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28 posts from May 2011

Here's my "best man's toast" for my son's--Justin Thorp--wedding

Justinandlauren Here's a draft of my best man's speech/toast for Justin and Lauren's wedding.  I won't read it.  I'll just use this as an outline.  I'm excited.  We are having fun.

  1. My name is Wes and I’m the best man and father of the groom.
  2. As he describes it, I’m also chairman of his board and close friend.
  3. My relationship with him goes way back.  
  4. I cut his umbilical cord and today I will be signing his marriage license.
  5. As his best man, my job right now is to bring together all the different voices here in one big shout of celebration for he and Lauren.
  6. We also want to call out a mighty big God who brought the two of them together and got them to this point of starting a lifelong adventure together.
  7. We praise you Creator God and we celebrate you for your role in the start of something big, bold and wonderful here today.
  8. Three things that I need to share with Lauren about our family and about Justin.
  9. Everybody has heard that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
  10. No pressure here.  But you need to know that after being home from our honeymoon, we had a baby-daughter--Krista--within about nine months and a couple of hours.  Again no pressure.
  11. The second thing I want to share.
  12. There’s always the issue in a marriage of men not wanting to use a map or to stop and ask for directions.
  13. When Justin was in 8th grade, he and I came to Washington with a million other guys for a Promise Keepers rally on the National Mall.
  14. He offered to get us ice cream bars on the other side of the mall.  I gave him five bucks and he made his way through this mass of men.  I kicked myself for letting him do this and felt he would get lost for sure.
  15. Within 20 minutes, he found his way back to one very small spot.  He threaded the eye of the needle.  He knows his way around.
  16. Third thing is about how easy going he is.  But he has his limits.  One example was when he was two years old when he was sitting on the couch watching tv with his sister.
  17. Ask him whether he broke his collar bone because his sister pushed him or if he fell.
  18. One more thing about Justin.  He went through various phases in his life.
  19. He had a Ninja Turtle phase.  A ghostbusters phase and a Legos phase.
  20. It’s time to pull out the Legos and show how Legos relate to marriage.
  21. Two things:  We got them a house as a wedding gift.  A Lego house.  Look at the pieces one at a time.
  22. They are quite ordinary and insignificant by themselves.
  23. Put them together and they make something extraordinary.
  24. Check this box of Legos and its strength comes from the diversity of its pieces.  But when these unique pieces come together, they create dynamic things.
  25. The same is true for Justin and Lauren.  As they come together, they are creating an extraordinary family.  But they still retain their uniqueness.  Different personalities, experiences, struggles and achievements.
  26. As you move onward from today, remember who created everything and everybody
  27. One of the most significant verses in the Bible for me is Ephesians 1:5.
  28. We are told that God adopted us into his family.
  29. Our primary identity comes from him.
  30. I want to remind you of that as you start out today
  31. Remember who you are.
  32. Remember who you are.
  33. You are His.
  34. Let’s drink a toast to the new couple--my son and my new daughter-in-law Lauren.

Who is to blame for Flint being the "murder capital" of the United States?

I read this story from yesterday's Flint Journal about the city being named the murder capital of the country?  As a person who grew up in Bay City just up the road from Flint, I'm sad to see such a great city reach the point where it appears to be ungovernable and incredibly dangerous.

The story about the annual report from last year's FBI Uniform Crime Reports states:

For 2010, Flint recorded more than 2,400 violent crimes, the most per capita of any city more than 100,000. 

 According to the FBI, Flint had 53 murders, 92 rapes, 670 robberies and 1,597 aggrevated assaults.

 The 53 murders is a different figure than the city has — 65 homicides.

Flint is the birthplace of General Motors and when I was a kid, it was a center for culture, jobs and philantrophy.  It was dotted with car plants and the place that the Buick called home. 
Now, it's a suffering city where the toll will leave a legacy for generations. 
How'd this happen?  Who's to blame?  Republicans?  Democrats?  Churches?  How can it be reversed?  Is there precedent for city's making this kind of turn-around?


LINK: Check the Joplin Globe newspaper for up and close personal look at tornado

I'm chastened by the news of yesterday's tornado and great destruction in Joplin, Missouri.  If you're looking for more about how the town and its people were affected, check this link to the local newspaper, the Joplin Globe.

There's nothing like the coverage of an event like this than a functional local newspaper.  A reporter for the paper said on NPR that many of his colleagues were personally affected and who were still looking for family or who had lost their homes.

Joplin globe

When they say my leg needs to be amputated, this is the doctor I want to see

I liked reading this story about Dr. Jihad Mustapha of Grand Rapids for a couple of reasons.  I really enjoy reading old-fashioned newspaper profiles where there's an attempt to show a full picture of the "who, what, when, where, how, why and so what" of a person.  I really enjoy learning about people and what makes them tick. 

In this Grand Rapids Press story, the story of Dr. Mustapha is told.  He lived through the Lebanese civil war and gradually made this way to Dearborn, to medical school and then to Grand Rapids.

Then there's a piece about how he got involved in helping people save their legs which had been destined for amputation.  He developed innovative procedures resulting in many successes.  His work has attracted worldwide attention.

A second reason I liked reading this story is that as I get older and my various body parts wear out, I know there are doctors out there doing work that I or others might need. 


Get your prayers going for Michigan farmers to get rid of rainy weather and soggy fields

Michigan farmers are dangerously behind in planting their crops this years, according to this article in the Detroit News.  Many may reach the point of no-return in waiting for their fields to dry and just take a pass on this year.

What does this mean for consumers?  Higher prices in spades.  Corn will continue to skyrocket as will other crops.

An answer:  Put farmers and their fields on your daily prayer lists.  They and we need it.

FACTOIDS: Here's different ways of looking at the national debt

While you're sipping your morning coffee, here are some unsettling facts from a Reuters story about the national debt as our country gets closer to maxing out on what it can borrow.

A sample: 

President Ronald Reagan once famously said that a stack of $1,000 bills equivalent to the U.S. government's debt would be about 67 miles high.

That was 1981. Since then, the national debt has climbed to $14.3 trillion. In $1,000 bills, it would now be more than 900 miles tall.

Will we ever reach a consensus in this country about what to cut and how much?  What happens when we can't borrow anymore?


Lansing's Sharon Emery stared down stuttering demons and has won

Read this column  by the Lansing State Journal's John Schneider who writes about his wife overcoming a major challenge in her life, stuttering.  Tens of thousands got an appreciation from the move The King's Speech for how this can affect one's life and how it makes communication a real slog.

His wife, Sharon Emery, spoke at the local TEDx conference for more than 15 minutes.  Check how in her life she has grabbed the stuttering monster and pinned it to the ground.

She shows that obstacles can be overcome. 

Is her TEDx talk online?

Is coffee replacing wine and beer as the drink of choice in Michigan?

My son Justin lives in Washington D.C. where coffee-drinking has reached new levels with close attention paid to nuances of beans, where they come from and how they are roasted, as well as, how the coffee is made.  In his blog post this morning, he writes about it and asks for opinions.

Here is Michigan, it seems like coffee-drinking is still pretty pedestrian with high-flying among coffee-drinkers here being flavored coffees and drinks.  What do you think?  Read Justin's post and leave a comment too.


More than half of the city of Lansing's employees "say no" to living where they work

As the city of Lansing, Michigan's State Capital, struggles with its future as a desirable place to live, more than half of the City Hall employees, including police and fire have chosen to live outside the city, according to today's story in the Lansing State Journal. 

What does this mean?  They get their paychecks from a city where they don't want to live.

Mayor Virg Bernero keeps telling residents that they live in a "world class city."  Do his employees at city hall know that?  Do they believe it?  Why?


Dealing with your local city council or school board should be like dealing with your mother-in-law

Watching our local city council on television can be painful.  My stomach hurts after watching what appears to be massive disrespect between the council members and the council members and members of the public in the audience.

The perception is that nobody's working together and that listening and civil response is a foreign concept.

How about where you live?  What about your city council?  Local school board? 

I found these steps to civil relationships on  They're aimed at in-law relationships.  But, they would apply to city councils and other political relationships where civility seems to be lacking and counterproductive.  The steps:

Adapted from Pier Forni, Choosing Civility: The Twenty-Five Rules of Considerate Conduct.

  • Smile. People respond better to those who are positive.
  • Be considerate. Ask yourself, "Is what I am about to say going to encourage and build up the other person, or tear him or her down?"
  • Practice restraint and don't yell or raise your voice.
  • Have the courage to admit it when you are wrong. Avoid ridicule and don't humiliate or demean the other person. You can express your anger without attacking the other person.
  • Accept kindness from others and let others be nice to you.

Should the official Michigan bird be changed from the Robin to the Woodpecker?

  What can Michigan learn from the Woodpecker and what has it learned from the Robin during all its years  Woodpecker 2 as the Michigan bird?

Living in the Great Lakes state right now is not for the faint-hearted.  The future for living here seems hazy at best.  Success requires keeping your nose to the grindstone not unlike the Woodpecker who taps away thousands of times a day with a tiny beak to reach a bug or other food.

It might be time to change the state bird.  Michigan, the Woodpecker state.  Ready to sign on to a movement to switch bird alliances?

Check this blog post from our East Lansing Wild Birds Unlimited where the resident bird expert, Sarah, points to the different kinds of woodpeckers in the state.  By the way, this is a great blog and the store is a great place to find things that birds like to eat.  Evidence of that is our backyard, an inner-city bird sanctuary.

Why aren't Grand Rapids-area parents excited about cuts to their local schools?

Check out this story from the Grand Rapids Press about more than 500 area parents who crammed a meeting with state lawmakers about drastic cuts in state aid to their local public schools.  Both Republican and Democratic state lawmakers participated with the GOP members of the Michigan Legislature trying to justify cuts that could send some local school districts into bankruptcy.

The lawmakers are trying to defend the cuts proposed by Gov. Rick Synder to pay for a massive tax cut to our state's main business tax.  Republicans seemed to be telling parents at the meeting that less school aid will actually end up being more.

Read the story and then ask yourself if parents are buying the Republican arguments for making massive cuts to local schools. 

How is your local school district being affected?  What will the consequences of the cuts for your local school district?  Good or bad?

From cutting his umbilical cord to signing my son's marriage license

26193347_677fea107a_m My son Justin gets married next weekend and I'm really happy for him and his fiance Lauren Morris.  I feel that he is opening the first pages on the most important chapter of his life.  Finding the right person and living life together is a gift from God.

And my soon-to-be daughter in-law seems to be handmade for my son.  They are a fit and I'm excited to be part of their life and to watch them face the vagaries of life together.

But today I'm working on my piece of the upcoming ceremony where I'll be Justin's "best man." Yeah, it's a real honor to have my son ask me to be the groomsman standing right next to him as he ties the knot.  We've had a special relationship where in addition to being his dad, we are close friends.  The list of things we've done together is long and expansive.  We've drank countless cups of coffee made into everything from mochas to cappucino.  We talked about everything from computers to politics to all the variables of life.

We've been to 10 Promise Keepers rallies around the country, gone door-to-door for countless politicians around the state, applied to be contestants on Amazing Race, been to a state prison together as volunteers and shared our passion for the whole area of communication.

So I'm working on my best man speech.  YouTube includes countless examples some good and many less good.  I've thought about stories that illustrate his character and what his soon-to-be wife can expect.  These run the gamut from falling off the couch when he was a toddler and breaking his collar bone and the issue of whether he got a nudge from his sister to tricking his mom and my wife about him coming home to celebrate a family occasion.  And, there might be a Ninja Turtle involved too.

This will be in my personal Hall of Fame for memories, right along with walking my daughter Krista down the aisle and the birth of our grandson. 

Justin, you have always been a winner and you continue to be one.  I am one proud dad, best man and friend.

I've cut your umbilical cord and now I'm ready to sign your marriage license.


What about Jackson County's plan to put a boot on the cars of deadbeat dads?

Jackson Citizen Patriot has story about plan from the Friend of the Court to put a boot on the wheels of cars owned by deadbeat dads.  Are there deadbeat moms?  This is for those who don't pay mandated support or who don't show in court. 

Will this motivate these parents cross-wise with the law to meet their obligations?  Is this being tried in other places?

Time cover story: What makes powerful men act like pigs?

Time cover What about this week's Time cover story?  It asks:  What makes powerful men act like pigs?

Is it a character defect in this small group of leaders or do they reflect the changing and more libertine attitudes of their constituents? 

This behavior crosses political parties and national borders and it seems like people might raise their eyebrows, but they accept it.  Why?