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38 posts from May 2010

An online place to go this Memorial Day, The National Memorial Day Concert

Are you having trouble getting the spirit of Memorial Day this weekend?  It's easy to miss that the reason is to celebrate and remember the sacrifices of those who have fought our many wars. 

We walked by the site for the National Memorial Day Concert at the U.S. Capitol and we were impressed with the crowds.  Then we went back to the apartment and watched it on television. 

The concert was fitting and it was a living reminder of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.  Actors read eulogies for vets from World War II and Vietnam.  Here's the website for the show and for the occasion.  It's worth a look.


Buying ingredients for "beef bourguignon" at Harris Teeter in D.C.

The three of us-Justin, Gladys and me-ventured into the Washington D.C. Memorial Day heat to take a Metro Bus Circulator to go to the Harris Teeter supermarket to get the ingredients for "beef bourguignon".

The sun was bruising and the humidity was almost memorable as we passed the Navy Yards, Marine Corps barracks, around the corner for Eastern Market and down Pennsylvania Avenue and then a four block walk to the store.

Super-son and super-wife will start the food prep for the small party a little later today.  Video 1 0 00 02-24 Video 7 0 00 00-24

Michigan's snowbirds in Florida may have not been counted in U.S. Census

Pendergast is one of thousands of “snowbirds” who go south for the winter. If not accurately counted, some estimates place the loss of federal revenue sharing for Michigan as high as $2 billion. The Census Bureau tells residents to fill out their form in the place where “they live for most of the year.”


Just about everybody in Michigan knows somebody who is a "snowbird", somebody who spends their winters in Florida or other warm weather state.

Newsflash: This Grand Rapids Press story-click the above link-shows how the Census has failed to take this huge population group into account.

Question: How much will this failure to count lost local and state governments in our state?

Another question: This is something to ask candidates at all levels when they come to your door asking for your vote.

Michigan is still losing lots of blood because of unemployment

Nearly half of Michigan's people say an immediate family member has lost a job in the past two years, a new Detroit Free Press/WXYZ-TV poll shows. Barely one-third of us think the state's battered economy has begun to improve.

A new governor will be elected in November. Most of the current state legislators will be replaced.


Michigan's leaders will be gathering at Mackinac Island's Grand Hotel for a big shindig to talk about our state's future.

Will they do more than strut their stuff and drink cocktails or will they get the message from the recent poll-click the above link-about how almost half of Michigan has an immediate family member touched by unemployment?

Our state is still hurting.

How do we get more jobs? Less taxes or more?

Personally, I would opt for less.

Drinking "The Velvet Devil" from the Columbia Valley of WA with supper last night

Where does a good son take his parents on a hot Saturday afternoon?  Justin took us to Bells Wine Shop in the Dupont Circle neighborhood where we sampled 10 wines as a wine tasting.  It's a small store with an amazing selection of wine with a friendly-staff.

The three of us, including "super-wife", made it through the whole selection with the pour giving just enough for a small taste.  Here's what we settled on:  a 2008 Merlot-The Velvet Devil-from Charles Smith Wines in Mattawa, Washington which is in the Columbia Valley Region.

Did we like it?  Yes.  Details.  My palate is not developed to the point where I can separate out tastes like saying you can taste the blackberries on the front of the palate with a little bubble gum on the back palate.  But it was good with supper and an extended table discussion about politics, church and tech.

What did we do before the tasting?  We walked through the neighborhoods with the embassies.  Did we see Jack Bauer?  No.  But I was looking.  It looks like a neat area. 

If America Were Today Destroyed, Where Would you Place Your Hope?

Consider that for a moment.  If a nuclear bomb was set off in Washington, and a foreign nation decapitated our government, destroyed all that we hold dear, and made us all slaves, where would your hope be?


Where would we place our hope if America went down the dumper as a country?

Can't happen, you say.

It happened to Israel in Biblical times. Check out this post-click on above link-in Boomer in the Pew-for the "who, what, when, where, how, why and so what."

Should the city of Detroit be made into a tax free zone?

Make Detroit a total tax-free zone, eliminating all federal, state and local taxes. "Detroit went from being No. 1 in per-capita income among big cities to 62nd today. No other city has gone from such a high peak to such a steep decline. You have to have a very bold plan to turn that around. ... You'd be better off incentivizing private business to create jobs and investment than shoveling more money down through the bureaucracy."


How do we get a full copy of Newt Gingrich's speech to the Greater Detroit Mackinac Island conference?

He's the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and a Republican.

He's the party's czar of new ideas and he's not afraid to step out of the box.

Nolan Finley of the Detroit News, click above link, writes that Gingrich feels that positive changes will only be made in Michigan through a "citizens revolution." Politicians don't have the drive to get our state back on track, he says.

Is there something to his recommendation about making Detroit a tax free zone where there's no federal, state or local taxes? And what about his other ideas to remake our state?

Takes longer to find a job in Michigan and South Carolina

t shows that job searches were taking the longest in Michigan and South Carolina (19.4 weeks), followed by Florida (18.1 weeks), and Rhode Island (17.0 weeks). States where job searches were shortest include Alaska, North Dakota, and Wyoming, where the median length of unemployment was slightly less than eight weeks in 2009.


Click on the link above to see the results of a study that shows it takes longer to find a job in Michigan and South Carolina than in the rest of the state.

This is more ammunition while talking to candidates for the Michigan Legislature and for Michigan governor.

UPDATE:  Check this comment about the report from Michigan Capital Confidential by the Mackinac Center.

Be sure to ask Michigan legislative candidates to explain MI Business Tax

The MBT is even more hated than the Single Business Tax, which the MBT replaced in 2008.

Business owners are particularly upset with the tax's 22 percent surcharge, a result of last-minute negotiations in 2007 that headed off a sales tax on services.

The surcharged-MBT is a major reason why the cost of doing business here is 4 percent above the national average, according to Business Leaders for Michigan, which is pushing for state business tax reform.


Is your area of Michigan suffering from a lack of jobs?

One of the hot topics is the effect of the Michigan Business Tax, the replacement for the Single Business Tax and its effect on the ability of businesses to create new jobs.

Read this column--click on the link above-- by Rick Haglund in and how collections for the tax and its surcharge have declined.

But, businesses are claiming that its keeping them from doing more.

Get the legislative candidates coming to your door and showing up at local function to explain the tax and how it compares to the SBT and what alternatives are available.

Can they do it without resorting to tired cliches and platitudes?

Do you feel they understand the issue and can they explain it clearly to you?

Their answers affect you and your area directly.

Spending Thursday night and Friday morning in our son's neighborhood

After our son Justin fixed us omelets for breakfast this morning, super-wife and I took a walk.  We walked by Eastern Market, down Pennsylvania Avenue, by the Capitol and then back to his apartment.  Last night for supper we went to meet him at a nearby pizza place called Seventh Hill.  While waiting for him, we sat in what we thought was their outdoor tables.  Instead, we were sitting one table over at a trendy French restaurant.  It was nice.  Here are two pics.

Video 13 0 00 01-27 Video 14 0 00 02-22

If Kwame Kipatrick has a Bible in his cell, he should read King David's final prayer

The news media says that Kwame Kilpatrick, former Detroit mayor sent to prison for violating his probation on an obstruction of justice chage is in segregation.  He's probably seeing a Michigan Department of Corrections officer or two and perhaps he has seen a prison chaplain.

He's a young leader who has fallen far and who faces plenty of challenges when he gets out.  What can he do to help himself now?

I would recommend King David's final prayer.  David had an up and down life.  When he screwed up, he did it in a big way and it was ugly and impacted a lot of people with a high cost.  There was sex, violence and power-mongering in his story.  Then he got it by realizing where his focus needed to be. 

My friend Dave Porter, the author of the Boomer In The Pew blog writes about this prayer in a post and talks about how important it is for each one of us to take these words and make them personal.  I'm working on it, Dave.

Here's the prayer from 1 Chronicles 29:

Continue reading "If Kwame Kipatrick has a Bible in his cell, he should read King David's final prayer" »

Did you hear about Justin's Cafe where the sweet potato fries excel?

A bunch of folks know about our son Justin's love of cooking and for that matter eating too.  It's something he picked up starting when he was around two-years-old and would stand on a chair to help super-wife cook and bake.  He loved it.

When we visited my elderly aunt and uncle in Destin, Florida, he cooked a whole meal that dazzled them, especially my Aunt Aileen who has the reputation of being a top chef in her own right.

Check out these shots from "Justin's Cafe" where Gladys and I had lunch today.  We had a wrap with pieces of a chicken breast, some kind of cheese and pieces of raw apple.  It really moved the needle on my taste buds.  The sweet potato fries take eating lunch into a whole different orbit and a good one.

Here are some pics-by the way-it's not his restaurant, but I think he wishes it was.  It's near his home.

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How many more casinos does Michigan need?

This resolution was introduced in the House Regulatory Reform Committee (chaired by Rep Bert Johnson (D))  May 26, 2010, reading: "[State House] Rep. Bennett offered the following concurrent resolution: House Concurrent Resolution No. 54. A concurrent resolution to approve the Third Amendment to the compact between the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and the State of Michigan providing for the conduct of Class III gaming by the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians..." Keep reading the resolution


Click on the link above to the Citizens for Traditional Values website to learn about a legislative attempt to expand the number of casinos in Michigan.

Does it have a chance?

Isn't there another effort that would allow specific cities including Lansing and Port Huron to have casinos?

Has there been any legislative oversight on how the state's 23 casinos have effected the culture here? Good or bad?

Ask legislative candidates about the Michigan Economic Development Corp.

Michigan Capitol Confidential recently published an expose on Ann Arbor-based Google's lack of progress in adding jobs, despite a $38 million MEDC subsidy. Mike LaFaive, director of the Morey Fiscal Policy Initiative, has conducted two exhaustive analyses of MEDC and the Michigan Economic Growth Authority, which MEDC administers, in 2005 and 2009. Neither agency has ever refuted a single point of fact in either. The second study determined that less than one-third of jobs the MEDC has announced in press releases have come to fruition.


Candidates for the Michigan Legislature get off way too easy with voters. They usually ask them softball questions and in return get fluff answers.

Click on the link above and read this report of research done by the Mackinac Center about how the Michigan Economic Development Corporation and the Michigan Economic Growth Authority have given away tons of money to corporations in return for jobs and failed.

When the candidates for the Michigan House and Senate come to your door ask them how this can be allowed to continue.

They may minimize the research. Then ask them what they base their response on.

It's your money and mine and we aren't getting what was promised.

Can I take off four more pounds and then keep it off?

Today's weigh-in day for me with Weight Watchers Online.  Over a couple of weeks, I put on a pound plus and I was anxious about seeing the numbers this morning.

I'm a 63, almost 64 year-old baby-boomer, who has struggled with weight for a while.  I've taken it off a few times only to put it right back on within a year plus.  Given my age and risk factors, I know that it's vital for me to get it off now and to keep it off.

The scale said this morning that I had lost more than a pound from the previous week.  So, whatever I had gained I lost.  I am 203.4 and my next goal is 199 which I haven't seen in a long, long time.

Why do I mention this?  Simple, I'm approaching the year point on this program and I know where I can fall back and I don't want to.  That's why I need to be open and transparent about my effort to stay healthy. 

Super-wife and I are walking about an hour a day.  For my left knee which has very little meniscus in the joint, I do these walks with a knee brace with heavy-duty magnets.  It really works.


How about the baby Robins in our yard?


We've seen all kinds of Robins in our yard this year, including babies.  Did you realize that the babies stay in the nest for only two weeks and then they go for a two week school with their parents outside of the nest.  For the rest of the story, check this post from the Wild Birds Unlimited store in our area.

Are you a bird watcher?  How many different birds have you seen?

Two Flint (MI) leaders call for National Guard to control city violence

FLINT -- Shootings have become so widespread in the city that two former state representatives are talking about calling in the National Guard to help calm violence on Flint's streets.


Everybody in Michigan should be looking at the violence in Flint to see if a template for future law enforcement may be set.

Check the link above about how to Flint officials, both former state representatives, who are calling on Gov. Jennifer Granholm to mobilize the National Guard to deal with shootings and other violence.

Media accounts report how Flint's crime is spiraling out of control and beyond the reach of city police.

As local government struggles with vanishing revenue, urban and rural areas struggle with how to pay for law enforcement.

Is the National Guard an option to augment local cops?

My son-Justin Thorp-explains what he does as the community manager for Clearspring

Techcocktail A bunch of people who know my son Justin have asked me what he does for Clearspring Technologies with AddThis in the Washington D.C. area.  When I say he's their community manager, they smile and move on in the conversation. 

It's a job that seems to have blossomed with the tech industry, but is relevant to most businesses and other organizations. 

He loves his job and he really comes alive when explaining their product line and how it can affect life on the web.  For his explanation of what he does, check this post in the Tech Cocktail blog where he is interviewed.  It's pretty good.  


I finally made the cover of Time magazine

Meandtime I've felt a kinship with Time magazine since I was in high school.  How long has that been?  Well, I'm a member of the first class of baby-boomers.

When I was a journalism major at Michigan State University, one of the first five places I sent my resume to was Time and I got a positive letter back.  They offered to talk to me at their New York offices, but I had to pay my way there.  I passed and accepted a job offer from the Chicago Tribune.

But, my fascination with and my readership of Time never diminished until the last few years.  I still have issues from the 60s, 70s and the 80s and I've occasionally read stories from those issues.  I loved their news reporting and their writing back then.

It was good, solid news reporting with big doses of "who, what, when, where, how, why and so what" with lots of color and a twist of opinion. 

In the past few years, the magazine seems to have moved away from that and become much more preachy about issues and how people should believe.  Opinion seems to supplant good, solid reporting.

Will I renew my subscription when it expires in September?  I'm not sure.  I might not.

But, I made it to the cover along with more than 1,200 other people.  By the way, you'll see my Facebook profile picture inside the "b" of Facebook.