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27 posts from June 2011

My pick for politician of the day: Illinois U.S. Rep. Timothy V. Johnson for personally calling each of his constituents

It would be fun to sit down with U.S. Rep. Timothy V. Johnson of Illinois and ask him what he's learned from personally telephoning each of his 300,000 constituents at least once if not twice.  This Washington Post story has the details. 

He apparently works real hard at doing this and has made it a significant part of his life.  Think of the huge cellphone bills, but think of the possibilities its represents.  He knows his constituents from personal contact.

What would happen here in Michigan if each city council member, township board member, county commissioner, state legislator and member of Congress did this?  What if they just asked what was on your mind and how's stuff?  Would it make a difference?

Check this blog post from the National Conference of State Legislatures about this practice by U.S. Rep. Johnson.

A Dad Brag: My son and his wife's wedding featured in Washington Post Lifestyle section


Justin I don't like bragging about my kids, their spouses or our grandson.  Well, that's not true.  I do like to, at least, a little. 

My current brag is about my son and daughter-in-law's wedding this past Memorial Day.  Their wedding and a story about how their relationship developed is featured in the Lifestyle Section of the Washington Post.  Am I proud of them?  You betcha.  It's great story about a greater couple.

Baby-boomers: If you're looking for it, here's the real fountain of youth

As I wait for an Aleve pill to kick-in to take the pain out of a bad knee with very little meniscus, I read this AARP article from AARP about how baby-boomers can help stay healthy.  The answer is exercise.  The rewards to doing it can be many, it says.  Here's one description of this just before super-wife and I go for a walk:

"Exercise seems to be one of the key factors that distinguish people who have a healthy old age from those who don't," says Suzanne Leveille, a professor of nursing at the University of Massachusetts Boston who is conducting research on disability in older people.

"Being sedentary is a known risk factor for just about every poor health outcome, from being hospitalized to ending up in a nursing home, and even to mortality."

I'll be watching ABC's "Expedition Impossible" tonight

Expedition impossible  I just ran across this promo for ABC's premiere of "Expedition Impossible" at 9 p.m. tonight.  Count us in.  We are watching.  Super-wife and I are both longtime fans of Amazing Race.  The 15-minute promo of this new show seems to take the concept to a new level.

The contestants in this race are put through extreme tasks and conditions around the world and are faced with the choice of giving up.  I like watching and reading about how people react to the big life challenges.  

If you watch, comeback and leave a comment with your reaction.

Grace Lutheran in Destin, Florida tackles God's expectation of church versus the cultural church

We've been to Grace Lutheran Church in Destin, Florida several times and if we ever snow-birded it or moved to that area of the Panhandle, it would have to be a church we'd have to consider getting involved with. 

Check out their present sermon series on firing up the church and getting it to be an active, productive extension of the hand of God in their location.  Keep in mind this church is part of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS).  It has a reputation for being pretty staid and set in its ways.


FOR THE DINNER TABLE: Is the U.S. Constitution still relevant by Time magazine

At our house, our kids and our guests came to expect politics to be brought up at the dinner table.  So was religion.  These are all topics that some say you should stay away from while eating Boca burgers with corn on the cob and a glass of Great Lakes Red.

For your dinner table, check out the current edition of Time magazine with the cover story asking if the U.S. Constiution still mattered.  Lots of great questions are raised and all worthy of dinner table conversation.  Be prepared for a couple hour sitdown at the table though.

Check it out online and here's what the cover looks like.   Here's a description of the story from the Time Facebook Fan Page.



City of Lansing watchdog shines light on individual City Hall salaries

There's been plenty of buzz about the salaries and the hourly pay of Lansing City Hall employees.  However, our daily newspaper-the Lansing State Journal-has failed to shed any light on the facts.  Now comes a local man-Steve Harry-who got the information through a freedom of information request and then made it accessible to the public on the web.

Check this news story from and check his website where this info is released and check the other information he presents about local and state government.

What do you think?  Helpful?  Do we as taxpayers have a right to that information? 

Steve harry

Could this be the answer to the problems of Michigan's cities and other units of local government?

Many if not most local units of government in Michigan are struggling, some are suffering and some are on the edge of going bankrupt.  Their legislative bodies, city councils, commissions, township boards and county boards of commissioners more resemble a catty student council than a democratic legislative body.

Look at what's happening in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania where religious leaders of all stripes have banded together for three days of prayer and fasting to ask God to bring a spirit of cooperation among their political and business leaders and in their community.

This is really important.  In Lansing, our city council opens with a moment of silence where you can think pretty thoughts and impart positive energy.  How's that working?  Our city continues to struggle with its leaders never more divided and citizens less trustful of their local government.

We paid $3.32 per gallon for gas at Sam's Club on Lansing's southside

I'm curious about gas prices in other parts of Michigan, the Mid-west and the country.

Today, super-wife and I were at Sam's Club on Lansing's southside where they were selling gas for $3.32 per gallon.

The pumps were crowded and customers seemed to have a smile of their face.  This is in an area in need of an economic boost.  Lower gas prices help.

Michigan strawberries, Tasting Room sampler, grandson's first birthday and neighbors on medical marijuana

Just a quick visual report of some of the things that super-wife and I have been up-to and that we've been watching.  We picked big, red, juicy and tasty strawberries just north of town at Felzke's, we drank six samplers of premium California wine that I got as a Father's Day present from our son.  we took part through the webcam in our grandson's first birthday, participated in a neighborhood meeting on medical marijuana and the last pic is from our son's wedding to show that I still know how to tie a tie.





Kalamazoo County (MI) is looking at property tax millage to pay for homeless housing

How does your area help meet the housing needs of its homeless population?

In Kalamazoo County, commissioners are looking at a property tax millage to help pay for homeless housing and for housing assistance for those who have lost their homes to foreclosure.  Democrats there are all for it and the Republicans are against it.  Check this story in the Kalamazoo Gazette.

How many are homeless in Michigan?  What about community resources to help them?  How close do they come to filling the need?  Does the church play a role?

The Lansing (MI) State Journal owned by Gannett continues to die a slow death

You can almost hear the bugle playing taps in the background as Gannett newspapers announces that the Lansing (MI) State Journal will be laying off two more employees at the only daily paper in our State Capital city. 

It has fallen from a once proud position where it covered state government like a blanket, as well as local governments.  Now there's less than minimal coverage of anything but local sports, especially Michigan State University.

What have been and what will be the growing consequences to our area where state and local government does not have an independent and strong set of eyes and ears for the people?  What happens when officials have little or no accountability or oversight?

Are there any alternative news outlets in the mill to replace it?

Why don't parents name more of their kids Gideon?

As part of my process for powering-up for the day, I usually read the devotion from Our Daily Bread by Radio Bible Class.  I usually read it on their website with a paper copy nearby just in case I need a back-up.  For me, it's kind of like hooking up jumper cables to my heart so I get pointed in the right direction as the day gets going.

Today's devotion from ODB is about a guy from the Bible named Gideon who faced major leage fear when God told him to deliver Israel from its enemy Midian.  With his overwhelming fear, he was obedient and he was successful over a period of time.

So what does that mean for us today?

"We too may doubt our own abilities and potential. But let us never doubt what God can do with us when we trust and obey Him. Gideon’s God is the same God who will help us accomplish all that He asks us to do."

I ask God to make it clear what he wants me to do today and that I trust him to help me get it done.

Gideon is my role model today.  So, why don't more parents name their sons Gideon?

There has to be something good I can say about my father-Claude H. Thorp- on Father's Day

My first stop on the web in the morning is Our Daily Bread published by Radio Bible Class.  I usually feel the need to start off the day with a God connection and its devotion helps get that jump started.  Today was no different.

The devotion was by one of its staff writers Dave Branon who wrote about Father's Day and based it on Meandhim Ephesians 6:2 where the Apostle Paul writes that we should honor our fathers and mothers.  I revered my mom.  She raised me under the most difficult of life circumstances and she did it consistently with unconditional love.  She never gave up and when she died God had to call her home a couple of times.

It's different with my father.  I have no memories of him other than maybe two minutes when I was in my mid-twenties and came face-to-face with him for the first time.  That's where I learned the meaning of being disowned.  That was it.

I spent a lifetime wondering about who he was and what made him tick.  Beside my short personal encounter with him, I had a picture of him with me when I was a baby.  It's the picture in this post. It was the only connecting point I had for the other half of what went in the making of me.

So how can I honor my father, Claude H. Thorp who was born in Millerton, New York and grew up in New York City in 1909?  First, I can share this picture.  For most of my life just holding it would produce an immense amount of emotion.  At times, the gap left in my life by his absence in my life seemed as big as the Grand Canyon.

But I've learned and truly believe that my earthly father was created by God.  What does this mean?  I discovered that he died a while ago.  But he had worth as a human being.  He made a big mistake and never made any effort to correct it.  Something happened along the way that skewered his personal identity.

He should have heard Pastor Jeff Manion of Ada Bible Church where we attend.  He was teaching on Ephesians 1:5 about being adopted by the heavenly Father.  He put it in a way that I hadn't thought about it before.  He said, "Remember who you are."  He repeated that.  "Remember who you are. Remember who you are."

I wish I could have known my earthly father.  But more important I know that I've been adopted by my heavenly Father.  When I was thrown off the train and abandoned by my earthly father, it was my heavenly Father who picked me up.

I hope my earthly father heard that message before he died.


Moms: Would you want your daughter to marry a guy like Papa Bear in the Berenstain Bears?

Bears During the day super-wife and I will quite often have Family Life Radio on all day in the background as we do our stuff around home.  Today morning host Peter Brooks and his co-host started singing the praises of the Bearenstain Bear books to read to your kids.  Apparently, there are updated versions with a faith-based component.

For those of you who have read them to your kids, think back to Papa Bear and how he's characterized.  Did he pull his weight in the family?  No, he was a lazy dolt.  He ducked responsibility and he didn't try to hide that.

He was a poor example to his kids while being a big-friendly guy who would be fun to sit next to at the bar or the coffeeshop. 

He was far from being a good example to his kids with Mama Bear always being the wise one and the one who took the reins on everything.

With Father's Day just around the corner, what do you think?  Sure, you can make all the jokes.  But would you want your daughter to marry a Papa Bear type of guy?  My son is not that way nor is my son-in-law. 

Join the conversation on FLR's Facebook Fan Page.  Should this Christian radio network hunt for another example of a functional family to share with your kids?

Bears #2


How many Michigan school districts are like L'Anse Creuse in Macomb County and dying on the financial vine?

Capitol confidential
Michigan's public schools are dependent on the state for their financial lifeblood.  It was purposefully designed that way back in the 1990's during the time of Gov. John Engler and a Republican-controlled legislature.  As our state tax collections inch back up, the present Gov. Rick Snyder and another Republican-controlled legislature has denied school district funds they need to maintain.

Take this example of the L'Anse Creuse School District in Macomb County just north of Detroit.  According to Capitol Confidential by the Mackinac Center, the school district's administrators are projecting severe financial deficits for the next few years.  If they can't eliminate these, the district risks being taken over by the state.

The story recounts how the district's board of education approved a three-year contract with its teachers and how one board member, a teacher in another district, voted against the new agreements because of its length.  With the dire projections she felt the length of the contract was too long and too risky.

Great point and it's illustrative of the condition of our state's school districts.  Many seem to be tottering on the edge. 

It seems like our school districts are on the edge of financial chaos at a period of time when they have never been more important.

Is that an overstatement?  How do you track their situation with the paucity of local news?  Should legislators and the governor be held accountable for whatever happens?

What should I get my wife for Father's Day?

Tastingroom I wear the title "Father" with pride.  If I still had a resume, it would be first in the list of jobs I've held.  It has brought me the most everything that you look for in life.  Love, purpose, learning and a texture in life that you get in no other place.

I need to add that it could only be that way with my wife who helped make the dad experience top flight.  Doing it together and with her made the difference.  So husband goes right along with being a dad.

That's why I feel I should get my wife a Father's Day present.  Hey, I was right there when she delivered both kids.  I can sit back and recount how great the experience was and do it with a big wow sort of smile.  She did the work.  And as the kids grew, she was right there.

I've already gotten word of one Father's Day present in an e-mail saying that someone at least 21 years old has to be home to sign for it when UPS delivers it.  It's from the which sends samplers of premium California wines.  That should be fun.   And I will enjoy them with my wife.

But she deserves the gift.   Maybe I can say we deserve the gift.  We've done this together.  We will drink the wine together when it comes.  It's time to get out the  "big ass" wine glasses as Gary Vaynerchuk would say.

There are fewer jobs today than when President Obama signed federal jobs stimulus

When the federal jobs stimulus package was passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Obama wasn't it the promise that more jobs would be created? 

According to the stats cited in this piece by CNSNEWS.Com, it didn't come close to happening.  In fact, we've lost almost two million jobs since the stimulus was signed.  It reports:

In February 2009, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that 141.7 million people were employed. By the end of May 2011 – the last month for which data are available – that number had fallen to 139.8 million, a difference of 1.9 million.

What does this mean?  Is this proof that government can't create jobs?  However, it seems that it can be an obstacle to creating jobs.  Where would we be if the free market had been allowed to work?  Worse or better off?

Lansing gas prices go down to $3.66 per gallon tonight

So are the falling gas prices here to stay on the southwest side of Lansing (MI)?  Coming home from church tonight we filled up at this Shell station on the northwest corner at the Waverly and Old Lansing Roads and paid $3.66 per gallon.  Any of you understand this reduction?  What's causing it?  How long is it going to last?  I invite your comments.

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