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26 posts from July 2006

Baby boomer report: I'm almost month away from my 60th birthday

I'm sobered by the fact that I will turn 60 years-old in a little more than a month.  Yeah, I was born in 1946 which makes me part of the first class of baby boomers.  What happened that year:

  • Xerox photocopying process was invented.
  • St. Louis won over Boston, 4-3, in the World Series
  • Popular television program was Gillete Cavalcade of Sports
  • First electric clothes dryers were introduced

This is from a site that offers highlights for each of the baby boomer years.

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Painting our kitchen with Sherwin Williams

We've lived in our home for seven years and it's starting to show some signs of use from dailyKitchen1 living.

Our kitchen needed a paint job, so Gladys and I made a decision to redo it this summer.  My goal with this post is to share some positive help to those considering similar projects.

We spent a good chunk of time organizing this effort.  For many this all is a no-brainer. But, we organized and prioritized the steps we would need to take, like washing the walls and the woodwork, taking doors off cupboards and making sure that they would all be properly marked and so on and so on.

But the biggest help with potentially one of the most contentious issues was the website of Sherwin Williams.  It's color visualizer was a tremendous help in picking colors.  You pick a room and then arrange the colors in the room the way you want.  You get a good picture of how things will look.

Our local Sherwin Williams store in Lansing was a tremendous help.  The staff knows paint and painting.  They were helpful.  I like Home Depot and Lowes and Menards, but for painting I think I like Sherwin Williams better.

We have a few more pics of our effort on Flickr which can be accessed by clicking on the icon in the bottom left margin.

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Pray for Etienne Kiemde and his ministry in Burkina Faso, West Africa

Etienne I spent a little more than two weeks in March on a short-term mission trip to Mali in West Africa.  While I was there I met the leader of a radio ministry in a neighboring country, Burkina Faso.

Etienne Kiemde, the general director of this Christian radio network, stayed for a couple of days at the same mission house in Bamako where our team was headquartered.  With him using his broken English and with me using my four words of French, I learned about how his stations were being used by God to carry the Gospel to places that normally would be hard to reach.

In an e-mail from a couple of days ago, he shared some of the response.  Listeners in Burkina Faso are responding to the love of Jesus Christ, he says, when they hear it over the radio.  They contact the radio station who are then contacted by volunteers.  The responders are people who have to deal with many social and cultural obstacles when accepting Jesus as their Savior.

For Christians all over the world, pray for Etienne, his family and his team and their efforts in their part of West Africa where lives are being changed forever.

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Flossing your teeth; how often do you do it?

The Detroit Free Press wants to know how often you floss?

I'm serious.  Who says that there isn't hard news in the papers these days?  This is a poll where you can vote and it is a serious challenge.

As a member of the first class of baby-boomers, I never developed an appreciation for flossing nor did I ever learn how to properly do it.  The result:  I have a partial denture on the top and one on the bottom.

I could have saved myself a lot of time in the dentist's chair if I had flossed.  Then my dentist, Dr. David Flint, gave me a frame where the floss is wrapped between two arms and then around a plastic post.  I could do that and I have been doing it pretty regularly.  My floss preference is Glide.  It goes easily through your teeth.

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Why am I talking about this?  It's important.  You can love your dentist, but you can do it without sacrificing your teeth at his altar.

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Dr. Kevorkian who cheapened life deserves to stay in prison

This morning's Detroit News has a story about how Dr. Jack Kevorkian wants to get out of prison because of an alleged terminal illness.  As I ate my oatmeal with banana on top, I felt sickened and saddened.

Kevorkian, the person who admitted to helping more than 100 people commit suicide, cheapened life in Michigan and around the world.  To him ending your own life was nothing more than like putting a dog down.

Look at how our culture has come to regard life since Kevorkian went to prison.  Today's Lansing State Journal includes a local story about how two of our teens shot to death a 24-year-old for "weed, cellphone and cash." 

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I know that there a lot of people who experience excruciating pain and they want it to end.  And, I know I could be in that position someday.  But, I know that my life will end.  I have an end date and it will come soon enough.

Kevorkian needs to serve his sentence.  Can our culture ever regain what he took from us, a respect for life?

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Testifying before the Student Statesmanship Institute at Michigan State Capitol

I have been invited to testify this afternoon before a group of student legislators from the Student Statesmanship Institute this afternoon at the Michigan State Capitol. 

My son, Justin, participated in this when he was in high school.  I was asked to testify on a bill that would prohibit sex offenders from ever adopting a child.  I was asked to be against the bill. 

My testimony:

Mister/madam chair

I appreciate the opportunity to come before your committee this afternoon to share my thoughts on a very important issue that affects each and everyone of us in some way.

But, first, I would like to take a moment to introduce myself, to help you better understand my comments and the context they come from.My testimony has been shaped by my experience in this building and in various prisons around this state.

Please allow me to explain:

First, I am a retired legislative staffer.  I have worked on both sides of the legislature, the Senate and the House and I have worked for both parties. 

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Most recently, I worked for the House member who chaired the committee where this actual bill was considered and voted to the floor.  I am very familiar with it from both a policy perspective and a political perspective.

I should also note that I spent more than 15 years going in and out of prisons around throughout the state . . . as a volunteer for Prison Fellowship, the prison ministry started by Chuck Colson.

For children of divorce: how to divorce proof your marriage

There are lots of us who are the children of divorced parents?

With your parents being divorced, it can become a cycle that's hard to break. 

That's why I noticed today's guest on Focus on the Family where Dr. James Dobson will talking with Dr. John Trent about his new book, Breaking the Cycle of Divorce.  You can listen to the interview online by clicking on the link.  But . . . for those interested in this topic, check out the links on this page to various relevant articles:

  • When Your Parents Divorce

  • Is Divorce the Answer?

  • Hope for Couples in Crisis

  • Awful to Awesome: Restoring Broken Relationships

  • Should I Get a Divorce?  Things You Should Know Before You Call the Attorney (PDF)

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Justin: Google's coming to Ann Arbor

In about five weeks, my son, Justin, will have his diploma in information technology from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT).  It's one of the outstanding tech schools in the world.

Given Michigan's current political and economic climate, he hasn't had much incentive to move back home, other than his great parents and a bunch of friends.  Opportunity seemed to exist elsewhere.

Could that be changing?

Google's Adwords headquarters is coming to Michigan, more specifically Ann  Arbor.  They expect to hire 1,000 people.  That's really good news.  I hope it's a harbinger of things to come for our state.

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I wonder how much our state had to give away to get them to locate here.

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Philosophy: Is it important to study this as a Christian?

My son's finishing up this summer at the Rochester Institute of Technology and one of his classes is philosophy.  I am a babe in the woods on this topic.  Here's good piece from that I need to read through on why such study is important.  I scanned it and will read it more carefully soon.

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Local newspapers are heading towards life support, says

Big Bald Bobby was driving us  from the Inn at Aspen to the Hotel  Jerome downtown when we struck up a conversation about blogging.  He writes for when he's not working, downhill biking or skiing or spending time with his girlfriend.

He told how has become a local news source for the community and about how it routinely beats the local newspaper at stories.  Sounds like a perfect example of how mainstream media is losing influence while citizen journalism is gaining prominence.

So, I've been checking out this Aspen community blog on a regular basis and found this post on how newspapers are losing readers.  In fact, they are on a pretty steep downward spiral.  It will be a while before they crash and burn, but they are in a flame out mode.

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Check this out:  The post says that newspaper readership averaged 80.8 percent in 1964, went below 70 percent in 1980, below 60 percent in 1995 and stood at 51.6 percent in 2005.

I remember when I couldn't live without getting the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News, in addition to the Lansing State Journal.  Now I read them online along with other papers. 

It used to be fun sitting in a coffeeshop with a fresh brewed cup and the paper.  I guess now it's with my iBook. 

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Real quick, Google for 'lansing mi church'

This opportunity may not last more than the next 20 or so days depending on when Google's spiders do their thing the next time.

Go to Google's search page and plug in: lansing mi church 


And then see what comes up in the number one position.  Right now, it's Our Savior Church in Lansing, Michigan, a member of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.  It's taken almost two years worth of effort to get to this point with the search engines.

More than two years ago, some of its leaders made a decision to use the web as a dynamic source of information for the congregation and other interested parties.  My son and I played key roles in making the transition to Dreamweaver and Contribute.

Getting church leaders and members to transition from a predominantly paper-based communications paradigm has been another part of the effort.  Churches seem to be slow in crossing this rubicon, but they must if they want to communicate with changing generations.

The next challenge is to get the church school, Our Savior Lutheran School, and its portion of the website optimized to make it more competitive as parents use the web to shop for local schools.

It's exciting to be part of this and at times frustrating.  I would be glad to share insights with anybody who's interested.

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BarCamp at RIT in Rochester, New York

When Justin told me that he was one of the sponsors of Rochester barcamp this coming Saturday--July 14--at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), I was thinking more along the lines of building a better Southern Comfort Manhattan.

But my frame of collegiate reference is Michigan State University during the turbulent sixties when academics seemed to center around the virtues of Stroh's versus a Hamm's.  And grad students upped it a notch talking about Southern Comfort versus Jim Beam.

That's not my son's Rochester barcamp.  It's a chance for all the geeks in the area and others with something to share about their research to share it with others in a very ad-hoc open environment.

Keep in mind that RIT is one of the outstanding tech schools in the world.  Other schools like MIT may come up with the theories, but it's RIT that gets it to work.  If you're in the Rochester area next Saturday, it's worth checking out.

I hope that they put up podcasts.  I'd love to be part of it that way.

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My pallbearers; I'm picking them now

I remember when Dr. Gary Rosberg spokes at Promise Keepers at Soldiers Field in Chicago.  He told the packed stadium about the importance of guarding your heart.  In fact, I think I have a book someplace with that title. 

This year, he's speaking to Promise Keepers again and he talks about how the closest a lot of men get to other men is when their casket is carried by pallbearers.  He also emphasizes the importance of having six men who can help carry you now.  He explains more in this mp3 cut.  It's worth a listen.

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Churches and schools need to make use of e-mail newsletters using Jakob Nielsen guidelines

Our church does an e-mail newsletter as kind of an after-thought.  The church office has a bunch of e-mail addresses of members and interested parties and will pop out an e-note as a reminder for activities and actions needed.

It would be too easy to kind of nod and say the e-newsletter was okay and go on from there.

But check Jakob Nielsen's newsletter summarizing his latest research on how users react to e-newsletters.  Follow certain guidelines and you'll get a chunk of the audience, he says.  They still work and are worth the effort, especially if they are done right.

This is important for churches and other ministries who typically are behind the communication 8-ball. 

By the way, Nielsen is a web usability pioneer and his research is valuable for anybody with a presence on the web.

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Marriage is going down the dumper in Michigan

These stats are from a Detroit Free Press story yesterday about how Michigan's Friend of the Court system will be down more than $50 million in fed money this next fiscal year.  It talked about the effects of that and also shared these stats about marriage, families and kids in Michigan. It's something that needs to be talked about at all levels:

  • Between 1970 and 2000, Michigan's population increased by 12 percent, but divorces rose 30 percent and births to unmarried people jumped 146 percent.

  • The numbers have put a strain on Friend of the Court offices and
    family courts. Nearly 70 percent of all new state court cases are filed in the family court division.

  • Many family cases involve protracted legal proceedings because parents can't agree on basic things such as visitation.

  • A rough estimate is that 20% of the cases consume 80% of the family courts' time and an expanded mediation system to resolve conflicts could be part of the solution.

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Is this story in about President Bush true?

John at has a great story about President George W. Bush and the experience of one person with the President in the Oval Office.  Go to the post and scroll down about two thirds of the way because John usually has one post a day including many different items.

Could it be that liberals hate Bush so much because of his boldness in declaring and living out his faith in Jesus Christ?  It's worth a read.

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