psychotherapist and a lawyer, Mr. Futterman takes full responsibility for being wrong, even going so far as to apologize in person and on camera to the past president, Roger Hull, who spearheaded the drive to get a hockey program back at Union. Generally speaking, people don’t like to admit they are wrong, let alone do it publicly. Watching the video on the Journal’s site, it’s hard not to like Mr. Futterman.

Alas, he does have a vociferous critic in Zach Pearce, a contributor to — you guessed it — the Union College Hockey Blog. In a rant on his blog, Mr. Pearce doesn’t buy Futterman’s mea culpa and thinks he belittled Union’s history because he referred to it as “slightly-less-than-illustrious.”

“The troubling part of Mr. Futterman’s article is that it reads dangerously as a misinformed personal attack on the school,” Pearces asserts. Really? Union has its cadre of distinguished alumni to be sure, but lest’s be realistic: It’s not Harvard. In athletics it won’t remind you of Stanford either. The Wikipedia list maintained by Union itself is a little short on famous graduates since, say, 1960. It doesn’t mean Union isn’t a terrific school with wonderful people. However, as a contributing alum, Matt Futterman has done more to elevate the visibility of the school than President Chester A. Arthur has done lately. To use Mr. Futterman’s description of himself as a Union student, Mr. Pearce comes across as much of an “obnoxious punk” as Mr. Futterman was 21 years ago. Funny how history repeats itself.

If I were Rick Bennett, I’d welcome back Matt Futterman with open arms. In fact, I’d give him a jersey and have him write a piece on the program for the team’s web site. After all, he just did your program a favor by acknowldging his youthful stupidity to about three million Wall Street Journal readers. A lot of those people never knew about Union College. Now they do. Way to go, Dutchmen!

13
Apr
12

When Ivy League Diplomacy Failed…

I’d be remiss if I failed to mention what I think was one of the more odd moments from my hockey season.

During the Winnipeg Jets-Minnesota Wild game back in February, the Jets’ Tanner Glass got into it with the Wild’s Darroll Powe. A fight during an NHL game isn’t unusual. What made it unusual was that the combatants are supposed to be bright human beings, at least brighter than your average dolt on the street. Besides the fact they are both from the providence of Saskatchewan in Canada — surprise! — they also have another thing in common: They both attended Ivy League colleges. Glass went to Dartmouth and Powe went to Princeton.  And they spent all four years there, which means it’s likely they are Ivy League graduates! You won’t know that by reading their bio info on their respective team’s web sites because it’s not mentioned. A missed opportunity to get a story line out there, but that’s a subject for another blog post.

Nevertheless, I don’t think either one of them majored in any sort of government relations/diplomacy field of study. If they did, they’d probably get peace-loving Canada into a war with another country. Seriously, who doesn’t like Canada? Than, again, hockey doesn’t lend itself to on-ice diplomacy.

11
Apr
12

Muzik’s Best Hockey Photos from this Year’s State of Hockey

There’s no playoff hockey here in Minnesota (again) this year, so we are confined to watching the Stanley Cup playoffs on TV (once again). All I’m left with now are souvenir photos. And more time to complete my taxes and let my sore lower back heal up.

Along with my co-editor (my dad), I put together my best hockey photos from thirty-three NHL games and a bunch of Minnesota Gopher games. While I live in St. Paul, Minn., judging by the photos you’d think I lived in Edmonton, Alberta. That’s because we saw the Oilers four times four times  (one preseason game, three regular season) by the first of the year. Please let me know what you think. You leave a comment on my blog or friend me on Facebook and leave a comment there. (To go to Facebook, please chick HERE.)

02
Apr
12

Meet the Next Lawrence Taylor

I hated the way ESPN overhyped USC running back Reggie Bush when he was in college. They actually did a segment comparing him to Chicago Bears great — and NFL Hall of Famer — Gale Sayers. Comparing a college kid to an NFL legend was ridiculous. College football and the pros are not the same game. Bush was taken second overall by the New Orleans Saints in 2006, and I think Bush is more famous for dating Kim Kardashian than for what he has done on the field.

But I’m about to jump on a bandwagon of my own making. You must see Daeshon Hall, a junior in high school from Lancaster, Texas, play football. This kid has some special ability. He’ll committed to Texas already, so you’ll see him in Longhorns burnt orange in 2013.

One of my free lance jobs is editing video for national Preps. I spent February watching a lot of high school football from the state of Texas. Young Mr. Hall just stood out. In Lancaster they play him as a defensive end, although I think he’ll project as an outside linebacker in college — and in the NFL. At 6-foot-6, 225 lbs. he has the build of a basketball player, and, in fact, he does play hoops. However, he has the body type of a small forward, unlike Julius Peppers who played basketball at North Carolina and played defensive end in college and the pros. Peppers has the build of a power forward; he’s bigger in the lower body. But Hall has some unbelievable physical ability — and he’s much stronger than you would think.

If Young Mr. Hall is a diligent student and makes wise choices off the field, the sky’s the limit for this fellow. My edited video of Hall runs just under three minutes, so check it out.