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27 posts from September 2009

You vote: Should this Michigan mom be prosecuted for running an illegal daycare?

Read this story from today's Detroit News about this Michigan mom who allowed less than a handful of other moms to drop of their kids at her house to wait to be picked up by the school bus. 

The state's Department of Human Services has told her to stop allowing this or she will face fines and possible jail.  The attribute the state's childcare law as the source of their authority to do this.

Is this too much?  Is it a prime example of a law having unintended consequences? 

Am I missing something here?  This mom is being a mom.  Shouldn't that be affirmed by the state of Michigan rather than threatened?

Should the whole Michigan Legislature be fired for not being able to adopt a budget?

Sitting on my living room couch just a few miles from Michigan's State Capitol, I wonder if our state has lost its ability to govern itself. 

Why?  It is not even close to adopting a state budget, it's most basic assignment, by the deadline of a little more than 12 hours.  The legislature is nudging right up to a possible shutdown of state government with all kinds of unforeseen consequences.

It's scary that we have one of the best paid and best equipped state legislatures in the country and both political parties can only demand all or nothing.  The result is that nothing gets done and the state of Michigan suffers.

Local schools, colleges and universities, local units of government dependent on revenue sharing and all the others don't know what kind of support to expect.  Will they have to cut?  How much?  They are not close to finding out.

What can we do?  Too bad we don't have a parliamentary system where new elections for the whole group can be demanded.

We should expect more from our elected state lawmakers and we should demand it.

I'm not ready to become part of the "tea party" movement because it has a certain fringe cache.  Maybe we can call it the "latte party" movement and show our teeth and let them know that their lack of action is bullshit.

Anybody up for a "latte party?"

Baby-boomer belly report: Here's what I've lost so far using Weight Watchers Online for Men

This summer I knew I was playing "risk factor roulette" with the extra weight I was carrying.  By being overweight, I was volunteering for trouble that could land me in the ER and make me a regular in the doctor's office and neighborhood pharmacy.

That's why I joined Weight Watchers Online at the end of July and recruited super-wife to do the same to be a diet buddy. 

It's working.  This morning was weigh in and it showed that I've lost 13.8 pounds since I started.  This morning, it showed a modest weight loss for the past week of .2 pound. 

We are walking, something that's becoming more challenging as the weather changes and gets more ugly in our part of the country.  But, we continue this journey, one that will have to become a permanent part of my life.


Can you explain why you don't want the University of Michigan to win on Saturday?

I've lost my passion for the Michigan State University versus University of Michigan football game that will be played on Saturday.  But, at age 63, I will have a big smile on my face if the Spartans win in East Lansing.

For me and many others, it's the only game that counts during the fall.  The Spartans could lose every other game, but the whole season hung on what they did against the Wolverines.

The serious smack talk about the two teams got virulent when I was a teenager and young adult.  For that game, political partisanship would be set aside with fans verbally clubbing their opponents.

I remember telling my daughter that I would accept her going to the University of Michigan, but she would have to foot the whole bill herself.  She saw the smile on my face knowing that if she went there I'd have to hold my nose everytime I went on campus.

That's why I read this story in today's Free Press with nodding agreement and a smile.  Can MSU players still be motivated beyond other games to play the U of M?

On Saturday, super-wife and I will have the television on and a bottle of Great Lakes Red open and watch until the end.

Getting ready to go to my 45th high school class reunion

In a few minutes, I'll start getting ready for my 45th high school class reunion and I find it hard to collect my thoughts about the occasion.

When I graduated from high school in 1964, life was chaotic because of the assassination of President

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Kennedy and because of the Vietnam War.

In high school, I knew a lot of my fellow students but had a pretty small circle of friends, mainly those who worked with me on the high school newspaper and those who shared my political interests and activities.

I'm not quite sure what to expect, other than seeing a lot of classmates where I know the name, but I might be slow in putting it together with a face.  There's also the realization that we all are at the front end of being senior citizens.  My mother was 55 when I graduated, compared to me being 63.  Back then, I thought she was old. 

What stands out in my memory from 1964 is the draft for military service and the Vietnam War.  Given my age, my life was regulated by the local draft board, a group of local citizens who made life and death decisions for young guys in our area.  It all seemed to blatantly unfair given the perception back then that their sons always found some kind of deferment from service.

The year I graduated there was growing civil unrest over Vietnam.  The polarization had to approach or exceed what we are seiing now.  Anti-war protesters took over buildings and disrupted meetings. 

There was a general distrust of the federal government, particularly President Lyndon Johnson and the military leaders who were prosecuting the war.  People accepted they were being lied to about the war

as the protests grew. 

I remember that the magic number back then was "12" which was the number of credits you had to take in college to be considered a full-time student and stay out of the draft.

The war ended and my life continued and went in different directions from my hometown.  I'm interested to see how others have fared.  How has life treated them?  How are they handling this stage of life?  Are they happy?

For me, I'm very happy.  It has taken me awhile for my heart to fully wrap itself around the source of the happiness, but I'm getting there.  I'm learning that it's not a matter of being retired, but refired.  I feel that heat coming back to the point it had reached when I graduated.

It's more focused and more intentional, but I'm seeing it more clearly as I get older.

A sidenote; our 25-year-old son came home this weekend to attend a wedding.  My advice to him, hang on and don't let go. 

Starting my Friday in Michigan

I can see light outside our living room window here in mid-Michigan and I can taste the oatmeal with cherries on top that's coming my way.  My links:

  1. City of Grand Rapids talks bankruptcy:  As local units of government in Michigan wait to see how much revenue-sharing they'll get from the state to pay their bills, the Grand Rapids Press reports that the once venerable city of Grand Rapids is talking about bankruptcy.  At one time, the city was a beacon for financial stability.
  2. State of Michigan approaching budget chaos:  State lawmakers in Lansing face wide divisions over how the state should spend its money during the next fiscal year which starts Oct. 1, according to the Detroit News.  Big hangup seems to be more than $1 billion in cuts and new taxes to raise revenue for specific programs.
  3. Upper Peninsula looks at possible nickel mine:  The U.P. of Michigan is looking at the possibility of the opening of a new nickel mine near Marquette, according to the Detroit News.  It would mark a new era in mining for the area.  All kinds of environmental quesitons are being raised.  The project holds promise of new jobs for the area and new tax revenue.
  4. City of Flint watches filming of "Alleged":  The Flint Journal reports on how city residents have front row seats to the filming of the movie "Alleged" with Nathan West and Ashley Johnson.  It's exciting Hollywood action for a struggling city.  The filming of this movie and others in the state come with a highly controversial program where the state of Michigan reimburses filmmakers for almost half the cost of making their productions.
  5. Tough times now with eternity later:  With Michigan's economy causing a world of hurt to many, Our Daily Bread from RBC brings the reminder that we have an eternity of promise ahead.  The real and lasting hope lies there and not here.

Watch Virgnia's Creigh Deeds pees all over himself when asked about raising taxes

Creigh Deeds, the Democratic candidate for governor in Virginia, got cornered by reporters who asked him about raising taxes.  Watch his answer on this YouTube video.  I've been around politicians all my adult life and seen many wet themselves when asked about raising taxes.  How would you rate Deeds answer?  Passing grade?

Do the Democrats in Virginia feel confident about winning in November? 

Starting my Thursday in Michigan

Almost time for a hot bowl of oatmeal with strawberries on the top here in mid-Michigan as I get the day started.  My links:
  1. Local churches affected by affluence:  Dr. Joe Stowell in his "Strength for the Day" writes about how rising levels of affluence in Chinese Christian churches is diverting their attention to worldly distractions away from their real source of strength.  Has that happened to U.S. churches?
  2. One year later Detroit still suffers:  Detroit News writes that it's been exactly one year since former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick resigned during a sordid scandal.  The story says city's still suffering, but the scandal made it come to grips with a culture of cronyism and corruption.
  3. Obama will need raised taxes:  Detroit News editorial page editor Nolan Finley writes in his blog about how Jeffrey Sachs visited Detroit last week and emphasized that President Obama can't give everybody an insurance card without raising taxes on everybody including the middles class.  Sachs is a close friend and adviser to the president.
  4. Ernie Harwell's last chapter:  Booth Newspaper's Steve Kornacki writes about the former Detroit Tiger's broadcaster Ernie Harwell who has terminal cancer.  This column demonstrates the light that this one man has brought to Michigan during a very troubled time.  He has turned a defeat into a victory.

Starting my Monday in Michigan

Sun's coming up here in mid-Michigan as I get the day started by some online reading.  My links:
  1. Legacy for our kids:  Our Daily Bread's devotion for today is about the importance of teaching your kids and grandkids about your beliefs in God.  Using those teachable moments can be one of our greatest legacies, it says.  The daily devoitional is published by Radio Bible Class.
  2. Zipcar car-sharing comes to Ann Arbor: Detroit Free Press story reports about how Zipcar is being received in Ann Arbor and describe it as part of the reconfiguring of transportation modes in this country.  East Lansing may be next to get it.
  3. Detroiters must take responsibility:  Detroit Free Press reports how Bill Cosby, the actor, is taping public service announcements for Detroit Public Schools and how city residents must take responsibility for improving their own city.  
  4. Another new quarterback for Detroit Lions Detroit Free Press columnist Mitch Albom grades rookie quarterback Matt Stafford by giving him an "ok."  The quesiton:  Can Lions win one game this year?
  5. Detroit casinos show declining revenue:  The Detroit News says, the recession seems to be affecting Detroit's three casinos with declining revenue.  Good story about their status.
  6. Michigan teenagers serving life in prison:  Detroit News tells about the 346 Michigan teenagers serving life in prison which is raising all sorts of dilemma's and frustrations for the system and for policymakers.

From a Michigan church leader, Pastor David Maier: Where was God on 9/11?

Pastor David Maier, the new president of the Michigan District of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod,  has a lot of "street credibility" when it comes to having your hope challenged.  His was twisted and turned inside out when a few years ago he was diagnosed with cancer right after his teenage son was found to have brain cancer.  His world was rocked.

That makes his insights about the uncertainty eight years after 9/11 worth reading.  Our economy is on life support and there are huge divisions among our citizens on just about everything.  There seems to be few places to set a life anchor.

In his post on his blog Fighting Forward, he writes about  9.11 ... A Day of Terror ... and HOPE, and recalls that fateful day that took so many lives and he writes about the lack of hope that seems to be permeating so much of our lives.

He turns to the Bible and what happened to the Apostle Paul and what happened to him. 

So where was God on 9/11?  He was there.  He provided hope then as he does now.

Anybody not see God's hand in what has happened and what continues to happen?

Dave maier

I hope Donald Miller, Blue Like Jazz author, pushes forward with The Mentoring Project

Somehow, I got an email about The Mentoring Project started by Donald Miller, the Blue Like Jazz author and several other popular books.  The website for his mentoring efforts based in Portland, Oregon really grabbed my attention, more than I like to admit.

It involves getting churches to get their guys to sign-up for an hour or two a week to spend with a fatherless kid.  There would be training and other obvious thing, but the concept is so simple and potentially so life-changing for the kids being mentored.

I grew up fatherless.  I never knew my dad until I found him when I was in my late twenties in a state far-away and with another family.  He deserted my mom and me in 1948 without saying anything and never came back. 

No calls, letters or any kind of contact until I confronted him at his doorstep and he threatened and disowned me.

I'm sure that I was not much different than many from the first group of baby-boomers where dad and mom connected during or right after World War II and had a kid right away.  Then dad bugs out for whatever reason.

There's always been a void in my life created by the absence of my father or any father figure.  I had some uncles who were great, but they had their own families.  But, I never had a dad to affirm my personhood or manhood, my individuality or whatever you want to call it.

So, I know, firsthand, the importance of The Mentoring Project started by Miller.  But, my experience with the church in this area has been negative.  My personal experience left a scar on my heart where it was always hard to reconcile the talk about the love of Jesus with the reaction of church members towards me and my mom.  My impression was they didn't care.

Has the attitude changed?  I hope so.  Making use of men in church to help in this way can be life-changing.  Believe me the potential is huge. 

I've discovered that my dad is dead.  He was cremated.  I can't even go to his grave.  Our situation will never resolve.

I've been blessed in such a big way in being a father, but my kids are grown.  It's time to branch out.  I hope Miller is committed to this.  He could leave a legacy through this project that will carry on for generations. 

The Mentoring Project Introduction from The Mentoring Project on Vimeo.

Picking apples at The Country Mill in Charlotte, MI

In a few minutes, super-wife will be ready for my help in the kitchen to can applesauce from the apples we picked today at The Country Mill in Charlotte, MI, about 20 miles southwest of Lansing.

There were only two or three cars in the parking lot of this huge orchard where we picked a half bushel of cortlands and a half bushel of macintoshes.  We purchased two plastic bags which we could fill with as many apples as we could carry.

The farm seems geared for families and for just about anybody who wants a diversion from urban living and a chance to handpick some good nutrition.

Michigan is a big apple-growing state.  The Michigan Apple Committee provides more info.

Here's a quick look from two of my Flip videos:

PBS series on baby-boomers, Life-Part 2, looks like a must see

Are you a baby-boomer, somebody born between 1946 and 1964 and somebody who is looking at life through a different lens maybe the bottom of an Aleve bottle? 

As member of the first class of baby-boomers born in 1946 who retired at age 58 who has been searching for more understanding of this period of life, I will be watching the PBS Series, Life-Part 2, which starts on Sep. 16. 

The topics covered in each show seem relevant in looking at boomers and marriage, finding purpose, dealing with the generation gap, dealing with doctors and dealing with your spirituality.

I learned this from an e-mail I received yesterday from Nick Watts of Twin Cities Public Television where the series is being produced:

"I’m writing from the national PBS series Life (Part 2) which premiers nationwide this fall. (check local listings.)  Our series connects with the 78 million strong baby boomers who are unlike generations before them.

"They are fitter, will live longer, will look better, will earn more, and will be more active than any generation before them. But are they ready for Life (Part 2)?

"How they are dealing with aging, and how they can overcome the societal, physical and financial obstacles that come with it to live a vibrant and fulfilling second part is the focus of this timely and groundbreaking series."

First part of the series this season will be shown on Sep. 16.  I called our local PBS station, WKAR in East Lansing, and they couldn't confirm it would be shown locally.

For more info, heres:  The show's Facebook Fan Page, it's Twitter page and its website.

Here's a promo from YouTube:

Status report: Getting rid of my "baby-boomer belly"

Earlier this week I posted about how super-wife and I joined Weight Watchers online.  Let me be clear I'm the one with the baby-boomer belly as I heard it described on a preview to an upcoming PBS series "Life (Part 2)" which I will write more about very soon.

Knowing that major changes in healthcare are probably coming and knowing that in two years I will be on 3871377818_9b19a55045_t Medicare, I knew the time had come to make a major and lasting effort to get rid of the belly.  I realize that I have been playing with an explosive risk factor that could send me to an ER and make me share my somewhat limited income on prescription co-pays.

Wednesday is our weigh-in morning.  This morning I woke up at 4 to go to the bathroom and while up I thought I'd step on the scale, a new Homedics from Bed, Bath and Beyond that we purchased in mid-July.  I can move it to anywhere on the floor and the weight will stay the same.

At my first weigh-in I was up .9 of a pound.  I went back to bed thinking "Oh crap" I gained weight.  I got up around 6 and weighted myself again after going to the washroom and I had lost a little over a pound plus.  I'll take that.  So far, since July, I've lost 10+ pounds. 

We are walking everyday.  I will be writing more about this during the week.

As an older baby-boomer, I'm just starting my prime learning years by using WordPress and Thesis Theme

I'm a non-techie who took to blogging a few years ago and who would get nervous and start shaking at the prospect of working with any kind of code or computer language stuff.  

I figure that I'm of average intelligence who has always had a phobia for numbers and anything to do with algebra or geometry.  It was just a few years ago that I started feeling comfortable with making change in my head.

Being in this new baby-boomer, retiree phase of my life I face the challenge of keeping the neurons in my head working to stave off the consequences of not using what you have.  I'm talking about forgetting names and other things that lead to that big road to nowhere called dementia.

That's where Word Press and the Thesis Theme come in.  Word Press is a blogging platform where one version has to be hosted or put on your own server space and a theme is an infrastructure both seen and unseen for a blog.

Using both requires a certain level of technical understanding and skill.  My personal challenge is to learn how to use both Word and Thesis Theme.  How far can I go?  Is it possible for a 63-year-old to learn how to cascading style sheets with proficiency?  Can I reach a level where somebody will offer me bucks to build them a blog?  

I've already done some consulting to help certain folks get started with blogging using a different platform and helping them understand content strategy and other related points.  But, combining this with the set-up skills would take me to another level.

My status report:  I have my test up on my own server space and I'm starting to learn the nuances of the Thesis Theme.  If you are a retired baby-boomer what are you doing to continue life-long learning?


I want to thank President Obama for helping this baby-boomer lose weight

In mid-July, I knew I had to do something about being overweight.  It's something I've wrestled with most of my adult life as I've gained and then lost and gained again.  As somebody in his early sixties, I knew I was  playing with a risk-factor that could be very unforgiving.

I knew I was already paying a price with knees that hurt and an ankle broken years earlier starting to hurt more.  Getting my belt to buckle was becoming experiential.  I knew the time had come.  But one3668047000_24d830cd9e_m  factor pushed me over the edge.

I need to credit that to President Obama and other very-liberal Democrats who want to nationalize healthcare.  

Having spent most of my life around government in some way, shape or form, I know that it does very few things well.  Quite often, it makes worse what it's trying to make better.  Continuing on a path of undisciplined eating, I knew that I'd be volunteering for serious health consequences and making myself possibly a baby-boomer customer of a government run health system.  I'd rather spend my time doing other things.

So super-wife and I joined Weight Watchers Online.  Let me stipulate that she doesn't need to lose weight, other than a few pounds that would get her to the right weight for her height and age. However, I needed to lose 40 plus pounds.

We are doing it.  Since mid-July, I've lost ten plus pounds and using the Weight Watchers program I'm looking forward to getting to my goal and staying there.

I need to thank my wife, of course, for her help and support.  But Obama and his liberal healthcare agenda helped push me over the edge in taking more responsibility for my own health.  

John Piper, pastor and author, Twitters on Obama school speech and abortion

John Piper is a well-known pastor and author who has a ministry called Desiring God.  He also has a blog and he Twitters.  In two unrelated tweets, he weighs in on Obama's speech to school students today and on abortion:

  • President Obama's speech to the children feels like an answer to my prayers. I hope my daughter hears it.
  • Racism is serious. Abortion is more serious. Racism might lead to lynching. Abortion is lynching.

I'm still not convinced that Canadians like their healthcare system

I know that my liberal friends who want a single-payer healthcare system in this country will probably shake their heads and call me a "wingnut."  But, I'm still not convinced that Canadians are happy with their healthcare system where the government supposedly picks up the tab for everything.

They point north to Canada which they describe as a land flowing with free healthcare for everybody and where nobody is denied for anything.

Then you read info like this presented from the Mackinac Center which states that the average Canadian struggles to find a primary care physician who will take them on as a patient.

Are my liberal friends out in some ideological la-la land that doesn't represent reality?  Or will they come back and say the Mackinac Center is a tool for the far-right?

Who is right?

I'm not inclined that government can do anything better than the private sector, other than the responsibilities outlined to them in the U.S. Constitution.

What good is free medical care if you can find a primary care physician?

Baby-boomers: How did you prepare for your 45th high school class reunion?

My memories of my graduation from high school are pretty hazy.  It was 1964 and I was concerned about two things, avoiding the draft to stay out of Vietnam and going to the local community college. 

The 45th anniversary of that occasion will be celebrated in less than two weeks and I feel unsure about how to prepare.  Why?

I'm not sure that I am ready to see how old I am getting.  By looking at classmates at my class reunion, I 3871377818_9b19a55045_t can see myself and see how many times the clock has gone round and round and round and that I'm a long ways from the days of walking through the halls of my high school.

Because I moved out of town right after community college, I didn't stay in close contact with old classmates.  Our lives went in a variety of directions and mine pointed me away from my hometown.

I know that I'm getting to the age when my mom was there I thought she was really old.  Do any baby-boomers who have celebrated a 40th or 45 high school class reunion have any advice about how to thrive and enjoy that kind of event?  Questions:

  • Should I spend some time studying my senior yearbook?
  • Should I be prepared for a classmate who looks really old and walks with a cane or a walker?
  • How do I handle the person where I know the name and the face from 1964, but can't put the two together in 2009?
Did you find your 45th reunion enjoyable?  I went to my fifth and it was a blast.  I went to one or two after that.