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36 posts from March 2011

LINK: Here are easy ways to expand your Google search skills

Most of my baby-boomer friends use Google's search engine and most can find pretty much what they want.  But how can they expand those skills, including finding what they want quick.  Check out this list of neat, easy-to-use tools from Google.  It's worth a look.  Thanks to for the tip.

There are super-easy tools to find weather for a specific area, stock quotes, time in any area around the world, sports scores, sunrise and sunset anyplace, book search where you can find actual content, recent earthquakes anyplace in the world, people profiles, synonym search and much more.

Google search

Eating Sunday brunch at Zest Exciting Food Creations in Inianapolis

We saw this review of their french toast on their wall when we left the restaurant.
Our son Justin and his fiance Lauren hit a homerun this past Sunday when they took my wife and I out for brunch at Zest Exciting Food Creations at 1134 East 54th St. in Indianapolis.  We had just gotten out of church and the two of them found it by using Yelp and looking at reviews of nearby restaurants.

I wasn't sure what to expect when we found on the restaurant's window that the Food Network's Guy Fieri had just been there a few day's before to film an episode of his show, Diner, Drive-Ins and Dives.  His visit airs in May, according to our waitress and we will be watching.

The only thing that qualifies me as a foodie is that I like to eat.  I'm not one for tasting something and then being able to separate layers of different tastes.  I know what I like and I really liked their crem brulee french toast.  It was served with a side of cherrywood smoked bacon.

The taste quickly moved the meter for me to the wow side.  I'd love to try it again to spend more time with the tastes.  But that would preclude trying other items on the menu that grabs your attention like: a meatloaf sandwich with white cheddar&sun-dried tomato marmelade on sourdough, eggplant wellington, a 3-napkin burger and carrot cake.  I'm sure all of these have a special twist.

Perhaps what drew Fieri to the restaurant is that after eating my french toast I could feel my arteries closing.  But I sure had a smile on my face.  Let it be noted that they had plenty of healthy type items on the menu like a veggie burger and grammy's porridge. 

Thank-you Justin and Lauren for this special treat. 


Thinking about going to heaven or hell on a gray mid-Michigan morning

Dailybread It's easier to think about dying at age almost 65 and as part of the oldest group of baby-boomers and about the whole question of going to either heaven or hell.  I definitely have more life behind me than I have in front of me.  I will die.  And the question comes what happens after that.

Rob Bell, the infamous Grand Rapids-area pastor, has received a firestorm of attention by suggesting that people who die without accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior will have a second chance to gain entrance into heaven.

Today's devotion that I read in Our Daily Bread is based on John 14:6 where Jesus very clearly says he's the only way to God.  The devotion-writer, Bill Crowder, recounts how he once was turned away from entrance into a country because of visa problems.  He and his wife had to fly back to the U.S.

He writes about what he calls the ultimate entry rejection.  "I’m speaking of those who will stand before God without valid entry into heaven."

I pray for God's help in reminding me that there's only one way into eternal life and it's through Jesus.  There's nothing I can do to earn it.  It's a gift.

Gov. Rick Snyder: You need to take the lead on investigating death of East Lansing six-month-old

The murder of a six-month old East Lansing baby is a real-life test to see the real values of Michigan's new Gov. Rick Snyder who has promised to lead the reinvention of our state.  

The issue: a 26-year-old dad is accused of murdering the baby over an extended period of time and Ingham County Prosecutor Stuart Dunnings was seen on local television news last night with tears in his eyes as he discussed the case and the charge.  Prosecutors don't shed tears and I've seen nothing from Dunnings over the years to indicate anything different.  

There are different layers to this kind of case and the prosecution is one, while another is the involvement of the state's Child Protective Services (CPS) in protecting kids where there's evidence of abuse or neglect.  

Michigan has law that's pretty clear about abuse and neglect and it spends millions to investigate and act on such cases.  And it has the Michigan Office of Children's Ombudsman, an independent state office to investigate the state's handling of such cases.

Lots of questions exist about the care for this young child and the state's response to concerns about his treatment.  Was the state involved?  The local media fails to ask the question.

Here's a story about the case from WLNS along with the video:

Here's the Lansing State Journal story about the case.

Why am I interested in this case?

During my last job as a staffer in the Michigan House of Representatives, I had a chance to see close-up the state's response to the murder of a two-year-old from the Port Huron area.  The parents were found guilty of murdering her and are in prison.

A Detroit Free Press series of stories found that the state's human services machinery dropped the ball in returning the child back to the parents who then tortured and killed her.  While the state sat on the details of the case, the reporter shared a narrative about child protection machinery that failed.

Is that what happened here?  Do local state legislators have the will to call for an investigation?

Gov. Snyder needs to use his CEO skills and find out the state's involvement which would include the complete story, the good, bad and ugly.  


My almost daughter-in-law blogs about learning how to use her new digital single reflex camera

I've already e-mailed my almost daughter-in-law Lauren Morris and asked her for digital copies of pictures that she took of super-wife and me this past weekend in Indy.  Great shots and I can't wait to get prints of that one and others.

She and Justin just got a Nikon DSLR camera to record their new life together including their honeymoon to Italy and a stay at a Tuscan villa. 

In her blog, she writes about her efforts to learn how to use it and shows some examples of her beginning efforts.  Let her know what you think and feel free to share any useful tips. 

Stamp48 is a blog about adding some snap, crackle and pop to your life with design, color with little cost.

I have a question for Mark Murray, president of Meijer in Michigan and other states

Mr. Murray: 

What do I do now when I come home from shopping at Meijer on West Saginaw in Lansing and find that I've been overcharged by your store?

The price, I assume, of the item will at least be on the shelf and will then be scanned.  I've found far too many times that the two don't always match and each time it's the scanned price that exceed the sticker price.

The Michigan Legislature passed a law to eliminate the state's item pricing law and Gov. Rick Snyder has signed it.  This means that the consumer will have no protection from being overcharged.  I know what the answer will be from your store directors.  They will point to in-store audits that are not shared which they show that their prices almost match 100 percent of the price that's scanned.

Meijer I have too many experiences where we come home from grocery shopping and find that not to be the case.  What do you do when you live more than five-miles away from the store and can't take the item back easily.

How much money does Meijer and other stores make from overcharges?  Consumers need some help with this and Meijer needs to get back to the values of Frederick Meijer and place the interests of the consumer before the interests of the bottom-line.

I remember seeing Mr. Murray grocery shopping at the Meijers on Lake Lansing Road in Lansing when he worked for the state of Michigan as a department director.  He would be with one of his kids and I would be with my young son.  He seems like an honest guy who wanted to do the right thing.  It's time for him to take some leadership on this.

Do you check your grocery receipt for mis-priced items that scan at a higher price?  What do you do?  Take them back or just suck it up?


How do you not forget what you read in your morning devotions?

Dailybread Super-wife and I try to walk everyday and one of the highlights is our conversation.  A permanent item on our talk agenda is what we read in our personal devotions after we got out of bed.  And you know what?

She'll ask or I'll ask what the other read and meditated on and quite often it won't comeback from the recesses of our memories.  Perhaps, it never made it that far.  Can anybody relate?

That's why I'm posting what I read in today's devotion in Our Daily Bread by Radio Bible Class.  I get the print version, but most often I go to the online site which contains a ton of useful resources.

What did I read this morning?

Continue reading "How do you not forget what you read in your morning devotions?" »

A Grandpa Brag: Spending time with nine-month old Xavier during an Indy visit

He's nine months old and he's a real charmer.  We spent the weekend in Indy with our grandson Xavier, along with his mom and dad and his uncle and almost-aunt.  

So how's he doing?  He's big-time cute and a real charmer and a joy to spend time with.  Thank-you God for my family. Here are a few pictures.



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How would you grade Michigan U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers as a member of Congress?

When I worked in the Michigan Senate, I remember being impressed with now U.S. Rep. Mike Rogers when he served in that body.  He seemed to be grounded in solid personal and political values and his star seemed to be rising on the state political front.

While working for a state senator from southeast Michigan, I had a chance to sit on the floor of the state senate next to Rogers and his desk.  He knew his district, its people, their concerns and he was an effective advocate for them.

Since then, I've retired from being a legislative staffer and I'm now just a garden variety constituent of Rogers.  Occasionally, we get a slick flyer from his office promoting what he has said and done.  But there hasn't been much else.

What about Rogers?  He has risen in leadership responsibilities in the U.S. House of Representatives.  He's a player on the national stage.

But how does he rate as a representative of a very challenged area of Michigan?  Does he actively engage constituent conversation with him?  Does he listen?  Does he respond?  Just curious.  Here's a video of him being interviewed on ABC News about Libya:


Michigan State Rep. Rick Olson of the Ann Arbor area needs to do one more thing

Michigan State Rep. Rick Olson is a freshman legislator from the Ann Arbor area who has been going door to door in his district to get face-to-face feedback from his constituents about proposals to drastically cut spending for schools and to cut tax breaks on pensions and eliminate the Earned Income Tax Credit.

Reprickolson The story about what he's learning is in this morning's newsfeed for and gives plenty of good detail about reaction that Olson is receiving and about the new legislator's attitudes about the proposals and how they need to be modified.

But the question that comes to my mind is why Olson, a Standford Law School graduate, doesn't use social media like a blog, a Facebook Fan Page or Twitter to have an ongoing conversation with all his consitutents.

Is he too much of a baby-boomer to have a communication mind-set and experience with how social media is actually a cultural shift in the way people interact in the marketplace?  He has time to change and to get his district connected for the great tasks that lie ahead in this state.

He could start by reading Gary Vaynerchuk's new book The Thank You Economy which is aimed at businesses, but applies equally to governmental leaders.

A CLARIFICATION:  On my Facebook page, a friend suggested that I was being critical of Olson for going door-to-door.  I think that needs to be positively acknowledged and encouraged.  But legislators have limited time to have that front door type of interaction with constituents.  My point and my suggestion to Olson and other legislators is that they need to learn how to leverage social media to get a real and an ongoing conversation going with the people they represent.


Would you believe that Michigan auto insurance rates are highest in nation?

It's cheaper to buy auto insurance in bumper-to-bumper Washington D.C. than it is in Michigan. Check this out from a story in today's Detroit Free Press:
Michigan auto insurance rates led the country -- $2,541 a year for a hypothetical 40-year-old man with a clean driving record -- in an annual survey released last week by the consumer insurance information site

Here's the link to the Detroit Free Press story about the auto insurance rates:

City of Detroit has massive population loss, according to U.S. Census

Residents of the city of Detroit are leaving in droves, according to U.S. Census figures released this afternoon.

The Detroit News reports:
The loss of 238,270 residents since 2000 is a sobering statistical stamp on a decade's worth of job losses, plant closings and foreclosures in a city that was home to 1.8 million residents in 1950. Detroit's nearly 25 percent decline in population was the most by far among the top 20 cities, with only Chicago showing a population loss of 6.9 percent.

What does this mean for Michigan and for the metro-area around Detroit? The story:’s-population-falls-to-713-000

Using my iPad to write a blog post

image327339914.jpgMy MacBook Air is in the shop again, so I'm using my iPad to write this post. I've tried this a couple of times before with varying degrees of success. I've used various blogging clients form the App Store and each one seemed to miss a feature or two to make it a practical tool.

I've inserted a picture to see how well this works using the iPad for posting.

My MacBook Air has some great features, especially, its size. But it seems to be finicky at times requiring visits to the repair shop. Would I get another one? I'm not sure. But I'm glad I have Apple Care.

By the way, the picture is of me last month when I was going out to our garage to get our snowblower. Hopefully, those days are over with for awhile.

Our daughter Krista was the first baby born at the hospital on St. Patrick's Day in 1982

Krista What are your key life memories, the ones that bring an instant response whenever you think about them?

For me the memory that brings an instant smile to my face was the birth of our daughter Krista at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing on St. Patrick's Day 29 years-ago.  When I think of her birth, I unlock a whole section of my memory bank that helps me focus on the truly important parts of life.  Whatever direction my life takes as I get older, I will always be able to see and fall back on a shelf full of great memories that involve my family and ultimately point to the faithfulness and grace of God.

I am proud of the woman she has become.  She's a wife, a mom, a nurse and a daughter of God.  She knows where she gets her primary identity.  She's a winner.

She and her family are in North Carolina waiting to move to Bosnia.  But her mom and I will be celebrating her birthday and we will be talking about the day she was born.  Count on it.  Happy Birthday Krista.  I love you.



My grandpa brag: Watch our almost nine-month-old grandson crawl

Super-wife and I have big smiles on our face right now and it's because of the video clip we just saw of our grandson Xavier crawling.  On our power-walk this morning, we spent the 42 minutes talking about what we were doing twenty-nine years ago, the day before our grandson's mom was born.  We both had to say "PRAISE GOD" for being able to experience that together.  And now we are praising God for being grandparents.  Yay, Xavier.  Get ready for the kid fun to keep coming, Krista and Adam.


My reading on the web for Tuesday, March 15, 2011

From my reading on the web:

  • Former Mackinac Center president Larry Reed rocking Facebook--Now the head of the Foundation for Economic Education, Larry Reed formerly of Midland's Mackinac Center, has a new Facebook Fan Page with more than 5,000 likes.  It's a strong indicator of interest in the philosophy of the free market economy.  8:22 a.m.
  • Seniors protesting pension tax--At the State Capitol today, senior citizens are expected to protest Gov. Rick Snyder's pension tax proposal.  This is a chance to measure how upset they are about having their pensions tax for the first time.  8:15 a.m.
  • A refresher on the Goldfinches in your backyard--From our Wild Birds Unlimited store in East Lansing, here's a primer about the Goldfinches and their uniqueness and the finicking natures.  Good stuff. 8:01 a.m.
  • Fukushima Is No Chernobyl--There's plenty of handwringing about the safety of nuclear power right now because of the Japanese earthquake.  From the Buzz Bin blog, here's a good explanation about how the Fukushima problems are different from Chernobyl.  Can we breathe more easily?  7:45 a.m.

This picture is proof that my wife practices what she preaches

My wife has restarted her blog originally-aimed at third grade families.  She's a retired third grade teacher who left the classroom with a still-burning passion for helping kids learn especially those in lower elementary school. 

Most recently, Gladys has had a series of posts about the importance of reading aloud to your kids.  She breaks her observations into age-groups and provides very usable suggestions. 

Yeah, but, did she do it with our kids?  Yes, yes and yes.  Our living room couch had butt imprints from her and our kids where they would sit down and she would read to them.    Here's proof in this picture:


One of my all-time favorite family pictures

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is a case study in why corporate CEO's don't make good political leaders

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is trying to rule our state, rather than lead it and this Facebook effort to promote recalling him as governor is evidence of that.

He failed miserably during his campaign in bringing state residents together around a specific and detailed vision of where the state should be headed.  As our state was doing an economic death dive, he flashed his credentials as the CEO of a failed computer company and as a venture capitalist.  He said he would reinvent the state and get more jobs.  That was it.

Ruling by fiat and declaration works for a CEO but not for a political leader at any level.  There was a consensus among voters last fall and it wasn't for Rick Snyder.  It was against our last governor, Jennifer Granholm.  He failed to bring people together and that inability is showing now.

Divisions in the state are widening as union members are hunkering down ready for a fight.  Rather than fighting to correct state problems, we will continue fighting each other.

Watch this Facebook group to recall him grow as Snyder tries to bully his ideas through the legislature. 

What we have is a case study for voters to examine and learn from.


Ron Anderson of Bay City, my uncle, is real close to celebrating nine decades of life

Today is Ron Anderson's 88th birthday.  To help celebrate, I wish I could bring a bottle of Great Lakes Red to his home to help celebrate what has been and continues to be a very special life.  He's from Bay City, Michigan, via Hesperia where he was born.  He and my Aunt Aileen have been married more than 60 years and have lived a life should be a template for others.

What makes their life special?  They've seen victories and defeats, the times where there was big family celebrations and those when life was lived minute-by-minute as they dealt with intense tragedy and loss.  And they are still doing it.


What about Ron?  He's a vet of World War II and served time in the Pacific.  He became one of the first dealers for Motorola's two-way radios for police, fire and public service.  He built two businesses and was one of the first Apple computer dealers in the country.  He's continues to be an innovator where he sees a need and develops a solution.  He's on Facebook and he has a blog.

From my earliest memories as a young boy, you could always see a third person walking alongside them.  They have kept their focus and their faith in Jesus Christ.  I know that their faith in him is very real and vital.  Happy Birthday Ron.  If you hear glasses clinking up north, it's Gladys and I remembering a special day.  Here's a video clip of him explaining his service during World War II:


Part #1-World War II vet shares from Wes Thorp on Vimeo.