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35 posts from July 2007

Southside block party shows need for Citizen Journalism in Lansing, MI

I could get all sweaty and worked-up about our town's newspaper, the Lansing State Journal.  Pure and simple, it's not living up to the historical responsibilities that have been part and parcel of a free press since the founding of our country.

That's a strong statement and it seems harsh and I don't feel good about saying it. 

But, I firmly believe that one of the reasons that our part of mid-Michigan is stalled and stuck is because there's a shortage of information about all aspects of activities that affect the quality of life in this area.  They are just not covered.

One example:  We have a primary election in early August for City Council where I will vote for a council member for our third ward and one who will represent our city at-large.

How do you make an informed decision about who to vote for?  Look to the State Journal and you don't even get teased with information.  There's an occasional half-reported story, but never enough with which to make a firm decision.

Last weekend, here in the southwest side, there was a block party that got reported in the State Journal today.  It a small space, they report that up to 1,000 people gathered.  The police closed it down with police dogs and apparent over reaction.  I'm sure there's several sides to this story.  But, it's barely being reported.

That's why it's time for Citizen Journalism to kick in.  Ordinary citizens can become reporters through the use of blogs.  It's being done in other parts of the country.

Lansing citizens need other sources of information.

Anybody interested?

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In mid-Michigan, looking through my periscope at the whole state and other places

This morning I'm working in my home office doing some blogging of various types including some notes about what's happening here in Michigan.  Here's what's grabbing my attention on this humid July day:

  • Is GM's show-and-tell with its plug-in hybrid the Chevy Volt just eyewash to keep the U.S. Congress off its back with new fuel efficiency increases?  Detroit News story says the Volt would allow drivers to go up to 40 miles on an electric motor.  The car which could be in production by 2010 also has a traditional internal combusion engine.
  • Why isn't this happening in Michigan?  U.S. unemployment rate for June was 4.5 percent as the economy added 132,000 workers.
  • Michigan's unemployment rate in June jumped from 6.9 percent to 7.2 percent.  Why isn't the economy turning around in our state?  Ask politicians and they point fingers at each other.
  • What about Michigan House Democratic attempts to raise taxes on wireless phone bills?  Does this include VOIP which isn't taxed now, I believe?  Sponsors of this need to explain why this is needed.
That's it for now.  I'm sure I'll see more as the day progresses.

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Time to put the flag at half mast for Aunt Florence Vandenberg-Moran

Aunt_florence_3My mom had 11-brothers and sisters which means that I started life with 22 aunts and uncles.

Early this morning, my Aunt Florence Vandenberg-Moran died in Destin Florida.  She was in her mid-eighties.

It's easy to gloss over the significance of an individual person like Aunt Florence in my life.  My aunts and uncles were always one corner of the foundation that I built my life on. 

Coming from a single parent family, I relied more than I like to think on the examples and support of each one.  There was always Uncle Wes, Uncle Paul, Uncle Ralph, Aunt Aileen, another Uncle Paul--Florence's late husband, Uncle Charles, Aunt Emma, Uncle Ed and the list goes on.

As a group, I saw my aunts and uncles live through the stresses and strains of everyday life.  They had their victories and defeats and they had their disagreements.  As a young boy, I carefully watched and took mental notes that I later used in my own life.

There was also the history.  Aunt Florence would talk about the day that Pearl Harbor was attacked.  She talked about her childhood when her mom and dad--my grandparents--died and how she was raised by brothers and sisters, including my mom.  She told about my Uncle Paul's days in the Army Air Corps during World War II and the stories that are now part of history.

But, I always felt a special connection to her.  When I was in my early teens and she was in a Lansing (MI) hospital, my mom and I traveled from Bay City to visit her.  I walked down to the State Capitol building where I made discoveries that would affect the rest of my life.

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Retirement-refirement reading: I need to read NYT article on rapid and irregular heart beat-atrial fibrillation

A note to myself: 

Read this New York Times article from today's online edition about the treatment for rapid and irregular heartbeat, also called atrial fibrillation.

Billions are spent by insurance companies to treat this problem, the story says.  Best hope to treat for a cure is a procedure known as catheter-based ablation.

My reason to read this:  My mom suffered from this and she had a stroke.  I don't know how much of this you inherit, but I imagine there's a good chance that I could.

I wonder how many non-medical types stay informed about health conditions they have or could inherit?

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Is Fred Thompson lying about his lobbying for pro-abortion group?

Here we go again:  Is Fred Thompson lying about his alleged lobbying for a pro-abortion group?  It would be nice to have a political leader who is completely transparent and truly shares what he has done or what was on his mind.

The Washington Post has an AP story today about how Thompson lobbied for the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association.  His work for the group was verified by individuals in the group and by a former president.

The rub comes from the fact that he's presenting himself as pro-life and conservative on social issues. 

Is he just being opportunistic to present himself in a favorable light for the Christian Right?  Is he telling the truth that he has no recollection of performing this pro-abortion lobbying? 

It's time for him to blog about it and it's time to stay away from what he thinks people want to hear.

I'm disappointed, but not shocked.

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New York Times story talks about how Hillary Clinton is a faith-based person

Can you be Hillary Rodham Clinton and still be a Christian?

A lot of conservative Christians would probably have some interesting answers given the volatility of opinion about her.

But today's New York Times presents a different view of this presidential candidate.  In this article, she freely talks about her belief in and relationship with God.  She carries a Bible with her and reads commentaries while on the road.

It's an interesting read and presents another side to a controversial person.  New York Times requires quick but free registration to read it.

Is she being real or just opportunistic given her run for president?

My faith background says I can't judge that.

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Starting my day: My life in mid-Michigan on 07-07-07

Notes from my first online reading of the day:

1) Our Daily Bread from Radio Bible Class--Bill Crowder, one of my favorite RBC writers, writes about giving up when you're going through the life grinder. 

He points to Chris Couch who was only 16 years old when he first qualified for the PGA tour.  He was expected to be a golfing prodigy.  He wasn't.  He stuck with it until he won his first tournament at age 32.  To deal with those periods where you feel like quitting he points to 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.

2) Detroit News reports about how higher income parents in the Detroit area are spending big bucks to throw lavish parties for their young children. 

Reporter makes point that this is happening while Michigan's economy is continuing slide downhill.  The higher income folks are not being affected by the bad economy here.

3) Lansing State Journal reports about today's date being 07-07-07 and how local people are reacting to it.  Will today be any different?  Lots of biblical significance to the number.

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My retirement refirement: Dr. Randy Carlson's Intentional Living website doesn't describe intentional life

As I sit in my wife's third grade classroom where she's cleaning out files, I have been reading through Dr. Randy Carlson's Intentional Living website looking for principles that I can use.

This is part of my effort as a retired baby-boomer to get refired and move more quickly into the next chapter of my life.

There's none there.  His site alludes to it and gives you the impression that it includes resources to help you understand and make it part of your life.

My impression is that if I buy the Intentional Life CD collection, then I can find out.  I've listened to his daily radio program occasionally since it moved from being Parent Talk to the Intentional Life.

My wife and I were monthly supporters of Parent Talk.  But, we haven't re-upped to the new emphasis.

Quite frankly, I've noticed that Dr. Carlson seems to have taken a bent more towards being a merchandiser.  Sign up for his newsletters and you get e-mails every week and sometimes more often about specials.

On his program, he talks about his passion to get people to live intentionally in all major areas of their lives, especially in their relationship with God. 

I'm disappointed that his sense of mission seems to stop at the cash register.  You have to pay to get the information.  This doesn't impress me.  I hope my perception is wrong.

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My retirement refirement: Learning Intentional Living from Family Life Communications

Yesterday, I posted about being a sixty-year-old retired baby-boomer and my recognition that it's time to move into the refirement stage.  I don't have this all figured out yet, but I do have some directions.

I know that I have to start moving forward with INTENT.  My wife and I have been monthly financial supporters of Dr. Randy Carlson and his radio program Parent Talk which has transitioned into Intentional Living. 

On the surface, it seems like his intentional life principles are incredibly relevant for people my age.

I will be reading and listening.  I'm happy to see that he has an Intentional Living website.  I will report back.

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Scanning online news: GM's June sales down 21 percent from a year ago

From this morning's Detroit News:  GM's June sales were down 21 percent from a year ago, with sales down 7 percent year to date.

The story states:

Particularly troubling is that sales of GM's redesigned full-size pickup trucks fell 23 percent, while sales of Toyota's new Tundra, its first full-size pickup, more than doubled.

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Scanning online news: Detroit automakers looking at transferring retiree healthcare to UAW

From this morning's Detroit News:  Carmakers are trying to get UAW to buy into changing healthcare paradigm for its retirees.  Under this proposal, the union would use money from a Big Three trust fund to pay these costs which are making U.S. cars less competitive.

The proposal would be based on an agreement between Goodyear, the tiremaker, in Akron, Ohio where such an arrangement is in the process of being implemented.

According to the story:

"GM, along with Ford and Chrysler, will spend more than $10 billion on healthcare this year--more than they will spend on steel, by some estimates.

"A study by the Troy-based Harbour-Felax Group found that healthcare costs add as much as $1,4000 to the price of vehicless produced by Detroit automakers compared to those made by their Japanese rivals."

Daily devotion: When I'm on my knees before God, my heart needs to be there too

As I start my day, I'm reading the daily devotion from Our Daily Bread based on Psalm 95:6:  "Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker."

The Radio Bible Class writer Marvin Williams makes the point that the ancient Greeks and Romans viewed kneeling as something unsuitable for them to do.  It was against the culture.

He goes on that in the Bible kneeling is a way to show reverence towards God.  It shows respect and worship.  But, Williams reminds that we should not only kneel physically.  Our heart needs to be humble before God too.

It's something for me to remember and ponder today.

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Baby-boomer alert: My two-and-a-half year retirement report

I just rewrote my biography for the  ABOUT section of this blog. 

I spent too much time talking about the past and not enough about the present or the future.

I've been retired as a state of Michigan employee for two-and-a-half years and I've had time to take stock of what I've done in the past and what I've left undone.

My 1946 birthdate puts me in the first class of baby-boomers who are lapping on the edges of being senior citizens as they hit their 60th birthday.  I know that I've moved into the next chapter in the book of my life journey. 

My joints feel different, I've taken an avid interest in flossing, I look for senior discounts and I've become re-acquainted with the word N-A-P.

During the past 30 months I've had a chance to look back at my life in as much detail as I could tolerate.  I had been involved with maintaining my church's extensive website. I also tried consulting and struggled at showing clients how to do something versus doing it myself.

I've stayed in touch with our two grown children, a son and a daughter.  Their lives as independent adults are humming and taking form.  With my daughter, I can talk about life and politics and with my son, it's the web as a tool to bring the world's people closer together.

As I look ahead and as I look at transitioning from retirement into refirement, I know it's time to move ahead.  I've made mistakes and I've recovered.  I've had successes and been really blessed.  I know that I have a purpose that's bigger than sitting on the deck we hope to build in the backyard this summer.

My personal agenda in the coming days will include:

  1. More time spent with God.  I've struggled with this.  I always thought that you had to have a middle-man to have this.  The middle-person, I thought, was the church.  For me, it had become an obstacle to accomplishing that.  Praying more is on my agenda.  In the past, I've been a "Come Lord Jesus be our guest" kind of guy.  God should hear from me in my own words.
  2. More emphasis on my health.  I've taken this for granted.  Most of my life I've been up and down with my weight.  It's time for this to change.  There's part of me that says this will be too hard.  Another part says, it could be fun.  I know I have a hypertension challenge.  I take a med for it.  Perhaps, I can work my way out of that.  Then there's glaucoma.  That's being managed.
  3. More time spent serving others.  Because of our aging beagle, Snoopy, I've had a chance to get to know my neighbors on our daily walks.  I need to be more sensitive to how I can serve them. 
  4. More time spent on being a blog coach and consultant.  I've always had an interest in and a passion for communication.  The web has changed the rules of the game dramatically.  I'd love to play more of a role helping people use this new tool.
I hope to use my personal blog--Daily Grit--as a record and as a tool to help me record and sort through what I read, think, talk about, am concerned about and want to share with other people. 

I'm glad I'm sixty.  This could be an exciting time.  I know I have to be really intentional about what I'm doing.

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Apple iPhone takes almost minute-and-a-half to load Detroit Free Press homepage

Here's a little tidbit from Mike Wendland, Detroit Free Press tech columnist:  It took his iPhone a minute, 27 seconds to download  That's not too impressive, right. 

Other than that and some e-mail challenges, he was pretty upbeat about the new phone.

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Celebrating iPhone purchase: Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV with champagne

I met Gary Vaynerchuk in the current Time magazine where an article tells about his daily video blog about wine that gets 25,000 viewers.  So I tuned into his latest show-Episode #267-where he toasts his new iPhone purchase with various kinds of champagne.

I've always got kind of lost in the wine aisle at our local Meijers until our son came home from college with all kinds of wine knowledge obtained from two of his classes.  My knowledge level has increased, but I still have more to learn.

Gary's video blog is great.  New Jersey guys like him have a certain realness that gives them believability and which makes them entertaining.  This guy doesn't come across as a wine snob. 

So, maybe my wife and I will have more choices than Lambrusco and Mogen David when we watch Friday night television and other occasions.

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