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30 posts from January 2009

My Saturday a.m. online reading

Here's my online reading for this morning:

  • Michigan hard times increase liquor sales:  The Detroit Free Press reports that while beer is still the most popular drink, it has been losing sales to whiskey, vodka and wine and Michiganders are drinking more at home.  Check the volume drank and the amount of money involved.  Question:  How does that compare to amounts given to state churches?
  • Feds would give money for gas-guzzling SUVs:  The Detroit Free Press reports about U.S. Senate proposal where the federal government would purchase gas guzzling SUVs with the proviso that the money would be used to purchase  a fuel efficient car.  Question:  I wonder how many would buy foreign versus domestic?
  • Single-mom had eight babies through invitro fertilization:  The Detroit Free Press story talks about the controversy surrounding the implanting of eight embryos in a woman who already had six kids and was unmarried.  Question:  Should there be a law?  What are the limits?

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My online reading for Friday a.m.

Here's my online reading for this morning:

  • Honda Motor Co. reduces profit target--Detroit Free Press says Honda Motor Co. quarterly profit feel 90 percent leading it to cutting its annual profit target by half.  Question: Don't we have a number of Honda car plants in this country?
  • More Detroit corruption allegations--Detroit Free Press reports that a Grosse Pointe contractor was denied business with the Detroit Building Authority for not hiring the father of former Detroit Mayor Kilpatrick as a consultant.  Question: Doesn't the city of Detroit have an ethics board of examine those kinds of situations?
  • Ford's condition may signal wild ride--Detroit Free Press columnist Tom Walsh points to Ford being the healthiest of the automakers and then talks about how cash is being sucked out of Ford.  If that's health, then watch out Michigan.  Question:  Are we ready for more gloom?
  • Tailpipe emission rules change could destroy Detroit--Mackinac Center's Russ Harding discusses in a column the effects of President Obama's decision to allow each state to set tailpipe emission standards versus having a national standard.  He argues that such changes will raise car costs per vehicle from $3,000 to $10,000.
  • Saul Anuzis excites college crowd--Tech Republican writes post about how Saul Anuzis has brought out young supporters in his effort to win the chairmanship of the Republican National Committee.  In a video interview, one points to his understanding and use of technology.
  • Lee Lefever of Commoncraft explains his business--Lee Lefever of Commoncraft writes about how he has refocused his business to produce explanatory educational videos.  He's set the bar at using web video to explain complex topics.  He's been an innovator in the social media field.
  • Video: Borrowing Money in Plain English--Lee Lefever shares his new educational video explaining the basics of borrowing money.  Every mortgage broker in the country should buy a license to this video and show it to clients.  Great job, Lee.

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My Thursday a.m. online reading:

Here's my Thursday a.m. online reading:

  • Bribe attempt by Detroit City Council official--Detroit News story about how strip club official alleges that City Councilwoman Monica Conyers aide solicted $25,000 bribe for a license transfer.  The city of Detroit's reputation continues to worsen.
  • Detroit Mayor Kenneth Cockrel charged with delay--Detroit News story about Detroit Mayor Cockrel and his opponents in upcoming mayoral election who charge that he's delaying important city budget decisions until the Feb. 24 special election.  His budget cut recommendations, according to the story will be made tomorrow morning.
  • Dead man found encased in ice in Detroit warehouse--Detroit News story about dead man found in warehouse where homeless hangout.  Alarming part of story says 19,000 are homeless in that city and shelters are full.
  • Ford reports $5.9 billion fourth-quarter loss--Detroit Free Press says that even with the loss Ford Motor company will not request government aid.  
  • Detroit bringing new conventions to city--Detroit Free Press story tells about how 20 new conventions will bring $13.5 million in new business to the city.  Story points to all the new hotel rooms, casinos and new sports stadiums.
  • Michigan's becoming a solid blue state--Blogging for Michigan writes this morning that, according to a Gallup Poll, our state has become solidly Democratic, along with much of the rest of the country.  Does everybody agree about the long-term implications of the stats?

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Here's the answer when life really, really sucks

Life can really suck.  What do you do when you feel totally hopeless because of a death, an illness, loss of a job or any other life circumstance?  All the hope seems to be sucked out of wherever you are and whatever you do and then what do you do?

Getting ready to walk out our front door this morning, I overheard the news about a couple in California who lost their jobs and saw no hope.  They killed their kids and themselves as a response to how desperate they felt.  I shook my head and then went out the front door to meet a group of four other guys who I have breakfast with every Wednesday.

One is a retired pastor, one is a retired state worker, one is a Vietnam vet who got shot up on the Mekong River in that country, one is a mobile phone store manager and then there's me.

We started reading and discussing the book of Psalms in the Bible where we take one a week and talk about it.   We are now on Psalm 108 out of 150. 

Continue reading "Here's the answer when life really, really sucks" »

My son, Justin Thorp, surprises me with the news

Super-wife was on her laptop and I just had to shout over to her the news about our son, Justin, who lives in Washington, D.C.  I knew she would be surprised.

He wore a dress shirt and neck tie to work.  Why is this a big deal?

Here's some context: 3233377985_3126029100_m He graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology two years ago with an information technology degree and immediately went to work in the District of Columbia.  Young computer geeks in that venue wore t-shirts and hoodies to work.  Sometimes, he would wear a sports coat over his t-shirt.

Keep in mind these are young folks who have plenty of responsibility and who make a good living.  Nevertheless, that's the dress standard.

That's why we found it smile-worthy when we received news that he was lowering the dress code at his office with Clearspring, the widget-makers.  Check out this picture with the tie.  He looks like he could usher at church.  Come to think of it, most of them don't wear ties.

You look great man!

My Wednesday a.m. online reading

Here's my online reading this morning:

  • Names surface in Detroit sludge contract:  The Detroit Free Press reports names of those being investigated in the city's awarding of a more than $1 billion sludge contract to a Houston company.  Those named in the story include former Mayor Kilpatrick and his father, as well as Monica Conyers, City Council President.  The story says little evidence has been presented of the who, what, when, where, how and why of bribery taking place.
  • Detroit City Council wants sludge contract voided:  The Detroit City Council voted 7-1 asking the mayor to void the scandal-ridden contract.  The Detroit Free Press story mentions that contract provisions allow that when the law has been broken in the exercise of the contract.
  • Utility shutoffs in Michigan being examined:  After the death of an elderly Bay City man because of a utility shutoff, the Detroit Free Press says that the state's 41 municipally-owned utilities which are unregulated by the state are reexamining their shutoff policies including devices or limiters which shutoff power after a specified limit is reached.
  • Michigan's weather is butt-ugly . . .again:  The Detroit News reports about the latest snow storm to move through the metro area and the state.  Commuters watched spin outs and collisions happening around them.

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Seven things: I got memed

I've been tagged twice in a meme where you share seven things about yourself.  My son Justin tagged me and so did my friend Dave Porter.  Here goes:

1.  I HATE TO SING--When I was in the eighth grade my teacher made me sing a solo in front of the class. It was like being stripped naked in public.  I was totally embarrassed and since then I've sung mainly in my heart without the aid of voice.  I almost sang to my wife at our wedding in front of God, family, friends and whoever else, but I lost my nerve.  My wife loves to sing.  I love listening to her sing.

2.  MY FIRST NAME WAS ALMOST DURWARD--My parents were going to name me after my Uncle Durward, my father's brother.  My middle name was to be Dale with my initials then becoming D.D.T., like the infamous pesticide.  But . . .because I was born a few seconds after midnight on my Uncle Wes' birthday, I was named after him.  I was saved.

--When President Jimmy Carter opened Cuba for American travel, a friend and I were among the first group of Americans to go there legally.  We spent more than a week traveling through the country, including the Bay of Pigs where the Americans started an ill-fated invasion against Castro.  Yes, we saw the crocodiles.

--Justin and I did it on a whim and because we really wanted to be part of the show.  We shot an audition tape and filled out a questionnaire where we answered tons of questions.  We were ready to do it, but they weren't ready to pick us.  I think we didn't have enough panache.

--I've spent more time than I like to think of going in and out of many of Michigan's prisons . . . as a volunteer.  I've been in institutions from the west end of the Upper Peninsula to the southern part of the state.  During this time I learned a lot about myself, life and about God.

--When I worked in the Michigan House and when Michigan State University humbled the University of Michigan at football, I worked for a legislator who had two degrees from MSU.  To celebrate the win and its supremacy at football, he put in a resolution to change the nickname from the Wolverine State to the Cow State.  U of M fans are known as Wolverines and  MSU is known as Moo-U because of its agriculture school.  It passed the House.

7.  I LOVE SITTING AROUND THE DINNER TABLE--I count it pure joy to sit around the dinner table with friends and family.  It's a great place for conversation.  Some of our best family times have been a two-and-a-half to three hour dinner table conversation about anything, including politics and religion and school and life and anything else.  Guests usually come prepared for a long sit.

Now, it's my responsibility to tag seven more bloggers.  My picks are:

  1. Lauren Hager of "Lauren Hager listens and shares"
  2. Jack Lumanog of "Jack's World"
  3. Roy Olsen of "The Road Less Travelled"
  4. Dave Maier of "Fighting Forward"
  5. Jon Tilly of "Un Till"
  6. Gladys Thorp of "Mrs. Thorp's Third Grade Blog"
  7. Nate Klan of "Nate"

How many Chevy's can be driven for 360,000 miles?

The son-in-law and my favorite daughter visited a week ago to celebrate my wife's birthday along with his the day before.  To stock up for our two celebrations, we made a Meijer's run where we bought some Michigan wine. 

He used that experience to discuss in his blog the pros and cons of buying domestically produced Adam's blog products.  In his post, he talks about paying a higher price for lesser quality and asks how the dilemma should be approached.

Then he makes the bombshell point that touches  on the fate of our state and much of the rest of this country.

His dad still drives back and forth to work with a Honda Accord that has 360,000 miles?  Wow!  And I'm sure he didn't have to make many if any repairs.  Adam, my son-in-law owns a Toyota with 230,000 miles and no major repairs.

So how do you approach the issue of buying a new car?  Buy American and know you'll pay more and knowing that you'll be on a first-name basis with your mechanic or buy foreign with the knowledge that you might forget where your dealership is located because of lack of need?

I invite you to join the conversation on his blog.

Can Lauren Hager's blog become a gathering spot for his part of Michigan?

My friend Lauren Hager who lives in the Port Huron (MI) area has started his own blog, "Lauren Hager  listens and shares."  He's a retired special education teacher, former city council member, former state representative, husband, involved father and grandfather, active church member, community activist and good friend.3230682953_dd23de9c58

And he's 67 years-old and wants to run for the Michigan Senate in his area.  He feels that he can contribute on the issues of the day that affect his part of the state which is right next to Canada and which includes everything from farms to auto supply plants.

To help bring his area together and to get them talking with each other, he's started his blog.  Will people in his area grab onto this new medium?  I hope so.  I can see Lauren teaching everybody from young people to seniors how to add their voice to the conversation in Michigan through a blog. 

Check out his blog.  I'm enthusiastic about its prospects.

This computer worm-"downadup"-is straight out of "24" and Jack Bauer

This seems to be straight from the hit television show "24" and its main character Jack Bauer.

There's a computer virus spreading around the PC world where the attacker can control your computer to perform just about any heinous virtual act that it directs, according to USA Today.

In less than three weeks, the virus has spread to more than 1 million PCs around the world.

What about Mac computers?

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My Tuesday a.m. online reading:

Here's my a.m. reading of online newspapers:

  • Macomb County Comission chair Paul Gieleghem profile:  Detroit Free Press profiles Gieleghem who holds one of the most important positions in the state.  Macomb County is a bastion for automotive manufacturing and is feeling the pain of our economic meltdown.  My question:  Will Freep continue to cover him, the county commission and the important things they are trying to accomplish?
  • 93-year-old Bay City man freezes to death:  Marvin Shur was found frozen to death, according to the Detroit Free Press,  in his Bay City home after the local utility company restricted his electricity use because of unpaid bills.  The medical examiner said he died a slow, painful death.  How many others are suffering in this cold winter because of unpaid power bills?
  • Who should regulate tailpipe emissions-states or feds:  Detroit Free Press editorial writer Barb Arrigo blogs about the difficulty of being consistent on the editorial page about state rights versus federal in promulgating laws of various sorts like the tailpipe issue.  It's worth a read.
  • One federal standard for tailpipe emissions:  Detroit Free Press editorializes for one federal standard for tailpipe emissions and auto mileage standards rather than each state doing by themselves leaving a variety of rules for the automakers to meet.  This issue affects automakers directly and thus Michigan.
  • Mom arrested for punching out disabled son:  Muskegon Chronicle reports about mom who punched her 11-year-old disabled son in the head in a doctor's office and then dragging him across the room.  The mom has yet to be arraigned.  Makes me wonder about the Michigan Office of Childrens Ombudsman and whether they're meeting their role to assure state safety net for at-risk kids is working.
  • Township considers county for human resources:  Pittsfield Township is considering Washtenaw County to perform its human resources functions rather than have a full-time staffer.  According to the Ann Arbor News story, the township had a paid a person $98,000 to fill that role and now has budgeted $25,000 for the same function.

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Michigan news article links on Monday a.m.

From my online reading this a.m. --

  • MI survey of health care coverage:  Detroit Free Presss story of report from Center for Healthcare Research & Transformation say state companies offering healthcare insurance falls below national average.  In 2006, 53.4 percent of workers had health insurance through employers, compared to 55.8 percent nationwide.  Question:  Given the deep recession in our state, is that number less or more than expected?
  • GM to announce production cuts today:  With a 22.7 percent drop in sales last year, GM, according to the Detroit Free Press will announce production cuts today. What Michigan plants will be affected?  How many jobs?  Will laid off workers get full pay through the Job Bank program?
  • 50,000 Detroit kids attend metro-area charter schools:  In a Detroit Free Press story about a bill in the state legislature to allow Wayne Community College to open charter schools inside the city, there's mention that an estimated 50,000 Detroit kids who attend charter schools in the metropolitan area.  Do the math on the amount of money the Detroit Public Schools are losing?  It has to be at least $7,000 per student if not more.  Anybody know the amount?
  • Pushing to stop clean coal in Michigan:  State Attorney General Mike Cox in a Detroit Free Press column says there's pressure to ban new construction of clean coal power plants in our state.  Right now, he says, more than 60 percent of Michigan's power is generated by coal.  Blocking the new plants would cause businesses to pay even more for power.  Who's opposing clean coal power plants?  
  • Home values drop, while property taxes increase:  Bay City (MI) story tells how city assessor is preparing for a flood of property owner protests where property values drop with taxable value increasing.  It's a quirk, they say, from a 1994 state law.  What's the experience with other cities around the state, like Lansing?

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Michigan's gloomy attitude is affecting its high school students and their view of the future

Michigan is not a fun place to be right now.

Another example was pointed out by the Detroit News columnist Nolan Finley who writes that more than half of the high school students interviewed in the "Your Child" survey have a bleak view of life after graduation.

Finley says they described their vision of the future as being hard, stressful and scary.

How do we instill more optimism in our kids when we don't have it ourselves?  Can government do it?  Can the schools do it? 

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My thoughts about the murder of my cousin's daughter, Anna Marie List

My wife and I went to the funeral home Friday to visit with my cousin, Rudy List and his wife Hodie whose daughter Anna was murdered in an Ypsilanti (MI) park just east of Ann Arbor. 

Their 17-year-old daughter was one of these standout kids who was academically-gifted, but more  importantly had a heart for helping people.Annalist  

The suspect in her murder has been identified by the news media as a boyfriend and somebody who she had helped through the challenges of high school. 

During the more than a week since her beating and then death in the hospital, I've tried to make sense of what happened.  And, all I can say, it doesn't make sense and there's no way to explain why Anna's life was taken early and all the hurt and the void that will be left with her family and friends.

What else can you say?  There is hope, but as shown in the experience of my cousin's family, there can be a lot of hurt and loss.

My cousin's daughter, Anna List, dies from attack

My cousin's daughter, Anna List, who received prayer support and best wishes from people around the country died as a result of injuries from a brutal beating in a Ypsilanti (MI) park.Annalist

Anna, 17, leaves siblings and a mom and dad, as well as an extended family who are grieving her loss.

I want to let everybody know how much I appreciated the generous reaction from readers of this blog who emailed notice of their concern, prayer support and their best wishes.


Father Jack Lumanog posts in his blog about delivering food to Lansing (MI) hungry

Father Jack Lumanog, the pastor of Christ the King Anglican Church in the Lansing area and where we've been attending, describes in his blog today what it feels like when 30 churches band together to feed area hungry.

This young priest describes how his small church along with others raised more than $100,000 to help buy food for hungry families in our economically challenged area.  His response to the effort conveys the excitement of people sharing a common purpose to serve neighbors in need.

It's a good read about a neat effort by a group of churches trying to fill a need.  I invite you to leave comments on his blog post.   Here's a picture from the day:

Foodbank campaign

My cousin's daughter who was almost beaten to death is in a coma

Through his tears of worry and concern, my cousin whose daughter was almost beaten to death in an Ypsilanti (MI) said, "Thank-you, thank-you," to the hundreds who are praying for her.Annalist

She is in a drug-induced coma after undergoing extensive surgery and the extent of the damages won't become apparent until she becomes conscious.

The struggle continues and I will do my best to share information as I get it.

Thank-you again for all the prayers and wishes.

History shows that economic stimulus efforts don't work

We are days away from the swearing-in on Barak Obama as president and from this country's move towards spending hundreds of millions of dollars on an economic stimulus package.  The federal government will take the money from the taxpayers and give it back to them in the form of new programs.

Does this kind of effort help jump start the economy or is it just taking money out of the pocket of the taxpayer and putting it in the pocket of the federal government without any practical effect?

This video from the CATO Institute says history clearly shows such efforts don't work.  What do you think?  Why do this if history says such efforts are a ruse?  Is it just political eyewash to give voters the false impression that something's being done?

Yes, Michigan drivers can drive like dummies on snowy, icy days

Driving to meet a friend at the Biggby's coffeeshop on Waverly Road, I was reminded in boldface reality about the truth of what Detroit Free Press reporter Matt Helms wrote about our state's drivers on snowy and icy roads.

Many of them can drive like real dummies.  They cause accidents.  They tailgate.  They drive fast and can be real threats to the safety of anybody on the road.

It would be nice if the Michigan Legislature could pass some laws to prohibit such practices, but laws have their limits.

I think it's a brainpower thing.

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PRAYER REQUEST: My cousin's daughter was badly beaten in Ypsi park

I got an email this morning that my cousin's daughter was almost beaten to death yesterday in an Ypsilanti Annalist (MI) park by her boyfriend.  She has undergone brain surgery and her condition is reported as grave.  Her family is struggling with grief and uncertainty.  I invite your prayers for all of them.  The Detroit Fox television station covered her story.