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9 posts from February 2010

Is there anything to be learned from the corruption in the city of Detroit?

I read this story about former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick with sadness.  The Detroit Free Press tells about how the disgraced former head of the Motor City took big bribes from a contractor doing business with the city. 

The story tells about FBI evidence against Kilpatrick and against his father and one former staffer. 

What protections and accountability mechanisms exist to detect these criminal acts and how often does it happen in other cities in Michigan and around the country?

The citizenry of our state need to be thankful to the Free Press for asserting their journalistic responsibilities.  But with the immense weakening of the news media, how much of this blows right by reporters?

"The Noticer" by Andy Andrews came at just the right time in my life


I'm a 63-year-old baby-boomer who has been struggling with getting into the next chapter of my life.

My kids are grown and have moved away.  I've been retired for a few years and I feel like I'm spinning my image from wheels in my effort to gain traction about what to do next in my life and it has been bugging me.

Then I was presented with the opportunity to read "The Noticer" by Andy Andrews and published by Thomas Nelson.  It's a easy-to-read and a short book that packs a useful look at life and what the future holds for just about everybody regardless of their age or situation.

The story revolves around the conversations of an old man named Jones with a variety of different people in a small Gulf coast town who were experiencing life challenges which made them doubt their future.

Jones ran into a young homeless man trying to deal with the loss of his parents and any semblance of normalcy in his life.  There was a young businessman married and with a child on the way who was so driven that he ignored what was important and was standing on the edge of a cliff.  There was a couple who loved each other but who lost the ability to communicate that to each other and were on the edge of divorce.

The person who struck a chord with me was a senior citizen in her seventies who felt she had no more to contribute to life and death was the only thing in the future.  I knew that that could be me in another decade if not sooner.

It was the old man Jones who came along and took an interest in each individual and asked questions that helped them see their situation from a different perspective.  It's all a matter of how you view obstacles and challenges.  I get it. 

For the past several days, I've been looking for a Jones in my life.  I'm married to one.  But, I think I've come to the conclusion that it's time for me to assume that role in the lives of others.  I'm old enojugh and I've learned some things and I continue to learn.  I want to be a "Noticer." 

I recommend the book for anybody looking for a way to find answers to the whole myriad of life situations.

I will read it again, either on my Kindle or in my paper version.

Getting something out of Ash Wednesday this year

I want Ash Wednesday to be different for me this year. In the past, I've gone to Lenten services more out of routine as something to get checked off my to-do list.

As I watch what's happening in this country and the world, as I am disappointed by our leaders and as I get further into being a senior citizen, I feel a strong need to be closer to God.  And I know the opportunity to do that has been set out in front of me for me to take because of what happened with Jesus Christ on the cross and on Easter.

Tonight, we will go to the Ash Wednesday service at Our Savior Lutheran Church on the Lansing and Grand Ledge border.  I know that the only real hope left in this world lies with Jesus Christ.  It won't come from within me or someone else. 

This blog post about Ash Wednesday from Pastor Paul Moldenhauer of St. Matthew's Lutheran Church is Walled Lake, MI,  is a good starting point.  I've been humbled by my lack of strength and I want to recalibrate my heart to focus it where it should be.  Anbody feel the same?  Differently?

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Celebrating a late Christmas with super-daughter, son-in-law and unborn grandson

This past weekend our daughter Krista and her husband Adam made the trek north to our home to celebrate a late Christmas.  They have been traveling during the past couple of months in preparation for moving to Bosnia and this was our first opportunity to celebrate the birth of Jesus.

It was great.  They are great and they are excited as we are about the birth of our first grandson sometime in late June.

Check out the three pictures:  1)  My Christmas gift from them-a Barry Goldwater t-shirt.  Yup, I go back to 1964 when he ran for president.  I'm a Goldwater fan.  2) Krista showing her pregnancy.  The baby's doing great and it's going to be a boy.  Names?  I vote for Rocky.  3)  An ultrasound of the baby.  Wow.  That's something we missed with our kids.  But, it shows there's a real live, healthy baby in there.

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Is Weight Watchers Online still working for my baby-boomer belly?

Yes.  Weight Watchers Online is still working in my effort to lose my once very substantial baby-boomer belly.  When my knees were starting to bother me last summer and when a normal neighborhood walk was an effort, I decided the time had come.

Here are the stats:  When I started last summer I tipped the scales at 236 and last Wednesday, our scales said 207.  It works and I did it by everyday eating and by avoiding all the diet measures from the past that compromised my efforts.

Factors that made a difference include:

  1. My wife:  Even though she didn't have to lose more than a few pounds, she did the same exact program with me where we record on the computer what we eat along with point values.
  2. iPod Touch:  We both have a Touch and we make use of wi-fi at home and when we are out and record what we eat right on this device.  It's really easy.
  3. Skinny Cows:  We get these ice cream sandwiches at Sam's Club and eat them two-three nights a week and satisfy our taste for ice cream.  There are other Weight Watcher recipes where we can satisfy our need to snack, especially when watching television.
  4. Senior citizen-dom:  I realize that I'm at an age where the consequences of ignoring a risk factor can be very unforgiving.  If I go to the ER, I would rather do it because I dislocated something sliding into home plate.

Here are some of the challenges that lie ahead:

  1. Reaching goal weight:  I have a fear that once I reach that point that I'll relax my effort and I'll start to gain again.
  2. Exercise:  I've never by a physical fitness type.  I used to run for many years, but bad knees don't allow it anymore.  During the winter, I have to force myself to use the treadmill.  While using it, I enjoy watching MSNBC.  Maybe I'll get more informed.
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As Colts and Saints get ready for Super Bowl, here's the history behind forward pass

During tomorrow's Super Bowl between the Colts and the Saints, we will see forward passing at its finest.  There's no doubt that it will make the game exciting.

Forward passes were not always legal in the game.  And Pastor David Maier talks in the beginning of this video about how they came to be legal in the game and how long it took to get coaches to use them.  He's the president of the Michigan District of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.

His sharing of football history was part of a presentation to a leadership summit for his church body in a state that's being challenged with massive economic change.  They were starting an examination and recalibration of how they minister in the Great Lakes State.

Please note:  Part #2 of Pastor Maier's video; Part #3.

Northern Michigan's Atlanta Community School have four day week

Atlanta Community Schools in northeast Michigan have started holding classes just four days a week to save money.  They still meet the state's required number of class hours for the year, but they do it in a fewer number of days each week.

This Chicago Tribune story says it has had added side benefits with school attendance improving.

Are there other school districts in Michigan or around the country doing the same thing?  What has been the reaction?

U.S. will borrow $1 of every $3 its spends this year

Chew on this fact from today's Wall Street Journal and its columnist Gerald Seib:

The U.S. government this year will borrow one of every three dollars it spends, with many of those funds coming from foreign countries. That weakens America’s standing and its freedom to act; strengthens China and other world powers including cash-rich oil producers; puts long-term defense spending at risk; undermines the power of the American system as a model for developing countries; and reduces the aura of power that has been a great intangible asset for presidents for more than a century.

That's really scary.  What can be done?

When shopping for a house do buyers look for spiritual vitality in an area?

Super-wife and I have been talking about the next chapter of our baby-boomer retiree life and we've been raising the question whether we want to move south and for many Michiganders that means Florida.

While sitting on our couch and looking out of our living room window at near zero temperatures, we've been talking about spots to move in the Sunshine State's Panhandle.  That includes the area around Destin.

We've looked at tax rates, police and fire protection, closeness to the path of potential hurricanes and various things that would go into resale value.

But what about the spiritual vitality of an area?  Are there churches where their positive presence is felt in the surrounding community?  We don't feel as tied to a denomination as we were when we were younger.  But, it needs to be Christian and that implies Christ-centered and Bible-believing. 

In our area here in mid-Michigan, it seems like churches are just there.  They hold services and some events. But, they don't seem to be leaving a footprint.

Shouldn't the presence of a church in an area or a neighborhood be felt in such a positive way that it affects real estate values?  What do I mean?  The love from the church and its people would be demonstrated in such a way that it would have a magnetic pull towards the area.

A neighborhood needs good schools, of course.  But aren't vital, dynamic churches just as important?