This is the sign at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Lansing, Michigan exactly seven years ago today. This tiny church changes its signs often with some pithy statement that matches the season or an emphasis in the ministry. Have you seen any church signs in your area that got your attention?
My wife and I were out a year ago today and decided to have lunch at the Athena Restaurant in Lansing, the site of the old John's Restaurant where diners ordered by using phones at each booth. When our kids were young, it was a novelty for them to use the phone. The meal that we had a year ago was great.
There were months where I felt like I should be an investor in this Shell gas station. We drive a small car, but filling a tank during this period could get us way too close to $40.
My Uncle Wes who I was named after worked most of his life as a gas station operator. When he retired he became a successful maker of wooden toys. He made cars, trucks, planes, trains and doll houses. At Christmas time this past year, two of my grandchildren played with one of his doll houses that he made before he passed away.
For my wife and me, this past year has been the "year of family." We saw a lot of our adult kids who live in different parts of the world and United States and we had a chance to exercise our wings as grandparents. They range in age from four to six months.
My four-year-old grandson Xavier absorbs everything said and done. He and I last month took a bottle of dietCoke to our driveway and we put three Mentos in it. His eyes opened wide when it shot up in the air more than 20 feet. Will he remember that?
His two-year-old sister Gretchen is just starting to talk. I had many conversations with her. She can count to 10. My six-month old grandson Miles is taking it all in too. You can see his little mind processing everything that happens around him.
This brings me to the question of how do I want them to remember me?
Do I want them to remember me for all the neat places I've been to? Cuba while it was still closed to Americans? Deep into the heart of Bamako, Mali which is under threat from extremists? Haiti after the earthquake? West Berlin when it was still under the thumb of the communists?
I could point to some jobs I've had and to some interesting and famous people I've met and worked with.
I've thought about it and it's none of those. As I look over my shoulder at my life, I see my overwhelming need to be close to God. And I see my sin and how it prevents that from happening. It has taken me awhile to start really absorbing what Jesus Christ did for me and everybody else when he came to earth, died, rose from the dead and went back into heaven.
He saved me. I can now have that relationship. Jesus has made me perfect in God's eyes. While on earth I'm still under construction. I'm a Saved Sinner. That's the only real worth that I have. That's my identity and that's how I want my grandkids to remember me. Pure and simple that's me.
How are low gas prices affecting your travel during the Christmas season?
Yesterday while riding home from Best Buy, this was the price at the Shell Station on the southwest corner of Waverly and Old Lansing Road. Most of the pumps seemed to have cars filling up.
I'm stunned by the lack of reaction from Lansing-area churches about the real possibility that a statute to Satan will be erected on the front lawn of the State Capitol next week as part of the Christmas celebration.
As reported today in the Lansing State Journal, satanists in Michigan will erect a statute of Satan next week for several days as their way of celebrating Christmas. There will be no Nativity scene. This is because, according to the story, no Christian church has stepped forward to put one up and take it down everyday. Did anybody know about it?
There has to be boundaries to what is allowed for the celebration of one of the most sacred days of the year for Christians. Honoring the author of sin and all the vileness of this world is not one of them. We have war, murders, hunger, poverty, racism, domestic violence and all other forms of trouble because of him.
I'm offended that this is even a possibility at the hub for state government in this state.
Churches need to step up. We can't allow Jesus to be taken out of Christmas, especially in Lansing and in this state. We place ourselves in the bullseye for more of Satan's handiwork if we don't act.
Just my opinion. Anybody agree?
Here's a video clip of what it looked like in our front yard exactly three years ago. It does snow here in mid-Michigan in November and this is proof. This is for out-of-state family members who have been asking.
It's November 3 and the leaves are off our trees here in mid-Michigan. A year ago today they were still on our front yard maple tree. Today, that tree is bare. What does that mean about the kind of winter we are going to have?
Cold and lots of snow? Is it time for me to go out and buy a generator for our home just in case the electricity goes out like it did last year?
Being retired, super-wife and I have a lot of flexibility for when we go grocery shoppping. This week, it was Monday morning at Horrock's Farm Market on the edge of Lansing, Michigan's Capital City. The store is filled with amazing produce and other specialized food items.
There's an amazing craft beer selection, as well as wine. And there's the cheese along with great meat. There's also a whole wall of shelves filled with endless permutations of chips.
Now there's an onsite bar where you can buy a glass of craft beer to sip while filling your shopping cart. I didn't get one today because I had hit the coffee sample bar first thing. I was drinking a big cup of coconut-flavored coffee.
The lawn rake and leaf blower standing at attention in my garage are ready for what should be starting shortl--leaves falling from the tree. In a few days, we will be re-supplying our inventory of leaf bags.
It's part of the fall here in Michigan where a short trip to the supermarket can turn into a visual experience. And it takes yard work to a whole new level.
How long does it last? At least until the end of October. How many leaf bags do you use? We generally fill twenty or more.
I was on Facebook this afternoon for a few minutes when I saw the first post that the Lansing Police Department was scurrying to respond to a power outage in several key areas of the State Capital city. It read like a repeat of the power outage during Christmas week where many people suffered through more than a week of darkness and cold.
My first reaction was "oh crap, it's happening again." Without word from the Lansing Board of Water and Light, our local utility, there's no sense of how wide the problem is or how long it will last.
It's a bad feeling to wonder if our water pipes could take another session of freezing temperatures and whether we could find a place to stay if we lost power.
My first instinct was to go for my phone and other devices to make sure that they had a charge. This proved really important a few weeks ago. Then we went to a coffee shop to find news and to check and send emails.
Today, while this was happening, word about this flowed through Facebook with friends reporting about what they were experiencing or what they had heard. That helped.
Apparently, people are having their power restored. I'm not ready for this to happen again.
There needs to be a full explanation from Mayor Virg Bernero on down to explain to the people what happened and how it can be prevented. Many might agree that it's time for changes to be made at the top levels of management for those who were decision-makers.
It's not our practice to keep beer or wine cold in our bathroom. But during the recent Lansing, Michigan ice storm some how this "Sam Adams" got stuck in my home office here. It stayed cold during the four days the power was out. Where did you keep your beer cold during the outage.
We did lose some food from our freezer and our fridge. We were lucky. I know many people lost a lot more.
Check the shower curtain with the world map. Great way to learn your countries and where they are at.
My wife raised the question while we were sitting on our couch talking about the recent ice storm in the Lansing and Mid-Michigan area. We are thankful that we had mobility where we could go to coffeeshops, restaurants and motels.
We could tend to our house during the day with occasional forays for errands or just to get warm. But, then we started thinking about what still could come this year--a major snow blizzard where all movement stops and where power could be lost too. These do happen every few years in our part of the state and if you're not prepared, then you're in trouble.
I raise this question after reading the mLive.com story about the final release of the Lansing Board of Water & Lights emergency plan. At first, they said, it didn't exist, then they said it did and refused to release it and now after a lot of pressure, they released it.
After reading this mLive story, I'm concerned about future weather disasters in the city. The BW&L plan looks like it was put together a few years ago while executives were talking at lunch. I'm not impressed that they're on the top of their game or even in it.
Are you ready for the next big snowstorm? Another power outage? For no mobility either by foot or by car?
I'm not sure the city of Lansing is ready? Should the questions be asked before it happens?
I watched for more than three hours last night as Lansing-area citizens recounted how they felt the Board of Water & Light left them down in last week's brutal ice storm. Most of the complaints centered around really botched communications.
At last night's Lansing City Council meeting, BW&L communications director Steve Serkaian was asked by MSU Journalism Prof. Bonnie Bucqueroux about the communications plan that his boss had promised to distribute the next day. It never materialized. In this video, Prof. Bucqueroux asked about the plan in a very respectful way.
Check Serkaian's response. How would you grade it? On a pass-fail basis, what would you give him? Is it time for a new communication leader at the board along with a total revamping of policy and practice?
Were you affected by the ice storm that hit the Lansing-area and other Mid-Michigan communities? The Lansing City Council is holding a special meeting starting at 6:30 p.m. to listen to those affected and to provide a platform for the Lansing Board of Water and Light and City Hall to explain their troubled response.
I will be live-blogging what happens. I will share my questions as it happens and I invite yours. It starts in about an hour-and-a-half. Here's a link to the streamed broadcast of the meeting: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/lansing-city-council-meeting
My wife and I took this picture of the traffic light on West Grand River Avenue just outside of Lansing and just off of I-96 when we got done with lunch at Denny's Restaurant. It's still not functional after the ice storm which hit eight days ago.
It should be noted that this is a major thoroughfare for semi-truck and for travelers on the interstate. This is just a FYI for those in charge of repairing storm damage. It has to be a hazard for the travelling public. Check the picture which was taken about 2 p.m. this afternoon with my iPhone.
Video can be a real gift to anyone trying to get a sense of a public official's response to a question or circumstance. Take this short video of how Board of Water & Light General Manager Peter Lark responded to a question about whether the utility had an emergency plan for responding to ice storms.
As a customer, do you feel more confident that they had it under control and that they had a plan in place to respond to a severe ice storm? He promised that such a plan would be shared. Has anybody seen it?
Check Mayor Virg Bernero's sideline response about ending the news conference because of blunt and direct questions. Was his response appropriate? How would he and Lark rate as a listener in your mind? Excellent? Adequate? Inadequate?
Thanks to MSU Journalism Prof Bonnie Bucqueroux for the video and for Todd Heywood in asking the question. Here's the video:
Do you feel that the Lansing Board of Water & Light has been sufficiently open during its response to the mid-Michigan ice storm which we are recovering from right now?
The perception of many, including myself, is that our local utility suffers from a transparency problem. Their guarded comments and poor communication has led people to believe that they are getting sub-par treatment in getting their power turned back on.
How do you change that? You build real trust by being completely transparent. That means being open and honest when things are not positive and where expectations have not been met and where mis-judgements have been made.
On my social media blog which I use for testing and for recording what I've learned, I link to a company that practices those values. They are open about everything. It's bufferapp.com Check it out. Can local units of government be encouraged or strongly nudged to follow similar values? Is it worth a try?