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18 posts from January 2008

Meet and listen to my new friend, Adam Jones of North Carolina, Bosnia and Philly

I met Adam Jones, 27, in the same way that a lot of fathers do who have twenty-something daughters.

After hearing "super-pumpkin"N509193429_241763_1380_2 talk about him and why he was in the first spot on her list as a "guy-of-interest", we got a chance to meet him.  When I shook his hand for the first time, my dad instincts immediately reached back into my memories of the film "Meet The Parents." 

Knowing that this guy could have some serious long range possibilities with favorite daughter, I instinctively kicked his tires.    I tried to be nice about it.  But, having been trained as a professional question-asker from one of the world's great universities, I started my "who, what, when, where, how, why and so-what." 

I really wanted to find out what made this guy tick.  My daughter was relaxed and my son laughed and my wife smiled during our visit in Washington, D.C.

And, here's what I learned:

Continue reading "Meet and listen to my new friend, Adam Jones of North Carolina, Bosnia and Philly" »

My favorite son--Justin Thorp--joins Clearspring of McLean, VA

My son--Justin Thorp--has made his next move as a professional geek.  2146894052_2e7472c612_m_2 After completing a year with the Library of Congress as their new media person, he accepted an offer from Clearspring--maker of a widget platform, in McClean, VA. 

He will be the community manager for this up-and-coming start-up company and will be working with web developers around the world.  As a layperson, I have just a basic understanding of widgets, but I know they open new doors to distribute web content.  I've used many and I know that only the surface of their potential has been scratched.

Justin's excited about the job and about the company.  When he's excited, he get's other people excited and involved.  I've seen this since he was a young teenager.  He's an organizer and a networker who can get the job done.

I'm one proud dad.  He's a man of character, passion and skill.  Yes, I'm sure I'll be learning a lot more about widgets. 

Clearspring--you got a good guy.

Uncovering my new blog: Southwest Lansing (MI) and my neighborhood

Look to the left margin of this blog and you'll see a link to my new blog:  Southwest Lansing (MI) and my neighborhood.  My goal is to use it as a "viewport" to the city and for my neighborhood for me, my neighbors and everybody else in Lansing.

I've tried to stay informed about what's happening with the issues that concern me and my neighbors as residents of the city.  That's been difficult.

I will try to use this blog as a view to those things that catch my eye.  I invite you to visit it and to leave your comments.

Should Michigan lawmakers be forced into buying their own meals and sports tickets?

Every voter in the state of Michigan should take a shot at this one:

  • Call their state legislators--a state representative and a state senator--and ask them to take a pledge to pay for their own meals and not let a lobbyist take the check.
  • Also ask them that they buy their own sporting event and concert tickets instead of letting a lobbyist do that.
Why, you ask?  It's time to reduce the supersize influence that lobbyists have on our state government. 

Because of their term-limited status, Michigan's state legislators learn to listen real good to lobbyists even before they are sworn in.  And, this continues after the oath is taken when lobbyists regularly buy lunch and supper and all kinds of tickets for their legislative prey.

Now keep in mind lobbyists don't give lawmakers a gift card to a favorite restaurant and say, "hey, take the wife out."  They take the lawmaker who is held hostage at a restaurant table being in a position to do nothing but listen.

Check out this column from the Indy Star's Matthew Tully
who also proposes that lawmakers disclose conversations with lobbyists.  If you talk to a lobbyist, disclose it on your taxpayer-funded website.  There's nothing wrong with talking a special interest, he points out, but be open about it.

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Talking about "scarlet fever" in Bay County, MI in the 1930s and about Psalm 66

Two questions this morning:

  1. How many of you have read through the whole book of Psalms in the Bible?
  2. How many of you have been "body slammed" by circumstances in life? 
This morning at family restaurant on the westside of Lansing, four of us, met again to read through the Psalms one-by-one as a continuation of a men's Bible study.  Today, we tackled Psalm 66. 

Now let me add that I went into this with some preconceived ideas about the Psalms.  Typically, you hear them at a funeral, at a hospital bedside when someone is dying or at a wedding.  Our Psalm journey has shown me to relevant and hope-filled each one is.

However, I've struggled at times to keep them from becoming repetitive.  There's always an enemy waiting to crush you and then there's God who will see our need and respond to it.

This brings me to this morning when one of the guys told about his experience with scarlet fever while growing up in rural Bay County in the 1930s.  He got it and recovered.  His younger brother who was then four years-old got it and died.

He shared his dad's response to his brother's death.  The dad took the victory over tragedy and evil promised in the Psalms and made it come to life in a very real situation.  The power from the word of God has ricocheted through the decades as the son who was spared helped others deal with death. 

His sharing that story really helped me see God's presence on a really cold morning in mid-Michigan in a time where people are being hurt and hurt bad by a whole bunch of stuff.

That was a real "I-spy" where I saw God speak to me and remind me that he's here. 

Thanks.  I know I might have to use and hang onto that promise when I least expect.

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Looking back at the Michigan Presidential Primary

All the hoopla from the Michigan Presidential Primary is over and it's time to take a quick look back.  I did that in my political blog-Politics Through Michigan Eyes.  I raise what I feel are some serious questions from the one week of political attention in our state.

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A must see: Library of Congress uses Flickr to show two photo collections

The Library of Congress made a huge step yesterday in opening the door to our visual past with its new Flickr project.

More than 3,000 photos from its vast collection of millions were put up on the photo sharing site.  2179930812_1c734d4726_m Viewers are invited to tag photos and comment about them.  I found myself losing track of time when I went through photos from the 1930s and 40s taken in this country.

It's worth a look.  Thousands have looked at the picks since yesterday.  Library of Congress blogger Matt Raymond also describes the project.

To the left, a photo from the collection that is not copyrighted.

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Will Michigan be able to land Chinese automaker assembly plant?

The Chinese car companies seem to be putting a real job-creating opportunity in the lap of Gov. Jennifer Granholm.

At this week's North American Auto Show in Detroit, Chinese automakers talk about their plans to sell their vehicles in this country.

This includes the possibility of locating an assembly plant in Michigan or other state, according to Rick Haglund of Booth Newspapers Detroit Bureau.

Is this a contest for auto jobs that our state can win?

How much would the state give to the Chinese to locate their plant in our state?

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Michigan unemployment will get higher during 2008

If you're wondering about job prospects in Michigan, take a look at unemployment expectations in the Great Lakes State for this year.  The Detroit News reports this morning:

In the meantime, up to 51,000 jobs may disappear this year, according
to a forecast by University of Michigan economists Joan Crary, George
Fulton and Saul Hymans. The state's unemployment could hit 8.2 percent,
a level not seen since 1992.
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Here's why I voted for John McCain in the Michigan Presidential Primary

A few years ago I would not have been caught dead voting for John McCain in any election.  I had always viewed him as a mushy Republican who was soft on the issues that really counted.

But, in today's Michigan Presidential Primary I voted for him.  I need to add the caveat that in this election cycle I don't feel any real passion for any of the candidates. 

During the past several months I made a real effort to get to know all the candidates, both Republican and Democrat.

Here's why I settled on McCain:

  • I learned that he's pro-life.  For some reason, I had always thought he was pro-choice.  How did I miss that?  Apparently, that has been his consistent position.  I had never cared either way about the life issue until I heard my daughter's heartbeat before she was born almost 26 years ago.
  • His belief in God and in Jesus Christ.  That's important to me.  It shows the foundation for his values.  I wasn't sure about where he stood on these issues until I saw video clips on where he talked very clearly about his spiritual underpinnings.  His testimony is just as strong as Mike Huckabee's.
  • His relish in listening to an engaging average people about their concerns and about solutions.  I read a New York Times column from last week by David Brooks where he described how McCain used townhalls to listen and to compare notes with voters.  Now, let me point out, when he came to East Lansing, there were no questions and his remarks seemed very canned and filled with cliches.
  • His experience and his status as a Washington, D.C. insider is a plus in my book.  Romney and Huckabee talk about how they will lead Michigan back to the economic promised land.  But . . . they can't do it by themselves.  They will need the U.S. Congress.  That means they will have to get the votes.  That means they need relationships and trust with others in the Congress.  Do they have it?  Not hardly.  I've not seen any evidence that they know how to or even want to get it.
  • His lack of fear in rocking the boat.  He has shown great independence from the establishment on a variety of issues.  That's a good thing.  Can he use that for good?  I hope so.
During this election cycle for president I'm bothered by how splintered voters are.  Does that indicate a paucity of real leadership in this country?  Nobody seems to be able to paint a vision and get people to buy into it.

How about Barack Obama?  I could go for the right Democrat.  But, it's not him.  He's right about everybody working together.  But, he comes across shallow.  He can play only one note.  It will take somebody who can play all the keys.

I think that's McCain.

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John McCain Townhall at Michigan State lacked passion of an Obama rally

With less than two days to go before I vote in the Michigan Presidential Primary, I'm not farther along in my decision-making process after attending a John McCain Townhall. 

Superwife and I both went to the campaign rally at the Kellogg Center on the Michigan State University that was held a couple of hours ago.  The Big Ten Room was crowded with representatives of a variety of demographic groups which were mainly white.  2190364663_527c468e64_m But there were the young, the middle-aged and seniors.

Sen. McCain gave the same remarks that he's reported as giving at every other Michigan campaign stop. He would bring high tech jobs to our state and again make it a leader in manufacturing, but this time in high tech stuff.  Community colleges would play a major role, he said.  It came off as "blah,blah,blah."

The same remarks could have been given by any of the candidates, Republican or Democrat.  Our governor, a Democrat, has said the same thing many times.  Former State Sen.Dick Posthumus several years ago authored an in-depth report on the same topic where he proposed creating gold collar jobs.

What will I do on Tuesday?

I've flirted with just about each Republican candidate and still nobody seems to grab me.

Maybe, I will take a Democrat ballot and vote uncommitted.  Just kidding. Maybe. 

Continue reading "John McCain Townhall at Michigan State lacked passion of an Obama rally" »

Heading out to see John McCain at Michigan State University

I'm heading out to MSU in East Lansing to see if Republican presidential candidate somehow lost the Straight Talk Express that he says he's been riding on.

In his townhall meeting over the past couple of days, he has been talking about how he would bring Michigan out of the muck and mire of a bad economy in this state.  He has shared that, if president, he would restore our state to its former luster and levels of employment with good paying jobs.

Now does that come under the category of "I've got to hear this" or should it be a page in Harry Frankfurt's book "On Bullshit?" 

With all this talk about presidential candidates, could we be ignoring the people with the real power to accomplish change, the U.S. Congress?

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I'm on an almost archeological family dig--aka cleaning out junk

It's time to start pitching stuff I've accumulated over several decades, particularly from a cleanout of my mom's house when she died in 1996 in a small town north of here.

We knew she saved just about everything, but we didn't appreciate the extent of her effort. There were stacks of paper stuff that we just boxed up took home and pretty much ignored. This included treasures from the 20's, 30's, 40's and up to the present day.

In this post which I would like to update on a regular basis, I would like to list some of the items which have some historical interest in that it provides interesting facts and tidbits about that specific era. Here goes starting with my first contributions to this list:

  1. A receipt from Leix Bros.Dairy on 33 Tuscola Rd. in Bay City.  Dated, July 1, 1943, it was for $13.91 and paid for 27 gallons of milk.  The sales tax was 41 cents.  My mom came from a family of 12 who were left parentless at an early age.
  2. The financial report for Immanuel Lutheran Church in Bay City from 1942.  It listed over many small print pages what each member gave.  My mom who was single at the time gave $11.40 for the year. 
  3. The printed program for The Senior Walther League Variety Show on March 7, 1943 where two of my aunts, Rillyadele and Aileen Moll, and an uncle, Charles Moll,were listed as performers.
  4. A faded copy of an Extra edition of the Bay City Times from Sep. 1, 1960 after a 70 MPH gale slammed the city,leaving heavy damage.  The front page shows a picture of the Michigan State Police Radio tower on Euclid Avenue on its side after being blown over.
  5. A copy of a 1916 play called The Soap Club by E.J. Freund and published by the Antigo Publishing Co. in Antigo, WI.  The faded cover says the company provides dramatic plays for young peoples' societies. 
  6. A program for the dedication service of a new Mt. Olive Lutheran Church on Smith and Sidney Streets in Bay City on Dec. 12, 1954.  James L. Vogt was the pastor.  I went to elementary school there for six years.  
  7. An Easter Sunday, April 17, 1960 edition of the Bay City Times with a big photo of Pastor Martin A. Bertermann of Imannuel Lutheran Church proclaiming the ressurection of Jesus.  He stands in front of the very visual mosaic of Jesus at the church.  MORE TO COME

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On New Hampshire's primary election day, sorting today's choices here in Michigan

It's almost 8:30 a.m. here in central Michigan and it's dark outside while the rain comes down on a day of record-breaking temperatures.  Instead of being distracted by CNN and its news about the New Hampshire primary, I want to take a few minutes to sort out online my choices and actions for the day.

Here's a summary:

  • My morning devotion--most mornings I read the devotion from Our Daily Bread from Radio Bible Class.  As a believer in Jesus Christ, I believe that the Bible is his message to me and others.  Each devotion is based on a verse and tries to tie it to life today.

Today's verses are from 1 Samuel 30:1-6 where King David and his people had been attacked and about to be beaten by the Amalekites.  His wife and kids were taken captive.  He was distressed and discouraged.  The devotion talks about how to be strengthened, encouraged and refreshed in Jesus.

  • My read of news media, especially about the New Hamshire primary and the economy--New York Times reporter/columnist David Brooks contrasts the similarities and differences of Barack Obama and John McCain.  The partisan side of me shudders at Obama. 

Continue reading "On New Hampshire's primary election day, sorting today's choices here in Michigan" »

I'm still undecided after last night's Republican Presidential debate on ABC

I enjoyed watching the Republican presidential debate last night.  But, I find my preferences keep changing every few days from one candidate to the other.

At the beginning of the year, I felt an affinity towards Rudy Giuliani.  I liked his take charge, kick butt style.  He'd whip the U.S. Congress into shape, I thought.  Then my ardor for his cooled with his reaction to the prosecution of his former police commissioner in New York City and his seeming arrogance about just about everything.

My next presidential flirtation was with Fred Thompson. I did watch him on Law & Order and I do remember him from the Senate.  Maybe, it was his voice and his manner that drew me.  This guy seemed to ooze with command presence.  I'm sure you notice when he walks into a room.

Then there were the charges and his response about representing a pro-choice client. That was followed by charges that he used his connections to get his son some lobbying business in his home state.

A church buddy then urged me to take a close look at Ron Paul.  The Texas congressman brought back instant and pleasant memories of Barry Goldwater in 1964.  I firmly believe that government, at any level, does very few things well.  We can all point to examples of that. 

But, then, the owner of the Bunny Ranch, a brothel in Las Vegas, went on television throwing his personal and financial support to Paul and the candidate welcomed the support.  Umm...Brothel Owners For Paul doesn't have a good ring.  Then I heard his oration on isolationism for this country.  That's not rooted in any kind of reality.

I know that the time is coming to make a choice.

I share my leanings on my political blog, Politics Through Michigan Eyes.

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Did you celebrate Epiphany today?

Yup, superwife and I celebrated Epiphany today and we will continue when friends come for supper tonight.  How about you?

It started in church this morning at the early service where the pastor's sermon centered on Matthew 2:1-12 where the story is told of the wise men who traveled to visit the baby Jesus.  He retold the events and tried to tie them into our contemporary life.

Without a cup of black coffee at my side in the pew, my attention wandered.  The lights were low and I caught myself contemplating the pancakes we are going to have for lunch today.

But I do get the point, I think.  God's here and he's worth searching for.  He can be the difference-maker in this life and definitely in the next.  Where do you find him?  In church?  In the people at church? 

My wife is a God-reflector for me everyday.  When I'm not picking up on his presence, I just have to look at her.

Tonight, we'll have supper with our friends and then go over chapter 16 in Rick Warren's Purpose Driven Life.  It talks about the command to love each other, especially fellow believers. 

Do voters really want to get rid of negative campaigning in politics?

Now tell me, do you really want political candidates to get rid of negative campaigning?  Think about it.

Maybe all the college students do who participated in yesterday's Iowa Caucuses and who voted for Barack Obama who campaigned on the promise to change the way we do politics in the country.  He seems to be saying that we need to be operating from a position of respect for each other, rather than the present slash and burn approach to political opponents.

As winner of the Iowa Caucuses will, Obama be able to get Washington politicians to turn in their old habits of ripping their opponent a new one during every election campaign?  Will he be able to set the tone and lead the way for Republicans and Democrats to work together and govern as they should be doing?

I think that all depends on the average person, you and me.

We like negative campaigning.  Otherwise, they wouldn't do it.  As a Republican, it's fun to hear the crap about the other side.  There's Obama doing dope.  There's Edwards paying hundreds of bucks for a haircut.  Romney knows how to trash talk pretty good. 

Until the average person demands change and tells Washington to stop acting like locker room bullies, it will continue.  All Obama's talk will be for nothing.

Too bad he's not in the Michigan Primary on Jan. 15.  However, it will be interesting to hear the Republicans talk about it.  You think they'll clean-up their ways?

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Will Michigan see Mike Huckabee as the Harry Truman of the Republican Party?

Okay, I'll admit it that I'm intrigued by this whole Mike Huckabee thing. Banner_mikehuckabee_3

I'm still undecided in the upcoming Michigan Presidential Primary on Jan. 15.  But, the guy from Arkansas has my attention.

In my political blog--Politics Through Michigan Eyes-- I wrote this morning about columnist Peggy Noonan's assessment of how Huckabee has grabbed the attention of the average person who's looking for somebody who they can identify with.  They are looking for a president who can also be their neighbor.

Huckabee's main block of supporters seems to be the Christian Right and they are looking for a political messiah who can change the culture.  They embraced George W. Bush twice and the culture isn't any different. 

Some might say it's worse. Somehow, the Christian Right feels that laws can change a person's heart.  Get the right guy to be president and everything will be okay. 

If you're a Christian, you should know that battle has already been fought and it can be read about in two parts, the Old Testament and the New Testament. The law changed nobody's heart in the Old Testament.  Somehow, the more you tried the more they missed the mark. 

Maybe, they could take the right actions on the outside, but their heart was still the same.  The change came in the New Testament.  With the coming of one person, changed hearts became a reality. It's been that way ever since.

I feel that the White House needs a person of character.  But, it also needs someone who knows how to use the levers of government and how to build a national consensus.  I'm not convinced it's Mike Huckabee. He's definitely no Harry Truman.    

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