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24 posts from September 2007

In Lansing, MI, our pastor fails to pray for legislature and the governor as shutdown looms

Hey, how many of you Michigan churchgoers went this morning and the pastor didn't pray for our political leaders and the possible shutdown of state government?

Mine didn't.  I would like to think that ours just missed the severity of what's going on.  His sermon was about prayer and he did pray for a variety of things and people, but not for our governor, our state legislators nor the many people who have been and stand to be hurt more by the stalemate in Lansing.

Would the prayers of our small church make a difference in a very polarized and very political situation?  I don't know.  Does God care about the Michigan Legislature and its inability to govern our state?

I bet he does.

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Michigan Republicans need to match their words with their actions

Michigan Republicans have been bleating for weeks about how they demanding spending cuts in the state budget.  They stuck to their mantra of cuts and reforms.  Now when the hammer is ready to fall on a state government shutdown, what happens?

They fold.  Their convictions turn to jello.  Michigan residents will pay more income and sales taxes and no apparent spending cuts. 

This is not good government.  It makes our state look like some banana republic where conviction and principle is tossed out the window for the whims of questionable leaders.

Democrats are no better.  They knew only one tune and that was to raise taxes.

How long will voters allow this vacuum of leadership on both sides?

Leon Drolet should look at circulating recall petitions for the whole legislature and for the governor. 

We need political leaders with the courage of their convictions and with wisdom.

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This is the 1,000th post on my blog, Daily Grit

This is my 1,000th post on this blog, Daily Grit which I started about three years ago as an experiment with this new channel of communication.

It's been an adventure that reminds me of my first days at Michigan State University's School of Journalism1417991272_a1396bff74_m back in the mid-1960s when we first started using IBM Selectric typewriters and when there were new business visionaries who talked about writing news stories on computers someday.

I remember sitting in the old Press Room at the Michigan State Capitol Building

writing my column for a chain of small newspapers and then transmitting it back to the newspaper chain's corporate office on a clunky machine with a big spinning drum that you attached the copy paper to.  A light would read it and transmit the copy.  I don't even remember the name of the machine.

Continue reading "This is the 1,000th post on my blog, Daily Grit" »

Reading the morning papers about Michigan's budget crisis is not fun

Michigan lawmakers  are taking are state right to the edge  of a big financial cliff. 

According to this morning's online newspapers, the consequences of the state legislature not being able to adopt a budget by Oct. 1 and causing a shutdown of state government could last for years.  Here's what I've read so far:

We seem to be at a historic moment in the state's history.  Michigan once was a leader  in being able to govern itself.  That doesn't seem to be the case anymore.    Where's this all going to end?  Whatever happens, I'm sure it won't be pretty.

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Does Lutheran World Relief know that their survey company is doing this?

Do you feel that this is being honest?

I just got a call where my caller ID said the identity of the caller was unavailable.  I'm not sure why I picked it up, but I did and the caller identified herself as either being from or calling for Lutheran World Relief.

They wanted to take a survey.  She said I would not be asked for a contribution.

I felt stung that my own church body--the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS) --would use a survey firm where such secular and misleading tactics would be used.  I would have felt different if the caller ID had reflected the identity of the caller. 

Because of their tactics being like those of most other telemarketers, I declined the conversation.

Lutheran World Relief should apologize and should vow to be more transparent in its calling efforts. 

How is their ways different from the world's ways?

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Can our neighborhood in blue-collar town make use of a "Ning" social media site to build community?

My wife and I along with our elderly Beagle, Snoopy, live in the southwest corner of Michigan's capital city.  It's a great place to live.  It's very residential and very livable for middle-class standards.  But, it still has the challenges that come from living in a city with a hundred-thousand plus population.

That's why my wife and I are starting to become active in our neighborhood association.  We are empty-nesters and the meetings take place during prime snooze time for our dog who sees with her nose.

Averillwoods We've met a whole lot more of our neighbors  and have had a chance to discuss neighborhood challenges and hopes.  The goal is to get everybody to take a part and to play some kind of role in the neighborhood.  That's why I started a "Ning" site for the Averill Woods Neighborhood Association.

It's pure social media with a blog, forums, groups and room for much more.  The platform is there to build an online community. 

The challenge is whether residents of the neighborhood who are still learning web 1.0 can grab onto some basic concepts of web 2.0.  If this experiment works, then we may have a model for other neighborhoods around the country to emulate.

I'm anxious to learn whether other neighborhoods have used Ning or similar sites.  What can we learn from your experience?

My neighbor--Rita Bunton--has her life story available on Amazon

We sat across from each other at the monthly meeting of our neighborhood association meeting in the southwest corner of Michigan's capital city.  Rita Bunton was one of maybe 25 people sitting in a middle school library talking about mutual concerns stemming from life in our part of the city.

Then when we left, she handed me a postcard promoting a new book that she had written, her life story describing what it was "like to be a black working-class girl in a blue-collar Midwestern town in the 1950s and 60s.

When I got home from the meeting, I found her book on Amazon.  I do want to read it and learn more about her and her life.

I hope our neighborhood gets behind her and buys and reads the book.  Hopefully, we can talk more at the next neighborhood association meeting or before.

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Neighborhood street cameras move one step closer to reality in Lansing, MI

This story from today's Lansing State Journal states that our city is moving one step closer to getting almost a dozen high-powered street cameras with the power to record action down below in high definition.

The Lansing City Council is expected to approve the cameras and they are expected to give their okay for a loan to purchase them. 

If the City Council fails to approve them, Mayor Virg Bernero says he will buy them anyway. 

This has all taken place without invited collaboration with city residents.

  • Will the cameras make a difference?
  • What about the other elements of the mayor's plan?  Does anybody remember what they are?
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Think about the children of 28-year-old suspected serial killer

Here in Michigan's State Capitol city, 28-year-old Matthew Macon is suspected of being a serial killer.  He's suspected in the deaths of several women some of whom were brutally assaulted.

Today's Detroit Free Press has a story about how Macon has fathered at least four children with three women.  One of the children is eight years old.

Think of his kids.  Think of his position of being a father and then think about his preparation to be a dad.  If he's convicted, he won't stop being a father and his kids will not stop needing to know their real father.

How will his kids be affected by what he has done, what he has allegedly done and his inability to fulfill his role as a father.

Will the cycle continue with his children?  What can be done to stop it?  Can he start fulfilling his parental role from inside prison if he's convicted?

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It's Sunday morning which means another church service and sermon

How many of you will go to church this morning?

I will start getting ready shortly to go to church with my wife.  I've gone to church most Sundays in my life.  That means lots of sermons, lots of hymns.  It's too easy to go just out of habit.

I'm not very practiced in preparing my heart for church.  Last night, our neighbors joined us for supper and a Bible study about prophecy involving the last days.  This morning I read the devotion in Our Daily Bread and I read its text from Exodus 33:12-17 about Moses asking God to go with him as he led the children of Israel through the desert.

God replied to Moses:

14 The LORD replied, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest."

I'm counting on that promise this morning.  I don't want going to church to be just another exercise to get checked off on my to-do list.

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Michigan's budget crisis: Detroit Free Press' Ron Dzwonkoski tells leaders to stop being pathetic

Newspaper editorials don't have the power they used to. But, if they did, the butts of Michigan's political leaders would be hurting from the kick of Detroit Free Press editorial director Ron Dzwonkowski.  His words are worth reading.

Ron is not a flame thrower with his words and he's not a partisan.  He's a former reporter turned editorial writer who cares deeply about our state and its people.

In his editorial, he makes it clear that Michigan is in big trouble and its leaders need to do the responsible thing. 

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It's way too easy to blame politicians for possible shutdown of state government in Michigan

If you read today's stories in the Detroit Free Press about how Michigan's state government is close to a shutdown, it's easy to get a good blood boil going about its politicians.

It's their job to be responsible and pass a spending plan for the state for 2007-08, right?  That's why we elected them and besides they get a really fat paycheck to get the job done.  So what's wrong?

To find who's at fault, just go look in the mirror.  That's right, it's the person you see who shares a lion's share of the fault.  What do I mean by that?

Simple. The Michigan Legislature which seems to be irreparably divided is just a reflection of the people it represents.  Residents in the Great Lakes State are divided more than ever before.  There's no consensus on much of anything.

The state's political parties have leaders who are more concerned about winning elections and holding power than solving problems and governing.  Neither party is driven by principle.  Their passion is winning to hold power just for the sake of having it.

My fellow residents have fallen into their trap.  They are driven by their prejudices.  Perhaps it involves tax increases.  It seems there's almost a knee jerk reaction without either side listening.  The facts or the desire to get the facts are subservient to internal partisan prejudice.

The solution is not easy.  State residents need to recognize that they have abidicated the power that belongs to them to the elected politicians. Then they need to start taking their government back.  They must care about what functions state government performs.  They must talk about them and decide what they want.

The list of issues is huge.  But, while this is happening,  they need to demand that their leaders keep the government going.  There needs to be consensus and among honorable people, there should be the motivation and willingness to find it.

That's my two-cents worth.  Any other opinions?

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Dr. Randy Carlson goes live with new Intentional Living website

Dr. Randy Carlson of Family Life Communications and who hosts a daily radio talk show dispensing Christian-based life coaching has gone live with his new Intentional Living website which you can use to sort through issues and goals.  If I understand correctly, the goal is to help you do what you intend versus letting life just happen.

I haven't tried it out yet, but I will and I will report back.  I would love to hear about other's who used it, especially babyboomer retirees.

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With new crossover utility vehicles, General Motors light shining in Lansing (MI) area

In the past few years, mention General Motors here in central Michigan and not too many people would have a smile on their face.  Maybe that's changing with GM's three new crossover utility vehicles (CUV) built here in the Lansing-area.

According to this morning's online Wall Street Journal (subscription required), GM's three brand new CUVs, the Buick Enclave, Saturn Outlook and GMC Acadia are connecting with car buyers and with those who are trading-in Asian-made cars.  Some interesting facts from the story:

  • About two-thirds of the vehicles GM sells through its dealerships go to customers who trade in GM vehicles.
  • Only a fraction, less than 3%, go to people trading in vehicles made by Toyota or Honda.
  • The three new CUVs  do much better.  Half of all Acadias and Outlooks go to customers who trade in GM vehicles; about 20% go to people trading Asian-brand vehicles.  For the Buick Enclave, the 14% of the trade-ins are Asian vehicles.
The story quotes one Chicago-area new car dealer saying that the new vehicles are selling as soon as they come off the truck.

That's great news for GM, for the Lansing (MI) area and for a struggling state of Michigan economy.

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A post to my son as he returns to his home in Washington D.C.

Thanks for coming home to hang-out with me and mom over the long Labor Day weekend. We loved it.  Mom and I are both deeply proud of you and who you are.  But as your dad, let me state very clearly for you, the blogosphere and for the web archives that last forever, that as your dad, I am very proud of the man you have become. You're doing great.  You know who you are, you know your purpose, you know where your true identity comes from and your living life as an adult. 


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When you were a toddler and when I would help put you to bed, I would tell you that you are a winner.  Well, that's never changed.  You still are a winner in my book as your dad and in our book as your parents.  That doesn't mean that you won't make mistakes and have bad days.  But as I've told you and Krista, the secret is how you get up.  Work hard to maintain the passion you feel and look forward to each transition and passage that you will experience.  Life is a ride.  When you have one phase mastered, you move into the next and it doesn't stop. 

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While you were home, we loved the conversations, the meals, the wine, a few beers, Sequence games, a Scrabble game where mom won again, picking up the old Lumina again from Bill and Charlies, going to church together and having your high school friends over for supper. God has blessed mom and I with two kids who are both winners.  I am very proud of both you and Krista.  As we age don't forget the power of family and the important role they play. We are looking forward to visiting you in your new apartment later this year and viewing life from your side of the country. I Love  You, Your Proud Dad

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Check out these pics of Uganda mission trip by National Community Church, Wash. D.C.

Just before we head out for church, I spotted this blog from National Community Church in Washington, D.C. about their recent mission trip to Uganda to build an orphanage.  It's loaded with great pics.  Just think of all the short-term mission trips. Lots of potential bloggers there!

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Why would there be opposition to Marathon refinery expansion in southwest Detroit?

Marathon Oil Company is proposing to expand its refinery in southwest Detroit.  The expansion would allow processing of 15,000 more barrels a day of crude oil from Canada.  In an editorial this morning, the Detroit News says this adds about 630,000 gallons of a gas a day to the Michigan market.

The editorial encourages state and local officials to give the oil company all the tax breaks and incentives it needs to make it happen. 

It also says that the company will invest $1 billion in the proposed expansion. 

Who could be opposed to that?

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UAW says GM retirees won't pay more for healthcare

As the clock ticks towards the expiration of the UAW contract with the Big Three auto companies, a UAW negotiator says GM's retirees won't pay more for their healthcare, according to this morning's Detroit News.

For the past several months, GM has been telling UAW that the union should take administration of the retiree's healthcare program after the auto company makes a huge one time payment.

Contracts expire on Friday, Sep. 14.

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