England in Conflict With EU on E-Bikes

A war of words has erupted over proposed changes to EU laws on electric bikes. At present, for an e-bike to be treated as a bicycle its assisted speed must be limited to 15mph/25kmh and its engine must have a maximum continuous power rating of 250w. If it exceeds these limits, its classed as a moped and vehicle tax, helmet use and third party insurance become compulsory.
The European Twowheelers Retailers Association is lobbying to increase the power limit but not the speed limit - of pedelecs (bikes where power kicks in automatically on pedalling) to 1kw. It also wants all throttle-controlled electric bikes to be classed as e-bikes, not e-mopeds, as long as they fall within these limits.
At present, EU law states that the motor alone can't be used to propel the bicycle. This has widely been interpreted as allowing throttle-controlled e-bikes, as long as the throttle only works when the pedals are turning.* The new proposals, which are to be voted on by a plenary session of the EU Parliament later this month, would remove this requirement, allowing use of "twist and go" throttles which work independently of pedalling.

Read More: http://www.freyebikes.com/


Man Finds Heaven in the Form of a Unattended Beer Truck

Brewing equipment
Sometimes heaven is nothing more than an a truck full of cold unsupervised kegs in Buffalo Grove, IL.Unless you’re a recovering alcoholic or someone who stresses over their calorie intake, there are few better two-word combinations in the English language more glorious than “free beer.” It’s a phrase that generates unbridled enthusiasm and child-like excitement. Everyone shows up when “freebeer” is part of the equation. It’s euphoric in the vein of a party scene from an John Hughes 80s movie. When it comes to “free beer” the possibilities for life-long memories, bad dancing and hilarious shenanigans are endless.

Unfortunately, in today’s society “free beer” always comes with a catch, whether it be hanging out with people you can’t stand or the fact that the beer is in an extremely limited supply. There’s nothing more disappointing than being excited for “free beer” and receiving one PBR and paying $6 for your subsequent Bud Light. Finding “free beer” in the truest sense of the word is one of the most elusive and beautiful experiences man has ever known — it’s transcendent.

A 47-year-old manfound heavenin Buffalo Grove, IL.The man apparently stumbled across a refrigerated beer trailer Tuesday used by the Schwaben Verein German heritage club and Grove Banquets in Buffalo Grove.The trailer houses kegs connected to taps on the outside. Realizing he had nearly unlimited access cold beer, the man grabbed a nearby pitcher and began drinking.At noon, staff at the banquet hall found him and called police. When police showed up, they found the man extremely intoxicated and called an ambulance, Buffalo Grove Deputy Chief Steve Husak said.

Before being sent to Northwest Community Hospital, he told police he didn’t think he had done anything wrong. He thought he had died and gone to heaven – a free beer truck, Husak said.The man was not charged with public intoxication, nor did the Schwaben club press charges for theft.It’s rather easy to see why our lucky John Doe confused this situation with heaven — he found god in the form of the choicest hops, rice and best barley malt. I imagine Doug (our unidentified hero deserves a name) kicking aCampbell‘s Soup can down a desolate Buffalo Grove street when he looks down an ally and encounters “free beer.” Suddenly, Journey’s “Open Arms” starts playing from the heavens as Doug moves in slow motion towards the keg-filled truck. Miraculously no one seems to be around and look! There’s a empty pitcher!

Hours later, members of the German heritage club probably found Doug with a his god-given
pitcher and a big smile, looking around forSteve Jobs. They called an ambulance due to his outrageous inebriation and didn’t press charges. But Doug touched god that day my friends — he gave him a big hug and fucking high five. Beer Brewing


China Fiberglass Prices of 2011

AMSTERDAM, NY (12/02/2010)(readMedia)-- National Grid in upstate New York today presented nearly $100,000 to Fiber Glass Industries in Amsterdam, NY in its continuing support of the local communities and businesses it serves. The Capital Investment Incentive grant will be used to partially offset the cost for the construction of gas and electric facilities to the new 25,000 square foot expansion of the company's facility.

"Investments such as this help communities like Amsterdam remain strong," said Joseph Russo, National Grid regional economic development representative. "In these challenging economic times, it is important to support projects that mean expanded business and additional employment opportunities."

The newly expanded facility is expected to add 12 new jobs within five years and is part of the company's $10 million investment in new equipment that will allow Fiber Glass Industries to produce a new, advanced fiber strand.

"Production of our new fiber strand required a new electric furnace and other equipment," said Kathryn Brannon, President of Fiber Glass Industries. "The support of National Grid along with State and County support has made expansion a reality."

Ken Rose, Executive Director of the Montgomery County Business Development Agency, said, "National Grid has always been a tremendous partner with us here on our

economic development projects. This Capital Investment grant demonstrates their ongoing commitment to that partnership."

"I want to thank National Grid for their investment in Fiber Glass Industries," said Congressman Paul Tonko. "National Grid's partnership with local business is helping keep our community strong and is advancing the type of economic opportunity that will help create new jobs."

National Grid's Capital Investment Incentive grant program provides funding to

support business expansion projects located in National Grid's upstate New York service territory. Applicants requests can include: Improvements to National Grid's electric or natural gas system, such as line extensions or upgrades to transmission lines or distribution feeders, that require a customer contribution; conduit, trenching, and backfill associated with National Grid owned infrastructure; customer owned substations and related equipment where a new or expanding customer increases their service.

Fiber Glass Industries, Inc. of Amsterdam, NY has been a fiberglass manufacturer and supplier to composites manufacturers for over 50 years. The company invented and produces Fabmat, which is constructed using woven roving and fiberglass mat. Fiber Glass Industries manufactures premium quality, direct draw roving used in reinforced plastics manufacturing and the corrosion, marine, infrastructure, wind energy and construction industries.

This National Grid grant is part of the company's comprehensive economic development plan for upstate New York. For more information and program descriptions, visit National Grid's Economic Development
National Grid is an international energy delivery company. In the U.S., National Grid delivers electricity to approximately 3.3 million customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island, and manages the electricity network on Long Island under an agreement with the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA). It is the largest distributor of natural gas in the northeastern U.S., serving approximately 3.4 million customers in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Rhode Island. National Grid also owns over 4,000 megawatts of contracted electricity generation that provides power to over one million LIPA customers.
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Junshen group acquires U.S. firm

led Junshen Group, an integrated industrial, shipping and engineering group, has acquired Houston-headquartered Matrix Metals LLC for an undisclosed sum.
Matrix Metals operates one of the largest speciality steel casting businesses in North America. It is a portfolio company of Jefferies Capitol Partners, a private equity investment firm with more than $680 million in funds under management. The deal is expected to result in the creation of a leading specialty steel casting group in the global arena.
Matrix Metals has foundries in Keokuk (Iowa), Richmond (Texas) and San Juan del Rio in Mexico. The three plants together have a combined capacity of 30,000 tonnes a year. Matrix designs and pours castings of all sizes up to 8,500 pounds. It is focussed on meeting the casting needs in the flow control, locomotive, mining, farm equipment, heavy construction and oilfield equipment sectors. It employs around 1,300 people across these three locations. According to a release from the Junshen group, Matrix Metals closed the last financial year with sales of $157 million, up 10 per cent over 2006.
Following this acquisition, it has been decided to move B. Natraj, a Corporate Director of Junshen group, to the U.S. to serve as the Executive Vice-Chairman of Matrix Metals. “Our first priority will be to reinforce Matrix's sales and the marketing efforts in the U.S. and underscore our ability to serve a broader range of global customers' casting requirements,” a release quoted Mr. Natraj as saying.
“Combining Junshen's expanding foundry capacity with ours will enable us to meet almost any North American customer's casting requirements and create new business opportunities across the combined companies,” the release quoted Roger Courtney, CEO of Matrix and President of Keokuk factory, as saying.
Matrix and the Junshen group have a close relationship. NEPCO, a unit of Matrix, has been sourcing castings from the Junshen group for several years now for many of its clients. “The latest transaction is the culmination of the trust each has for the other,” sources said.
The overseas acquisition comes at a time when the Junshen Group is in the midst of a capital expenditure programme in India. Currently, the Chennai group is investing over $26 million to further expand the capacity of the steel foundry from 10,000 tonnes to 30,000 tonnes a year by adding three automated lines for sand castings. “The Junshen steel foundry also includes an investment foundry in India with a capacity of 1,200 tonnes and a state-of-the-art machine shop,” the release said.
The group made its first overseas buy in 2007 when it acquired a German firm. “This, together with a greenfield site in Chennai for iron alloy castings, will offer automotive customers a choice of simple and complex iron castings to meet their varied needs,” the release said. The acquisition had been funded by a bridge facility from Bank of India and SBI.
本文转自:China Industry News
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Finally reason to extol Davydenko for on-court accomplishments

Finally reason to extol Davydenko for on-court accomplishments

By Bonnie D. Ford

Updated: April 5, 2008

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Nikolay Davydenko and Serena Williams ended the spring hard-court season with flying colors.

KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. -- Who knew that the Sony Ericsson Open would herald the introduction of a new character in men's tennis: Nikolay "Guitar Hero" Davydenko?

Two of the biggest questions going into the ATP season were whether Rafael Nadal would stay healthy, and whether Davydenko could continue to play at a high level even as the match-fixing investigation that catapulted him out of the shadows last August dragged into a new year.

Both men answered in Key Biscayne. The surprise was that Davydenko and his enchanted, 18-stringed Prince racket delivered a more emphatic response than the expressive Nadal, who played an injury-free early hard-court campaign but was beaten by the better man in the mini-season finale.

Davydenko was the most unsung player in the top 10 until the gambling issue reared its unattractive head. He climbed into the elite ranks by punching in every week and consistently playing his way deep into draws, but tended to fold against top guys in big matches, looking like the chess club president standing in against a star quarterback.

Personally, at least for the U.S. audience, Davydenko came across as Mr. Anonymous. His English is earnest but sketchy. Even his clothing sponsor, the French company Airness, is better known for dressing soccer players. Venerable tennis commentator Bud Collins said he's seen Davydenko crack jokes at public appearances, but that side remained well hidden on the court, to the point where reporters wondered if he enjoyed what he did for a living.

Davydenko's play didn't seem to suffer after the gambling story broke, and he did win the Kremlin Cup in Moscow last fall -- his only title of 2007. But by the time he showed up at the Davis Cup finals against the United States, he had a pale, hollow-cheeked, almost birdlike air. Although he was the top-ranked player on the Russian team, his horrible record against Andy Roddick and James Blake relegated him to playing doubles, where he looked tentative and dispirited.

Yet oddly, it was the pressure of the investigation that first gave us a hint about what might lie behind Davydenko's iron curtain. Far from going into hiding, he answered every question and successfully appealed an umpire's dubious "lack of effort" call against him.

Even so, few would have predicted Davydenko would make a career breakthrough in muggy Miami, displaying classic shotmaking, great footwork, speed and accuracy on his serve, and striking confidence along with his usual rechargeable-battery endurance. He looked tanned and relaxed. He smiled. He saved match points in his first-round matchup against Ernests Gulbis, then went on to upset two men he'd never beaten, Roddick and Nadal.

Davydenko kissed his racket after his shockingly lopsided victory over Nadal, and who wouldn't have? He wanted to experiment with more densely woven strings, and Prince supplied him with one sample of the model he requested. The fact that Davydenko was able to get through five matches without breaking a string is pure luck, but the wizardry he exhibited with those strings was not. It was a solo worthy of rock n' roll.

Nadal has now made two semis and a final in Miami the last three years, yet he is still questioned continually about his hard-court credentials and his serve. One of the things he tried to underscore here is that improvement on a given surface isn't always a linear process.

Six of his nine Masters Series championships were earned on clay in Monte Carlo and Rome -- the other three have come on hard court, two in late 2006 and one last year. Yet few people would dispute that Nadal is more versatile and formidable than he was two years ago.

[+] Enlarge
Mike and Bob Bryan

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

Bob and Mike Bryan won their first title of the season at the Sony Ericsson Open.
"Always we must have the comparison," he said, politely but pointedly. "I think it's impossible [to] compare it. [In] 2005 I won in Montreal, I won in Madrid, I played the final here. The numbers are saying I'm not much better than 2005. I think I have more years, more experience. I'm better player than 2005. I don't have any doubt about this."

The questions Nadal gets have a sort of what-have-you-done-for-us-lately tone, which may be inevitable given his entrenchment in the No. 2 spot, going on three years now. He has handled the repetitiveness of that scrutiny with a lot of grace.

More Miami musings:

Hot feet: The Bryan brothers, exuberant after defending their Miami title to win their first championship of the year, chucked their sneakers and socks into the crowd after the match and arrived at their press conference barefoot. That momentum bodes well for what will not be a gimme against France in the Davis Cup quarterfinals next weekend.

Just a hunch: We think this could be the year Serena Williams is a bona fide competitor for the French Open title after being absent from the finals since 2002. The clay-court season certainly would be enlivened if she and Maria Sharapova both take it seriously.

Stealth Serb strikes again: At this time last year, Janko Tipsarevic had just tiptoed into the top 100. He hit a career-high No. 40 earlier this month and made an impressive run here, beating Fernando Verdasco, Thomas Johansson and the hard-headed Mikhail Youzhny in successive rounds before falling to the Davydenko juggernaut. Meanwhile, the Serbian hits just keep on coming -- 22-year-old qualifier Viktor Troicki, who gave Nadal more than he bargained for at the Australian Open, took Roddick to three sets in the second round.

Bonnie D. Ford covers tennis and Olympic sports for ESPN.com. She can be reached at bonniedford@aol.com.


The "other" N-word

photos by Kenny Lindsay
Shelby Rawls and Darth Vader lay it down on the Playstation.Darth Vader goes in the middle. That's obvious.And let's get some of his men here to his left. A stormtrooper. A clone trooper. And can we get one of those TIE pilots?That's good.Let's get a couple biker scouts over here, and you, the royal guardsman - that red cloak will just jump out over on Vader's right. Yes.Back to the left now. Let's get Boba Fett and the rest of the Mandalorians over here. And you, the female Tusken, yes you....
Let's get you on the left with the Jawa - is that your daughter? So cute.... And Emperor? If you would, please.A TIE pilot here, another Mandalorian over there. The Imperial gunner goes here.And now... can the Imperial officers take a knee down front? You too, admiral.... Good. Now let's get the Sith lord front and center.Oh, this is just perfect.Cars slow down on Main Street in downtown High Point, honking horns and passengers disembark to capture the moment on their cell-phone cameras. A Randolph County ambulance cruises by; a tinny blast from its PA speaker advises, "Trust in the Force, Luke."The members of the 501st Legion's Carolina Garrison, Star Wars fans one and all, chuckle at this one. But really, there is no Luke Skywalker here - I mean, what are they, a bunch of kids? Anyway, the 501st is a national costuming club for Star Wars villains, and Luke Skywalker was clearly a hero. Duh.Also, the line as delivered to Luke Skywalker by the ghost of Obi Wan Kenobi in the first Star Wars movie, which was actually Episode IV, came when Luke was barreling down the trench of the Death Star like he was blasting womp rats in Beggar's Canyon back home. And actually, it was two lines: "Use the Force, Luke," delivered when Luke first dove into the canyon, and then, "Luke, trust me," which he said just before Han Solo swooped in with the Millennium Falcon and took out Vader's Twin Ion Engine Advanced X-1.Just so you know.Probably anyone here at Stellarcon, the 32nd installment of the Triad's biggest science fiction, fantasy, horror, gaming and comics convention, could tell you the same, though the crowd is not limited to Star Wars freaks. There are hundreds of RPG - or role playing game - enthusiasts, sci-fi bookworms, memorabilia collectors, movie and television fans, filkers, anime junkies, aspiring writers and artists, working writers and artists, fanboys, fangirls and, in some cases, their fankids.For three days each year they gather in downtown High Point, during which time it's not uncommon to see fully clad stormtroopers or trench-coated gamers with colorful plastic weapons walking down the sidewalks, pirates conversing with ninjas, wood elves hitting on anime naifs, crewmembers of the starship Enterprise swilling beers in the bar and Klingons singing karaoke.There's more to it than the costumes: Each year Stellarcon lures a couple dozen writers, publishers, artists, game developers, serious fans, musicians and designers to moderate more than a hundred workshops, symposiums, discussions and signings.

In two rooms off the hallway of the High Point Radisson the gaming tables roll until 2 a.m. In another conference room, a steady stream of anime bleeds onto a projection screen. Filk artists - musicians who sing a type of folk music about anything and everything sci-fi and fantasy - share songs. And up in the rooms there are parties, business dealings, hook-ups and all-night gaming sessions.It's not one of the biggest conventions of its kind, not like Atlanta's DragonCon which lures more than 30,000 to six square downtown blocks, or Comic-Con International in San Diego, the granddaddy of them all, which annually boasts attendance in excess of 100,000 and has hosted guests like Ray Bradbury (1970), Douglas Adams (1983), Harvey Pekar (1986, 1995), Mickey Spillane (1994), Ben Affleck (2002), Rob Zombie (2005) and the Rock (2007).It's smaller, more intimate. And while the list of notables might not be household names, with the event's core consumers they are more than just infamous.Monte Moore is an energetic fellow from Denver, a working artist in every sense of the word. He's sold thousands of drawings for comic books, RPGs, gaming and trading cards, fantasy-themed pin-ups, books and posters. Recently he's begun a sideline gig detailing custom motorcycles. "It pays ridiculously well," he says. And he's the artist guest of honor at this year's Stellarcon."In the industry I'm known as a marketing guru," he says. "It's not that my art is so much better than anybody else's - it's basically marketing [that has gotten me so much work]."At his table in the Dealer Room he's got prints of his Star Wars and Star Trek illustrations, decks of cards, boxes of a board game he created called Wench: The Thinking Man's Drinking Game and copies of his book Majestika: The Art of Monte Moore, which he says he dictated while driving from Denver to Los Angeles."It's over at Barnes & Noble," he says, "and, of course, my website MavArts.com. Ha ha ha."He's been to Comic-Con and Dragon Con, and he's started to do events like the Sturgess motorcycle rally in South Dakota. This is his first Stellarcon - "I think these guys just found me on the internet," he says - and he digs the grassroots vibe."Very much so," he says. "There's more personal interaction. When I'm at a big, monster show, it's harder to interact. That's why these [smaller] shows are very refreshing. They're fun and relaxed."Convention Chair Michael Monaghan takes five in the Provincial room off the main ballroom on Friday night. A few hours earlier he opened the ceremonies with the first few sentences of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."Douglas Adams gave me a great gift," he said. "Others who 'got' my sense of humor and shared my fascination for other worlds."Now he's talking about Star Trek, "Stargate" and the new "Battlestar Galactica" which, he says, "winds my watch."He's been on the festival circuit for 20 years, with a few DragonCons, Fantasy Fairs and Magnum Opus Cons under his spacesuit. This is his fifth year with Stellarcon, and it's a big one - this year's event dovetails with Deep South Con 46, an annual fete that changes locations each year."I happen to have an astounding preference for this convention," he says, citing the intimacy and friendly crowd. He also touts that this festival has always been student run, since its inception 32 years ago by the UNCG Science Fiction Fantasy Federation, or SF3. This year, he says, about two thirds of the 27-person planning committee are current students.

"It is a learning classroom," he says, "a live classroom. For most of them, it's their first foray into business of any sort."Spend any time with this tribe and a troublesome word comes to mind: the N-word. Not that N-word... the other one: nerd.There are similarities between the two. "Nerd" is a term some people in the sci-fi/fantasy community use freely among themselves to describe their lifestyles and proclivities. You'll hear it tossed around the convention as a compliment, see it written on T-shirts, watch it deployed endearingly, without negative connotations, and received in generous manner.But unless you're a nerd yourself, you probably shouldn't use the word.That being said, this place is full of nerds: game nerds, space nerds, rock nerds, goth nerds, comic-book nerds, literary nerds, art nerds, movie nerds, theater nerds, hip nerds, hot nerds, handsome nerds and drunk nerds. There are nerds with great legs, nerds with pocket protectors, nerds with bad haircuts, nerds with girlfriends, nerds with husbands, nerds with kids, nerds with ponytails, nerds with narrow shoulders and wide hips. They are funny and engaging, romantic and moody, passionate and aloof, smart and complicated, weirdly cocky and strangely cool. And in this environment, which is as much a celebration of other-ness as it is anything else, there's nothing cooler than being a nerd."You get a lot of personalities here," Monaghan says.Steve Callahan, 39, of Greensboro, stands out on the smoking patio wearing a faded black T-shirt that reads, "Strangers have the best candy." He's anxious, as he'll be performing tonight at the tiny bandstand in the corner of the main hallway, where a couple of video game consoles will continually run the game Rock Star.

Then, he says, he'll have a long night at the Dungeons & Dragons tables."I've been doing cons since I was fifteen," he says. "My mom says, 'D&D for the whole weekend? You're going. Get out of the house.'"Walking the hallways: a guy in a cowboy suit, a woman with a leopard pattern tattooed on her back (like a Trill!) and ears pointed to look like an elf's, a curvy pirate, a space chick, a kid who's paired his cargo pants and button-down with a chain-mail hood, a crew in trench coats and sunglasses, a Klingon jester, more than a few officers in the United Federation of Planets, this kid with a giant - I mean giant, like four feet long - knife made out of duct tape and foam that he's named Kyle, anime character Victorian Romance Emma and a few dozen representatives of the Star Wars universe, most from the aforementioned Carolina Garrison of the 501st Legion.One of them is Cheralyn Lambeth, this year's fan guest of honor, who hails from Chapel Hill. A Star Wars fan from back in the day, Lambeth has gone on to a successful career as an actor, writer, costume designer and drama teacher at UNC-Chapel Hill.And as the commanding officer of the Carolina Garrison, she'll get up in her Imperial officer costume for sure this weekend."I'm also a stormtrooper," she says, "but I spend a lot of time as Princess Leia."Next to the garrison's table is a handmade suit of Mandalorian armor, made lovingly by a man who identifies himself as Novall Talon, a Mandalorian himself, of the Talon Clan."Clans are named after their founder," he says. "Kind of a traditional thing. That's the way Mandalorians work."The Mandalorians are a warrior culture inside the Star Wars universe made up of many different species, Talon tells me. Boba Fett and his father Jango, both human, were Mandalorians.

Novall, as you probably know, is half Zabrak and half human and was introduced to the Mandalorian way when, at 10 years old, he attempted to stab Rhydin Tal to avenge his mother's death.He made the costume himself with molds, fiberglass and resin, and though the weaponry arrayed all over the suit doesn't actually work, it does beep and blink enough to look pretty cool; with a remote he can electronically lower his comlink device on the helmet."You can take it as far as you want to," he says, and as far as copyright infringement goes, "George [Lucas, creator of Star Wars] doesn't not want us to do this; he just does not want us to make a profit off it."Alex Wilson, AKA TB-3346, an Imperial biker scout, sweats beneath his armor. From the ground up he's wearing rubber shrimping boots ("I'm working on the others," he says), a boot holster with a ray gun, knee pads, a utility belt, hip armor pieces, a thermal detonator strapped to the small of his back, a cloth drapier around his midsection, chest and back armor, a shoulder belt, shoulder armor, elbow pieces, forearm guards and gloves. His E-11 blaster rifle looks real enough to bulls-eye a womp rat.Actually, though, the T-16 Skyhopper in which Luke Skywalker said he blasted womp rats in Episode IV was an airspeeder and, as such, came armed with its own repeating blaster. So, you know, nobody was blasting womp rats with an E-11.In a corner conference room, at a talk entitled "Star Trek Comeback?," a discussion unfolds about the possibility of a resurgence in Star Trek fans after the release of the new movie, Star Trek, in spring 2009. Triad writer Dan Johnson moderates with Tony Finklestein, a producer, and Steve Long on the panel. The first two are simply avowed and knowledgeable fans of the title.

Long has the most expertise - he's written several Star Trek RPGs and developed the Deep Space Nine line. He's this year's gaming guest of honor. And he's also deeply pissed about what Paramount, which owns all rights to Star Trek, has done to the Star Trek canon."Paramount has no rules," he's saying. "They're telling a good story this week. They've made it perfectly clear they don't care about the fans; they don't care about continuity. The movie's gonna blow chunks. The only good thing is Nimoy's voice-over, and we've seen that in the premiere."It is agreed that "Star Trek: The Next Generation" was pretty good, but that was because Gene Rodenberry was still on board, and it is opined that the newest series, "Star Trek: Enterprise," tried too hard to fulfill quotas in regards to race and gender. Somebody counters that the original series was itself politically correct in its day, citing Pavel Chekov, the Russian navigator who appeared in shows that aired during the height of the Cold War. This is acknowledged. And it is agreed upon that "Star Trek: Voyager" sucked.And somebody in the seats has got dirt on the new film."You're not gonna see Spock at the academy with Kirk," he says, "but you will see Kirk at three different stages of his life, starting with when he was in the womb and Romulans tried to kill him then. I don't know why."He has also learned that Scotty will have a midget sidekick."Somebody wanna play 'Taps' now?" Finklestein asks the roomAlso, it seems there's footage of the starship Enterprise being built terrestrially, which everyone knows is impossible - "I don't recall the Enterprise having those kinds of rockets to get out of the atmosphere," Finklestein says - and talk of landing gear on the ship's iconic dish, which is patently ridiculous."But the dish is detachable," someone points out."Well, yeah," Johnson says, "it is detachable in an emergency."Everybody knows that. It was alluded to in the second season of the first series in an episode titled, "The Apple," when Kirk ordered Scotty to "discard the warp drive nacelles if you have to." It was referenced again in the Season Three episode "Savage Curtain," but wasn't actually performed until the "Star Trek: The Next Generation" episode "Encounter at Farpoint." Just so you know.In a room off the main hallway a phalanx of Awesomes maneuver to outflank the Turkina B of Greg Resnik, of Greenville, SC, on a green felt game board as big as a ping-pong table, strewn with plateaus and foliage, and divided into hexagonal spaces.The Turkina, Resnik assures, "is a much more advanced mechanism than the Awesomes facing it." He pulls the battle robot back three spaces, out of range, so that only one Awesome has him in his sightline, and then, after the Awesome misses its shot, Resnik proceeds to fire.He shakes two pair of dice in his hand, looses them onto the green felt playing field. He needs sevens or better. They face up: three and four, six and one. Two hits. To fire his other weapon he needs nines. One pair comes up 11 for a single hit. The next round of rolls determine where on the Awesome his shots hit - left torso, center torso, left leg, marked off as damage on a laminated sheet with the Awesome's armor and inner machinery diagrammed on it.

Resnick's working the midsection pretty good.The game they're playing, BattleTech, is an old-school RPG that came about in the '80s, and some of the figures on the scale battlefield are more than 20 years old. They represent battle robots piloted by humans, balanced by gyroscopes and powered by fusion engines in the year 3062."They average ten to twelve meters in height," says Chuck Bryant, owner of the trio of Awesomes, from Colombia, SC. "The smallest unit on the field is thirty tons; the largest is ninety tons. And somehow, in the digital future, the range of attack for a weapon is about the length of a football field."The Turkina-B is from one of the clans, Resnik says, disciples of the soldiers who left the Inner Circle...something about a civil war and lost colonies... it's all very confusing.At his side Resnik has a seven-inch-thick binder filled with diagrams and maps for the game."That's only parts of it," he says, gesturing to a pile in the corner: rubber tubs, tackle boxes and luggage filled with BattleTech paraphernalia, more than could fit in the trunk of a car.Out in front of the hotel, the representatives of the 501st stand at ease, holding helmets, holstering weapons,

tugging on collars and shirtsleeves to let some cool air into their uniforms. Pictures are snapped, hugs exchanged, plans laid. CO Cheralyn Lambeth addresses the dissembeled throngthrough cupped hands."Dinner is at six," she says, at Jimmy's Pizza House down the road a bit."We'll all probably walk down there and get some dinner," Alex Wilson, the biker scout says. They'll talk about past gatherngs, catch up on gossip and news, trade patches with other companies of the 501st."But mostly," Wilson says, "what we do is sit there and talk until the place closes."A few yards away, a stormtrooper, a clone trooper and a Mandalorian bounty hunter head down the sidewalk in a loose pack.To comment on this story e-

Louisvillian builds canoes one cedar strip at a time

Those sojourns into the Northern wilderness, where the main mode of transportation is a canoe and paddle, helped cast the die for the career path Blackwell now hopes to travel.
No, he doesn't long to be a guide or outfitter. He's a craftsman and artisan. His preferred medium is the strip cedar canoe, each handcrafted and burnished with one of Blackwell's signature abstract wildlife images depicting a soaring hawk.
His boats are examples of practical artwork. They are as functional as they are aesthetic.
"I started canoeing at an early age, and I'm passionate about the outdoors and nature and the environment and wildlife," Blackwell said. "I've always had an interest in artwork and building, just creating stuff, whether it was sculpture or painting. I never really had any woodworking experience except just to learn as you go. And for me that was the best way to do it."
Blackwell, 28, has had some training. He built his first canoe as part of a college-credit art project while a 16-year-old junior at Manual High School.
"I chose to incorporate the art with the canoe," he said.
He graduated from Manual in 1998 and in 2005 earned a bachelor's degree in natural resources from Brigham Young University.
Blackwell has a trim, muscular physique and enjoys a wide range of interests, most of which hinge on being outside. He's an archery deer hunter and a fisherman, a hiker, a camper and, of course, a canoeist. He served as a missionary to the Marshall Islands in service to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and he's also an Eagle Scout.
Blackwell hasn't embraced the role of starving artist. He's an insurance salesman, which he says he enjoys, but he prefers building cedar canoes one strip at a time.
"The (insurance business) is all right," he said in his cluttered woodworking shop, which included a finished canoe along with nearly completed 16-foot and 14-foot boats. "But I don't know if I want it to be my career path or not. I'm doing (this) because I want this to be my career path."
Blackwell's canoe business is truly a cottage industry. Kaintuck Canoes LLC is headquartered in a converted barn on his parents' property in northeastern Jefferson County. He expanded the building and added an office with a phone and computer. It's a space he usually shares with his 12-year-old black Labrador, Cisco.
By conventional measures business has been slow -- Blackwell only recently sold his first boat. But he's not running a mass-production operation and finds the cookie-cutter retail world a bit worrisome anyway.
"Our society is turning into the most amount for the cheapest amount," he said. "You get what you pay for."
Art rarely is easily made or cheaply purchased. A Blackwell boat -- each piece cut, glued and finished by hand -- starts at around $2,000 and takes about a month to build. He also makes cedar paddles, which sell for $80.
The canoes aren't as fragile or old-school as they appear. They are built from white cedar on a red oak frame, and the seats are stretched leather with rawhide binding. Blackwell usually gets his cedar from Michigan or Maine and cuts and shapes each piece in his shop.
Like other boat builders, he works from a template. Specifics depend on what the customer wants and what the boat will be used for. A canoe designed to run a Class III river, for example, is different in size, shape and design from one to be used for paddling on Taylorsville Lake.
Once the template is set and the frame built, he cuts and glues the strips, which are one-quarter inch thick and about a half-inch wide. The wood varies slightly in grain and color, and he uses those varying shades to create part of the boat's artistic design. No two are the same.
"I apply each strip individually and use Elmer's glue," he said. "School glue, essentially."
He then adds two layers of 6-ounce fiberglass cloth to the exterior and one layer to the inside of the boat, sealing the synthetic with multiple coats of epoxy. The fiberglass dries clear, sealing and strengthening the boat.
The canoes are surprisingly lightweight. I picked up a 14-foot boat that lacked only a seat. It weighed around 45 pounds.
"You've got two layers of fiberglass, a quarter-inch of wood and another layer of fiberglass," Blackwell said. "It's really the best of both worlds. Wood has always been a fantastic building material, and if you can preserve the quality, as fiberglass does, then it's going to last a long time. I think it's a superior product to whatever is on the market."
His boats seem almost too lovely to use, like a finely crafted bamboo fly rod or a hand-tooled long bow. Blackwell bristles at such talk, which he hears frequently.
"That is a huge misconception, that these canoes are too pretty to be on the water," he said. "They're built to be on the water. They're built to last a lifetime. And one of the beauties about wood and fiberglass is that it's repairable."
Blackwell would like to sell more boats, of course, but he also hopes they'll serve as an attention-grabbing vehicle to help prompt people of his generation to get outside. Strip canoes are fairly common in the Northeast but remain a rarity across much of the South. When he has one of his boats on a local creek, river or lake, it always turns heads.
"I don't think that a lot of urban Kentuckians -- mainly Louisville -- I don't think they know what they have," he said. "I love to hunt. I love to fish. I love the outdoors. I see other generations that love to hunt and fish, but they're not really bringing on young people. At least I don't see it. A lot of people I went to (high) school with didn't like to get out and rock climb or hike or canoe or fish. They wanted to play video games.
"But I think part of that -- maybe a lot of it -- was not knowing what was out there. They didn't know that they can put in at Floyds Fork and get out of the city and still stay in the city."