Archive for February, 2011

Michigan’s budget problems

February 19, 2011 Leave a comment

If Rick Snyder wanted a tough job, he’s getting what he asked for.

“One Tough Nerd” faces the challenge of trying to create jobs, create a business-friendly environment and make budget cuts that will help Michigan back into financial solvency.

The problem is, it seems like every proposed cut is met with fierce opposition.

Something has to be cut, it’s just an issue of what it’ll be.

One person today angrily suggested to me that Snyder and other politicians go without salaries, and they calmed down when I informed them Snyder has forgone all but a single dollar of his salary and has returned it back to Michigan.

Makes me glad I’m not in office. I’d already be having Maalox moments.

Richard Zowie is happy being a private citizen. Post comments here or e-mail them to


2-15-2011 poems: Flags, Enjoying Tea

February 16, 2011 Leave a comment

2-15-2011 — Flags

In the wind they wave

20, maybe 50 feet, high

Planes fly by the,

Birds, too.

Clouds dance in the distance

Sometimes I see the sunshine

Reflecting through

When it does,

The flag looks faded,

The edges frayed.

The deep blue a strange attempt at royal blue.

The red a peculiar pink.

The white? Off-white.

Some flags look as if

They’ve flown non-stop

Since the Reagan Administration.

Frayed, tattered.

Were they the flag from

Francis Scott Key’s poem?


Flags are the new Rodney Dangerfield.


2-15-2011 — Enjoying Tea



Sweet tea

On a hot summer day

In South Texas.


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Reviewing Zebra pens Ola, F-301 BP, Z-Grip

February 12, 2011 1 comment

Yes, I still prefer Papermates, but I have grown very frustrated with Papermate because a) Sanford (Papermate’s parent company) has stopped making pens I really like, such as the Silkwriter BP and the Dynagrip and b) has replaced them with the new Silkwriter (the 1.6-mm ballpoint is way too wide, resulting in annoying ink links and sloppy handwriting) and the Profile (same).

So now, I have purchased a few Zebra pens and have taken them for a test writer.

The Zebra Ola: I purchased this on Thursday from Dollar General in Frankenmuth. $1.75 for four pens: black, blue, red and purple.

I considered it money well spent. Ideally, I prefer barrels that a predominant rubbery grip, and this one was different. It was a plastic barrel with a thin rubber coating in a zebra pattern. Still, it worked very well. It is comfortable to grip, not too large or too small and the ink is overall dependable. Not the boldest I’ve ever seen, but reliable all the same. Still, when I used it, I found myself readjusting my grip often due to the strain. My handwriting wasn’t as good as it is in some pens, such as one of my current favorites, the Papermate Pro-Fit. The clasp stays attached easily on my shirt pocket, which is a huge plus.

I rate the Ola three out of four possible stars.

The Zebra F-301 BP: I purchased this at Walmart on Friday. I forget the exact price but it was around $3 for a black, blue and red one.

It has the metallic look many will find sleek and professional. What appears to be a rubberized barrel is actually a hard-to-grip plastic that makes for very uncomfortable handwriting. The ink is average: not bad, but not great, either. The clasp is excellent.

I rate the F-301 BP 1.5 out of 4 possible stars. (I rate its Papermate counterpart, the G-Force, at 3.5 out of 4 stars due to an annoying-loose clasp).

The Zebra Z-Grip: Purchased at Meijer on Friday for $2.99 for black, blue, red, green and purple pens (I will probably give away the green one since I’m not a huge fan of green ink).

Wow! What’s not to like? The ink is bold, it has a see-through barrel so you can see how much ink you’ve used, a rubberized grip that makes for excellent handwriting and a nice firm clasp. Very little discomfort when writing.

I rate the Z-Grip at 3.75 out of 4 possible stars.

Richard Zowie doesn’t have a pen obsession as much as he just appreciates a great writing tool that doesn’t cost too much money. Post comments here or e-mail them to