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56 posts from May 2009

Watching my son over "livestream" from New York University

Super-son is attending barcamp4 at New York University in New York City this weekend.  While attending the last session, I saw him on "livestream" and was able to talk with him over "I-M."  As you can see, the picture was very clear.  Really neat technology with lots of applications.  He's seated at the table on the far left of this screenshot.


We were tourists in our own town--Lansing (MI) yesterday

We finally gave in to the invitation to BE A TOURIST IN YOUR OWN TOWN yesterday an annual event for the past few years where local businesses, Michigan State University and all types of other attractions in the Greater Lansing (MI) Area open their doors to whomever is interested.

To participate, we had to purchase a passport booklet listing all the attractions in the area where there were special events and tours.  The 16-page list is worth purchasing a few days in advance because of the large number of choices.  We picked four stops:  (1) The MSU Dairy Store where we purchased an ice cream cone with ice cream made on the campus and for this occasion; (2) the Kresge Art Museum on campus; (3)  WKAR radio and television studios on campus and the Parmount Coffee Company.  (See Flip videos below)

I particularly enjoyed the visits to Paramount and WKAR.

Paramount Coffee has been a fixture in Lansing life during the almost forty years I've lived hear.  We have bought plenty and we are continually led to the company's display at Sam's Club.  Our tour leader was very open, gracious and welcoming of questions.  They have a national presence as a coffee roaster.  They have a static website and a blog.

Observing Pentecost Sunday here in mid-Michigan

Today's Pentecost, an important day in the church year. And, here in mid-Michigan, it's more important than ever.

It's remembering the day that the Holy Spirit showed himself on earth and story that's recounted in the Bible's book of Acts.

Why is this important now?

We are in dire need of leadership that comes from God and power that comes from Him.

That's what Pentecost is all about. Pastor Mark Batterson of National Community Church in Washington, D.C. posts about it.

Anybody with thoughts about Pentecost and what the coming of the Holy Spirit means to us during these times of challenge?

I'm off to the shower to get ready for church.

Remembering GM during its years of big-time success

It's the day before General Motors files for bankruptcy and forever skewers life as we know it here in Michigan.

Looking out my living room window on this Sunday morning, the sun's out and the temperature is cool as GM gets ready to put a forever stamp on the change that's about to occur.

Growing up in Bay City about a hundred miles north of here GM was always a factor in everybody's life. There was a GM plant near the Saginaw River and there were many in nearby Saginaw and Flint.

I always knew that if I didn't make it in college, I could come back and work in the plants.

The GM memories are many. The Detroit Free Press captures many in this piece by Bill McGraw where he touches on how the company changed life here and throughout America.

It's not exactly in-depth. It's an easy read. However, it's just enough on the day before the once mighty General Motors meets a cruel fate.

GM bankruptcy: It could start world-wide depression, says Huffington Post three months ago

How will a GM bankruptcy affect the economy? This is what Stan Parker said in the Huffington Post three months ago.

Note his detailed comments about how auto parts suppliers would be affected and how that could presage a world-wide recession.

He asks how much more money can taxpayers afford to put into the troubled car companies. What happens if Ford goes to the feds for help.

Will that bring down the auto industry in other parts of the world?

Grand Rapids (MI) Press political writer and editorial page editor have informative podcast

Staying up with political happenings in Michigan can be difficult given the paucity of newspaper coverage.  I just listened to the Grand Rapids Press podcast where its political writer and its editorial page editor discuss relevant issues for the week.  These include a statewide smoking ban, the General Motors bankruptcy and candidates for governor.  It's worth a listen.

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How will Chrysler bankruptcy affect its retirees and its suppliers?

I just read this morning's story about Chrysler's attempt to get its bankruptcy judge to approve its sale to Fiat. It seems like there are many unresolved questions:

  • How will its retirees be affected? Will their pensions and healthcare be preserved? What's the process for resolving these issues?
  • How will consumers react to the Chrysler's product line if it emerges from bankruptcy?
  • Will consumers in this country accept Fiat's line of smaller vehicles?
  • How is its bankruptcy affecting its suppliers? How much money are they owed?

Michigan municipal employee pensions, too low or too high?

What about pensions for city employees in Michigan? You never hear any complaints about them being too high or two low or about pensions funds having a shortfall.

I think of this because of a LA Times story about former Los Angeles Police Chief and present city council member getting a $22,000 a month pension from his cop job and $178,789 in salary for being on the council.

Are there any retired Michigan city employees receiving six-figure pensions?

Does Mark Twain's quote still hold water for not having term-limited, full-time legislature?

Michigan's legislature is term-limited and has reached a point where senior members are the ones who have served one term. The consequences for our troubled state seem to be a steady movement towards it being ungovernable.

The quote has been taken out of the "quote closet" more than once, but this time its fromDavid J. Morris, CEO of Dillanos Coffee who shared it on his Twitter feed.
The quote is at the bottom of this screen capture from my Tweetdeck.
Disclosure: I am a retired employee of a state legislature and I've observed its operations from a variety positions, including a stint as a newspaper reporter at the state capitol.
Right now, I'm looking at it as just a taxpayer trying to live life.

Isn't auto industry future still in the hands of consumers?

It's hard to live in Michigan and not follow the daily tribulations of the auto industry. But, aren't we forgetting that the future of car-making will still be determined by consumers.

What happens if new car buyers decide not to respond to GM's and Chrysler's product offerings?

Is there a magic wand in Washington, D.C. that will control the buying habits of the public?

Remember several months ago when a whole lot of folks got real nervous about GM and Chrysler going bankrupt. The white knuckle types saw the end times for Michigan if that happened.

Now it's happening.

But ultimately its up to the car buyer. Right?

Maybe the free market should have been allowed to work.

It would have been a lot cheaper for the taxpayer.

Is Time magazine right about Michigan job growth during the next decade?

It's hard to take the illustration from Time magazine's May 25 edition off my desk showing job growth in the state for the next decade.

Guess how much job growth they predict for Michigan during that period. Guess. Five percent? Two? One? Actually, 0.01 percent job growth between now and 2019.

Texas is listed as having the highest with 2.02 percent.

Wow. What's the answer?

By the way, I could not find online the chart with a map of the states and the project numbers. Guess you have to buy or borrow the mag.

If Washington Community High School in Indy can do it, why not others?

I just read this blog post from "Love" about Washington Community High School in Indianapolis and how they just graduated a fair size class of inner-city kids who are all going to college.

Keep in mind these are kids who were regarded as being at-risk. I invite you to read the post and the linked to story.

What makes the difference in why all are going to college here when the percentage is so much lower in other schools? Can their success be duplicated?

By the way, the post was written by my son-in-law Adam Jones. Good post and a good story.

Ascension Day is a real reason to have a party

If there was ever a reason to celebrate, it's today and I was reminded of that by my blogging buddy Pastor David Maier who wrote a post about Ascension Day.

Do you celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus? Easter? Ascension is 40 days after that when he was physically taken from this earth back to heaven.

Why is it important to everybody during these times of heavy-duty uncertainty, historic change and suffering for so many?

When you're at happy hour today, at the coffee shop or just trying to figure out how you're going to make it through another day, it's worth thinking about.

Leave a comment on Pastor Maier's blog post and let him know you're interested in his homily he will give at his church tonight about why today is important. Ask him to share either the written text, the audio or both.

For more about Ascension Day, you can also read this post from Pastor Paul McCain in his blog Cyberbrethren.

Do new stats about the Kindle raise questions about future of dead tree books?

If you buy books or know somebody who does, then look at these stats about how Amazon's Kindle is affecting print book sales: 10 percent of the total North American books sold in the first quarter were for the device.

Look at the projections from eMarketer for the rest of this year and next.

Are shopping malls thinking about what they'll do with the empty space when Barnes & Noble closes or scales down because it's selling e-books?

Yeah, I bought a Kindle 2 about a month ago and I love it.