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28 posts from November 2007

Should Michigan's motto be "Embarrassments 'R' Us"?

In my political blog--Politics Through Michigan Eyes--I talk about Detroit News columnist Daniel Howes' assertion that the Michigan Legislature is an embarrassment and is working towards getting business and residents to leave the state.    

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Should you write blog posts, while eating your oatmeal and Craisins early in the morning?

I wrote this post on my political blog--Politics Through Michigan Eyes--while eating my oatmeal with Craisins this morning.  Sounds harsh.  I wonder if anybody else is feeling the same way about the Michigan Legislature's failure to save state residents from the start of the sales tax on services.

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Mortgage fraud in Michigan is rampant, according to Detroit News series

Just spotted this package of stories from the Detroit News about mortgage fraud in Michigan which has led to a record number of foreclosures. Bigstockphoto_bank_foreclosure_op_2

  • I wonder how high this issue is on the agenda of the Michigan Legislature.
  • Have legislative oversight hearings been held?
  • Is the same thing happening in other states?

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How is recycling being embraced in Michigan and around the country?

In a couple of minutes, I will take our bags of yard waste and our recycling bin to the curb for city of Lansing (MI) pick-up.  I remember when recycling was a big issue.  There hasn't been any buzz about it lately.  Why?

How much has it been embraced here locally, in the state of Michigan and around the country?

As I find answers to this policy question, I will post them in my political blog--Politics Through Michigan Eyes.

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My conclusion after last night's CNN Republican YouTube debate: Nominate Ray Romano for president

I really want to feel good about one of the candidates for president on the Republican ticket.  That's why I watched almost an hour-and-a-half of last night's CNN Republican YouTube debate.  I even kept notes on my computer and I tried to watch with an open-mind. 

I know the importance of the upcoming presidential election.  This country is at a crossroads where citizens are feeling a significant level of distrust in their government.  Our future as the America that I grew up with and that I want to see in the future for my kids is being determined now and the prospects don't look bright. 

So, I watched and listened. My conclusion:  I would have gotten more out of watching The Amazing Race or Prison Break. 

What I saw were a collection of candidates who appeared to be more interested in holding power than doing something positive with it. I didn't see anybody who could rally our polarized citizenry and get them to reach a consensus on how to restore trust in our government.  Perhaps, Ron Paul came the closest to having unmovable convictions that recognized the limitations of government.  But, he has the same chances of winning the presidency as Barry Goldwater did in 1964.

My proposal:  Get the actor and stand-up comedian Ray Romano to run on the Republican ticket.  He played a role on Everybody Loves Raymond who was transparent and real.  He and his family had warts that they weren't afraid to show.  They had no pretenses.  They had their individual agendas and they bickered and fought to make them happen. 

In the end, they always came together for the good of their family. That's what this country needs right now.

So, what about it Ray Romano?    

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Can I use this blog to help me wend my way through the transitions of becoming a senior citizen?


I've had this blog for a little more than three years.  And during that time I have tried to refine my purpose for it and have tried to identify my potential audience.

If I don't do this, then I'm afraid that this blog will wander out into the ozone of the blogosphere with2146112015_e403515462_m little noise and even less effect.  It's time for me to do it again.

I have firmly entered some heavy-duty transitions in my life and I want to make sure that I know where I want to go and what I want to do.

Then I want to make firm moves to get it done.  It's far too easy to let time slide by without anything to show for it. 


Here goes on my re-purposed thoughts on this blog:

  • First, my most important audience is me.  Yeah, I'm writing it for myself.  Why, you ask?
I'm sixty-one years old and I know the clock is ticking and that the number of ticks I have left are getting fewer and fewer.  More than ever before I want to make time count. 

This means knowing my priorities and devoting my attention to them. In the past, I've been very cause driven.   I've wanted to do my part to make this world a better place to live.

During much of my life I felt that I could best do that through being a newspaper reporter and then through politics.  That experience left me feeling less than satisfied that I was moving towards my goal.

  • This blog is a place where I can throw down ideas and see how they sound.  It might be a full-fledged treatment of what I'm thinking or it might be bits and pieces.  Firming up my beliefs is important to me.  With the Daily Grit, I can write them down on virtual paper and then refine them. 
Sometimes it might sound stupid, questionable, searching, curious.  But, it will be my thought process at work.
  • Second audience for this blog will be others who are searching for the purpose and for their place in the world.  Perhaps, there can be a synergy of encouragement and ideas that can be useful to others.
  • Third audience would be those interested in what I'm reading, what I'm hearing and what I've experienced.  I read a ton of varied fare online and I'd like to share it through links and comments.  I'm particularly interested in my home state of Michigan and how it deals with its serious problems. 
As a member of the first class of baby boomers, I've had a wide-variety of experience.  It's time to start sharing some of that for anybody who might be interested and who might gain from it.

I will continue this effort from time to time to refine my purpose for this blog.  My hope is that it will be valuable for me and for the audiences that I mentioned.

Reviewed again on Jan. 6,2008

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If you're Gen X or Y and looking for a church in Washington D.C., then check out The Church of the Resurrection

Sunday night, our son--Justin--took us to a service at his church--The Church of the Resurrection on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.  In a bunch of conversations, he has shared his enthusiasm for this conservative Anglican Church which caters to those in their twenties.

Well, we got a taste for what he had been talking about.  Walk in the front door just down the street from the Eastern Market and you feel the welcoming community from those who attend.  As somebody who is one year away from being able to collect a Social Security check, I felt very welcomed with many young outstretched hands attached to members who wanted to know more about my wife and me.

The packed service featured a liturgy that was embraced with spirit and with a gusto that signaled a strong desire to connect with God.  The message was focused on the hope of the Gospel. 

We saw lots of pens taking notes. There was also an adult baptism and there was Holy Communion. After the service, we went to Tunnicliff's Tavern, just around the corner from the church where we had supper.     

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Is Pastor Ryan of The Crux in Indy just plain naive about what Christmas should mean?

While visiting during our family Thanksgiving celebration in Washington D.C. this past weekend, my daughter shared with me about her church's involvement in the Advent Conspiracy.  Their Gen X church--The Crux in Indianapolis--is trying to move its membership away from the consumerism of the season. 

They are taking on urban needs, including financial support for a struggling Christian school in the city, the Indianapolis Christian School.  These twenty-somethings are talking about getting involved in solving homelessness, AIDs and hunger. 

Listen to their Pastor Ryan on this YouTube video as he walks through the cold streets of downtown Indy at night and talks about how he sees Christmas changing lives--is he being naive, he asks:

Family get-together report: On Saturday morning we visited Washington D.C.'s Eastern Market

We continued our family Thanksgiving celebration yesterday with Gladys, Krista, Justin and I venturing outPb240025 into a couple of different Capitol Hill neighborhoods. Our walk took us through eye-catching residential areas mixed in with federal buildings.  Here's some highlights:

  • We went through Eastern Market which apparently has a ton of history behind it and serves as a source of fresh vegetables, meat and fish sold from stalls in the street and a makeshift building.  The temporary building replaces a historic building which had a debilitating fire earlier this year.
  • We walked through a residential street of row houses where John Philip Sousa used to practice his marches by going up and down the sidewalk.
  • Last night, we visited the Kennedy Center where a visiting musical group was presenting a performance.  The building is building is beautiful and impressive as an icon as a national beacon for the arts.
  • Before heading for the subway, we stopped at a Starbucks in the George Washington University area where we had some great conversation with a new addition to the Thanksgiving celebration.  More about him later.

Thinking about what I have to be thankful for from the position of my son's apartment in Washington D.C.

It's day three of our family get-together at our son's apartment in Washington D.C.  He lives in an apartment building on the southeast side near the Naval Yard and not too far from the new stadium from the Washington Nationals.

Tonight is our belated Thanksgiving dinner to be cooked by our son.  We will have a special guest, a guy from North Carolina who's interested in our daughter and she in him.

During our walking around some of the sights--Lincoln Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, National Mall, Starbucks, Library of Congress--I've been meditating on what I have to be thankful for.  Here's the tip of my list:

  • John 3:16--this verse from the Bible kept going through my head last night before I went to bed, when I woke up to pee and when I got up.  It's a verse that I learned at Mt. Olive Lutheran School in Bay City, MI for a Christmas program and it always stayed with me.
Over the decades, it's one verse that's stayed with me and at age 61, I can see that it contains the only real hope and truth for any of us.  I may not know what lies ahead for the world and the small role that I have in it. 

But, I know that God loves me and that I will spend eternity with him.  I live in that hope.

  • My wife Gladys who has loved me unconditionally for more than 26 years of marriage.  She's a God-reflector to me.  I see Him and His love everyday through her.  When God pointed us towards each other I was given more than I deserve.  I thank God for her everyday.  We have built together a library of memories.
  • Our kids Krista and Justin who have brought and continue to bring joy to my life.  My compendium of memories with the kids is deep and positive.  Being a dad has been the best job of my life.  Being part of their life and their growth is an experience that has topped everything else I've been involved with.  They are full-fledged adults and doing great.  They both have a personal relationship with God and his son Jesus Christ.
This is a start on my thanks list.  I will add as I go along during the next day or two.

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Michigan will start making jobs again, instead of losing them in 2009, according to U of M study

Is this a silver lining in Michigan's employment cloud?

The University of Michigan in its annual forecast of the state's economy, according to the Detroit Free Press, says that our state lost 76,000 jobs this year with another 51,000 expected to be lost next year.  And then in 2009, we are expected to gain 15,000 jobs.

The study says that during a seven year period ending in mid-2000, the state created more than 700,000 jobs.  We went on to lose 400,000 jobs with 70 percent coming from manufacturing. 

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Is federal mortgage lending legislation going to hurt consumers rather than help them?

It would be way too easy this morning to nod my head at U.S. House action that would require mortgage lenders to be licensed and would require them to be sure that their clients have the ability to repay their loans.

Then the red flag pops up in my mind.

The question that haunts me with all this promise of governmental protection for homeowners being threatened with foreclosure is:

How much responsibility should consumers take for their own decisions?

I've read pretty widely about the homeowners who have ARMs that reset to a point that they can't afford and then face foreclosure.  The terms of the ARM are not a secret.  Even if the terms of the mortgage are written in legalese with arcane terms, it's still the consumer's responsibility to protect himself.

What about all the consumers who buy way more home than they can afford?  Isn't it the consumer's responsibility to make a sound judgment about income versus expenses?  Doesn't the mortgage broker share responsibility for being stupid in making this kind of loan?

I've watched government up close all my life.  It does few things well.  In Michigan, it does a poor job of protecting at-risk children from abuse and neglect.  That should be a slam dunk.

Maybe, there are just some things that people need to do for themselves. 

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Last night's debate: Mrs. Clinton can pee in the high weeds with the big dogs, so what?

I'm trying to get more engaged in the fray over who should be next president of the United States.  Like many other Americans I'm looking for a candidate who I can believe in.

So, last night, I watched the first hour of the CNN debate of Democratic presidential candidates that took place in Las Vegas.  Even though I'm a Republican, I want to make an informed judgment.  It was entertaining almost.  Was it worth giving up watching Survivor China?  Probably not. 

Nobody grabbed me like the glass of Leelenau Cellars raspberry wine that was sitting next to me. I realize that Mrs. Clinton last week did the big stutter over the drivers license question regarding illegal aliens. All she did last night was prove that she could pee in the high weeds with the boys.  So what?

The questions bothering most Americans were still unanswered. I realize that the Republicans are a long shot to take the White House again.  I didn't see any Democrat that instilled confidence in me.     

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My third read of the day: Michigan Republicans take a shining to Rudy Giuliani as a presidential candidate

Michigan Republicans, in a poll published today in the Detroit News, say they want Rudy Giuliani as their party's presidential nominee.

Quite frankly, that comes as a surprise to me.  Mitt Romney is a product of Michigan.  During his father's first campaign for governor, Mitt would be at campaign events with his mom and dad. 

How much homework have Michigan voters done about the former New York City mayor.  The whole fiasco about the appointment of Bernard Kerik, his police commissioner, as secretary of Homeland Security raises questions about his judgment and his ability to vette people serving with him.

The question is whether Giuliani will be able to maintain his lead in our state during the next few months.

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My second read of the day: UAW will assume new role as major stockholder in Detroit auto companies

Question of the day:  Will the UAW and Detroit auto companies be more collaborative in decision-making with new contracts making the union a major stockholder?

The Detroit Free Press says in a story this morning that a chunk of the trust funding union retiree health care benefits will include financial instruments that can easily be converted to company stock. 

This means that the UAW and its members and retirees will have more of a direct stake in the companies success.

That's got to be a good thing, right?

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My son, Justin Thorp, decides to get into broadcasting with his new video show

When it comes to the web, Justin has always been an early adopter.  He has been fearless in trying out new tools, new approaches and new channels of web communication.

Now he's starting to video blog.  I'm anxious to see what develops and how he enlarges his global platform as a young web developer.  What he's doing is pretty easy to duplicate by just about anybody.  Think of the implications for all kinds of applications.  Check this out:

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What's wrong with this story about Lansing's (MI) new city council members?

Read this story from today's Lansing State Journal about our city's new city council members.  Our mayor seems to be pretty disagreeable disagree with anybody who disagrees with him.  In the past, he has bad-mouthed council members who question his ideas.  In public, he called one a worthless piece of sh*t.  This story says new council members say the bad blood is water under the dam.  What's missing from this story?

Time to get ready for church.    

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