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32 posts from November 2010

Learning about Medicare as a 64-year-old baby-boomer

Next year I turned 65 and join hordes of other baby-boomers in this country whose health insurance will be turned to Medicare operated by the federal government.  

How do you prepare yourself for the change.  I know there are four parts to Medicare and there are a smorgasbord of details.  

I've been reasonably healthy and have only one chronic condition, glaucoma where I take an assortment of eyedrops to manage the pressure in my eyes.  

I'm starting to gather links to educate myself.  Here's one from California Health Advocates which gives some basic facts.  Does anybody have others that might be helpful?

My second day reaction to the new Weight Watchers Points Plus program

Please note:  Here's a link to my first reaction to the new Weight Watchers Points Plus Plan

It's day two for us with the new Weight Watchers Points Plus program and all I can say is that I'm glad we're retired and have time to figure out the new weight loss points system.  It's a complete revamp of what we've used where I've taken off 40 pounds and kept it off. 

5221891748_b7b28133f5 Super-wife and I have gone through our kitchen to refigure the points value for the foods that we eat on a regular basis. 

If you're new to the program each food and each item that I drink has a points value and I'm allowed a certain number of points each day.  I can get more points for exercise and I'm allowed a set number of extra points to splurge on.

Not only has Weight Watchers changed the point values, they have changed the criteria which means that everything is different. 

Look at the picture in this post and you'll see a Weight Watchers cookbook and two other smaller books with point values for restaurant eating and for going to the grocery store.  We also have a sliding cardboard calculator for figuring points values in the kitchen.  That's all changed.

I feel that Weight Watchers has abused my relationship with them and needs to take steps to make it good.  They need to be more open and transparent about what's happening and they need to provide some kind of financial remediation for people who have invested in their tools.

And they need to more clearly explain the new program and how to make the transition from the old.  Perhaps, they need to give people the option to keep the old program.

I'm a 64-year-old guy who has had a problem with weight and the online version of Weight Watchers has worked for me.  I know that I need to wean myself away from it and depend more on myself. 

I'm anxious to hear the experiences of others who are part of the program.


AMAZON'S PRIME SHIPPING: We bought our GoLean cereal from Amazon

Amazonprime We are experimenting for a month with Amazon's Prime shipping program where you pay seventy-some bucks for free shipping to have something shipped in two-days.  And do you know that Amazon has a whole lot more than books, lots of grocery items and other household stuff.

We bought a six-pack of GoLean cereal for a price that's a bunch cheaper than our local Meijers supermarket.  We are looking for other items that we buy on a regular basis.

Does it pay to go this way?  Can you achiieve enough savings during the course of a year to make back the fee and save more?  Or is it just a convenience factor?  Is this an answer for baby-boomers and other senior citizens who are looking for an alternative to the supermarket?

We get one month free before having to make a decision to keep it or not.  Do you have experience with Prime Shipping?  Was it worth it?

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A KID BRAG: My son Justin featured at Washington D.C. "Sweet and Tweets"

Hey, I'm shamelessly proud of my kids,  In this blog, I've talked about my daughter, her husband, my grandson and today, it's my son's turn.  I just noticed that Justin will be the featured speaker next week at Washington DC's "Sweets and Tweets." 

This is a regular get-together of web and social media types in the DC area sponsored by Debbie Weil who has been a pioneer in bringing blogging to businesses and who has taken scores of business types by the hand to lead them through changes in the way we communicate. 

Wearing my proud dad hat, I invite you to check out the online promotion for Justin's talk.  I hope somebody makes a video and posts it online.  Hint, hint. 


My first reaction to the new Weight Watchers Points Plus program

image from If you put the terms "weight watchers" into the search engine on this blog, you will see that I have been a big fan of Weight Watchers Online.  I'm a member of the first-class of baby-boomers who has see-sawed up and down on weight as I've gotten older.

Weight Watchers Online has worked for me and with the help of super-wife, I've lost a significant amount of weight which has allowed me to give up a blood pressure med and which has eased up pain in a knee that has minimal meniscus.  I'm sold.

But, then comes today and the major switch in the way Weight Watchers figures points and how they assign values to food.  I find it confusing.  I also have questions about what we do now with the Weightwatchers cookbooks and other publications containing outdated point values.

The company should have provided more consumer education to make sure it's understood right.  There's also a certain temptation to think they made this change to require customers to buy new books.

What about other Weight Watchers?  How's the first day working for you?

Meet my son's girlfriend and her blog, Stamp48

Stamp48-2 I invite you to check out Stamp48, a new blog by a 26-year-old woman who has a special design sense for apartments, condos, for clothes and all the other stuff of daily life where a tweak here and there can make a big difference.

Her name is Lauren Morris and she's my son's girlfriend who has bought her ability to transform living spaces to her condo in Washington D.C.  And she brightens up the world around her with her sense of design for daily life.

She's a Butler University grad with concentration in business and finance and works as a person who tracks foreign aid projects.  But Lauren has started this blog to flex and share her interior design and craft muscles and to share ideas with others in that community.  Check out her blog and leave a comment that you visited.

The name for the blog comes from the number of stamps in her passport. 



Starting my mid-Michigan day off with God's Word: Moses and the snake in his hand

If you have a tendency to despair over lost opportunities or if you worry about the future, ask yourself this question: “What is right in front of me?”


Dailybread Life seems to be zooming by as I read this devotion from Our Daily Break-click on the above.

For me, it's way too easy to look through my internal rearview mirror at what I've missed and about what lies ahead.

This devotion by Dennis Fisher of Radio Bible Class is based on Exodus 4:1-5 where Moses is chatting with God about what lies ahead. Moses has serious doubts.

God reminds him to look at what's in front of him. It was a stick that turned into a snake. When he picked it up it became a stick again.

I pray today that God opens my heart to what's right in front of me that shows what he can still do in my life.

Reading a book to my five-month-old grandson Xavier

Meandxman It's the Sunday morning after Thanksgiving and our daughter, son-in-law and our grandson Xavier will be heading home right after lunch.  They will be moving to North Carolina with a stop in Indy. 

We celebrated an early Christmas with them on Friday night and one of the gifts we gave our grandson Xavier was a book--That's Where God Is--by Dan and Ali Morrow.  It's a great little book for a grandchild and it's built around a grandpa talking to his grandson about where God is.

For the next week after that cozy chair conversation, the grandson finds God in all types of places and then on the next visit with his grandpa, he reports back.

Because of distance, I won't be able to read it to him in person very often.  So my son-in-law Adam, his father, did a video of me reading it to him.  That way I can read it to him through the video whenever his mom or dad click on it. 

By the way, it's a great book.  I'd highly recommend it as a gift for your grandchild.

Pray for Haiti today as it votes for president

I wonder how many churches in the United States will be praying today for Haiti as it goes to the polls to 5093620437_1850a61b1f_m select a new president.  I raise this question after being home from a mission trip to that country about a month and a half ago.

What we saw is hard to put into words that anybody in this country can relate to.  The words "living in squalor" don't do justice to what's happening to the people who live there.  There's the hunger, the disease, the thousands and thousands of orphans, the living conditions and the paralysis of the little bit of government that's left there.

The country needs leaders with vision and character who can help reverse the what has happened especially after the earthquake and the scourge of cholera which appears to being continuing there.

Read this New York Times story today about the election and you will see that the obstacles to a better life there continue.  I don't know what the answers are, but praying for them seems to be a good start and with the election today, this is a perfect time to ask God's provision for them.

Before going into the Apple store, here's something to think about

Dailybread How many of you enjoy going to the Apple store?  We've been to the one in the Woodland Mall in Grand Rapids quite often where we've purchased two computers over the years and various other items. 

I love Apple products, the way they look and work and the way they are packaged.  I've drunk the Apple cool-aid. But . . .

As I get ready for church this morning, I read this devotion in Our Daily Bread by Joe Stowell who writes about collecting earthly stuff that you can't take with you when you die.  It's easy for me to fix a certain prideful gaze on my Apple stuff and other stuff and forget that there won't be Macs in heaven.

The verse is from Matthew 6:20: 

but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.


Will they be celebrating Christmas in North Korea this year?

I have been following the news this past week about North Korea and its efforts to assert itself militarily.

Samaritans With Christmas a little more than a month away, I wondered if anybody in that country will be celebrating the birth of Jesus.  How many there know or have been offered the truth of John 3:16 and all the hope that it offers?

A quick Google check shows that Christians in North Korea are persecuted and that Bibles and Christian literature are forbidden.  Here's what I found:

  • Wikipedia says that a little more than one percent of the North Korean population is Christian and that Christians in that country are subject to governmental persecution.
  • Mission Network News says that to get gospel materials into North Korea that big balloons filled with tracts have been launched from China into North Korea.
  • Korea Christian Gospel Mission writes that before World War II the capital of North Korea was a center for Christianity in Asia, compared to now with its repression of any Christian activity.
  • Samaritan Purse's Franklin Graham has developed a relationship with North Korean officials allowing the organization to send relief supplies for recent disasters and for him to present the Gospel.  He felt optimistic that officials were becoming more receptive to hearing the Good News.

So what can we do to help encourage the spread of the Gospel in that country.  Right now, it seems like prayers for that country and for its felt and real needs should be the number one thing.

What would happen if Michigan banned cigarettes period?

Scientists then estimated that passive smoking causes 379,000 deaths from heart disease, 165,000 deaths from lower respiratory disease, 36,900 deaths from asthma and 21,400 deaths from lung cancer a year.


This story-click on the link above-makes me wonder if Michigan should just ban the sale and use of cigarettes altogether.

Look at the number of people who die from secondhand smoke around the world. How many in Michigan die from smokers without being smokers themselves?

What's the cost to our state's healthcare system? How many illnesses could be prevented?

Aren't there pictures of President Obama smokig? Has his habit caused any illnesses or deaths because of secondhand smoke?

I know the argument about freedom of choice. But if I don't smoke and I get sick or die from somebody else's habit, there's a disconnect from that argument.

Don't you think?

Some grandson pics from Thanksgiving Day

It's all coming back to me when almost 30 years ago, I snapped every angle of my newborn daughter and then displayed them on one complete wall of my office in the State Capitol pressroom.  This time it's my grandson Xavier with the only difference being that the pics are digital and taken from frames of my Flip video.  This kid is a cutie.


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Is there anybody in Michigan who believes Detroit Lions can win against New England?

I remember when Thanksgiving in Michigan was synonymous with watching the Detroit Lions play on that day.  Some of those games are part of NFL legend.  I remember being at old Tiger Stadium to watch them play the old Oakland Raiders during the period when Fred Bilentikoff played.  It was pure excitement.

Today, the Lions reflect the state where they play.  They try hard, but the score always favors the other side.

So what will the final score be? 

What happens if the Lions win?  Will anybody be watching.

Check this Detroit Free Press story about the game.

Thanksgiving morning in our mid-Michigan household

Our house is getting ready for our Thanksgiving celebration as we anticipate the arrival in a few hours of our daughter and husband, along with our grandson.  A big turkey's in the oven, cranberries are cooking, the pumpkin pies are out of the oven and we just put a bottle of Great Lakes Red in the fridge.

Here's a quick look with a few pics.  Note the book, a Christmas present for our grandson.  It's about a grandpa who challenges his grandson to answer a question, Where's God?  






Baby-boomers: Have you taken time to put together your thanks list?

My sixty-fifth Thanksgiving and Christmas is coming up this year and I've been thinking about what I have Meandxavier to be thankful for as I move through this chapter of my life and get ready to open more.

My life now has some significant chronological context and I can look back and think about what I've learned and how I can pass that on as part of the legacy of human experience.  It's nothing terribly profound, but still important.  Some of the things I have on my list:

  1. I have real hope:  This was given to me by my mother, a single-mom, who survived and thrived right after World War II when I was born and when my father deserted us to never be heard from again.  Times were hard for her and survival seemed threatened on a daily basis.  But she always knew that God would provide for us.  She passed that hope on to me and to others.  I thank God for that.
  2. My wife:  She loves God more than she loves me.  I thank God big time for that.  She can love me because she has felt that love of God the Father and his Son Jesus.  This has left a lasting imprint on me and our kids.  And I know that her parents reflected this divine love to her.  She passed it on.
  3. My kids:  For much of my life, the word "dad" was the equivalent of a dirty word.  I would never use it and when I did, it would come out of my mouth like spittle on a hot day.  My kids changed that.  I did not have an earthly father that had any credibility but I was given the gift of being allowed to be one.  Now "dad" is a name I wear with honor.  And for the past five months, I have added "granddad to my list of names.
  4. My church:  I've struggled with the church for most of my life.  I got God, but I didn't get the church.  It seemed like it was just a service you went to on Sunday.  I've wrestled with that for a long time, but recently it has been dramatically a lot less.  We are attending a church where the Gospel in presented in a clear way, but the pastor helps you take the Cross into real everyday life.

Lots of other things cross my mind that I am thankful for.  Our home.  Our neighbors.  My pension.  Social Security.  Reasonably good health.  Eyedrops to treat my glaucoma.  Our Honda Civic that was built in Indiana.  Ada Bible Church.  My son-in-law.  My aunts and uncles.  My cousins.  Our Internet.  My MacBook Air.  Great Lakes Red wine.  My snowblower.  So on and so forth and not necessarily in that order.


Can Michigan use its exploding wild pig population to create jobs?

“If regulations aren’t put in place soon, that bomb is going to go off and we’ll be up to our eyeballs in hogs,” said Rusz, director of the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy.

The Bay City Times reports this morning that Michigan is up to its eyeballs in wild pigs or hogs.

According to the Michigan Wildlife Conservancy, there are up to 5,000 of the critters running loose in our state. And they, reportedly breed like rabbits.

How can our state use this developing reality to create jobs? There are plenty of innovative thinkers around.

Is there a market for their meat, their hide and are they a challenge to hunt?

How destructive are they?

Just curious.