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18 posts from February 2012

It's 5:15 a.m. and it's raining hard outside here in mid-Michigan


I just opened our front door and saw the rain really coming down here in mid-Michigan with pools of water on our front sidewalk.  In a few minutes, I'll make a basement water check.  Temperature, according to a is supposed to reach the 50s today.  Guess I won't be using my snow blower today.

How is our mild weather affecting the usual Michigander travel to Florida?  When we were there earlier this month, the weather was better than ours, but not much.

My brother became more real to me on Friday night

My brother
Super-wife and I were sitting in our usual spots on the couch watching an episode of Dowton Abbey when I plugged the name of my brother, Claude Thorpe, into Google and it shot back his obituary from a New York newspaper.  I was incredulous that it was him.  He was somebody that I heard of from the time that I was a small boy.  He was never more than a name occasionally talked about and written about in old letters.

But, he was my brother.  Actually, my half-brother.  We shared a father who had him with another woman. As an aside, can you call a half-sibling a brother or sister?  I am choosing to call my half-brother, a brother because I feel he is.  I had one other half-brother and a half-sister.  So, that's two brothers and a sister.

When I found the obit from the paper, my eyes were glued to the reality of family that I never really knew. There was a cautious excitement.  Then I decided to ask my friends for some help.  I went to Facebook and my 800 plus friends and shared a screenshot of the notice of my brother's death and asked for their suggestions to find out more.

The responses poured in within minutes.  Wow!  A neighbor who knows her way around the web and who has an inquiring mind poured her heart into finding more.  A friend in St. Louis joined in.  A family-member in Maine offered some info.  More than 40 responses in a Facebook thread that took place over a couple of hours.

Where do I stand with this?

I know more than I did before.  My brother became a little more real and a couple more holes in my personal identity were filled in.  I will keep working at this.  It's not over yet.  I wish I could have known my brother before he died.  He had my dad's name.  

I find myself remembering what our pastor said in a sermon about identity.  "Remember who you are.  Remember who you are.  Remember who you are."  For too many years, I let my identity of my earthly father rise higher than my identity as the child of my heavenly Father.

I would still like to know more about my dad and his side of the family.


As a Roman Catholic, is Rick Santorum a real Christian?

I just read this story in today's Lansing State Journal about how Rick Santorum is benefiting from being mis-identified as an evangelical Christian when he is really a Roman Catholic.  

That really brings back memories from my childhood in the sixties when John Kennedy ran for president and all the concern that existed because he was a Catholic.  I remember literature circulating at that time in northern Michigan that warned the Pope would move into the White House if Kennedy was elected.  

In my large extended family, these concerns were actually talked about.  Keep in mind that this was during a period when the polarization between Catholics and others was wide and had high walls around it.  As a Missouri Synod Lutheran, I would never touch a Rosary, nor would I step into a Catholic church.  During Lent in Bay City, you couldn't go to a restaurant and order something with meat, it was all fish.

Those attitudes have changed.  When I was an in-prison volunteer with Prison Fellowship, I worked with several Catholic priests.  They confessed strongly that the only way to God was through Jesus Christ.  That was a real ka-ching.  

Santorum seems pretty sincere.  I'm impressed.  I'm wondering, is he being sincere or is this just part of the political theater that happens every four years?

How would $5 per gallon gas like Los Angeles affect Michigan's fragile economy?

In a couple of hours, we will get in our car and drive about 45 minutes to church and on the way we will drive by our neighborhood Shell station where gas is hovering at the $3.69 per gallon level.

What if gas rose to $5 per gallon in our state like Los Angelese that is mentioned in this news story?  Would we have to pick a church closer to our home?  Would it affect our gasoline dependent economy in this state? Anybody in the state legislature planning for this eventuality?

We vote on the presidential primary on Tuesday.  Which candidate has a shot of developing and implementing an energy plan that can get us through this?  I'm not seeing it.  Prospects don't look bright.

Doing this is probably more important than voting this year

I know that our country is in trouble and my first reaction for a solution is to troll through the list of candidates for the answer and this time I'm not finding it.

I found this page at the Billy Graham website asking for people to commit to praying for country and saying that our people have veered away from God and that our problem is one that will be solved only through changed hearts.  

Hearts aren't changed for the better through politics.  That only happens through God.  It posted this Bible verse:

"If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV).

This is the answer, I know.  Oh, I'll still vote, but I don't want to get distracted from the source of the real answer.  It's God.  That's the only way we will get real change in this country.


Here's an answer to all the political and cultural acrimony in our state and country

It's really easy to become discouraged with all the polarization and acrimony in our culture today. Whether you're in church or in a coffeeshop, bring up the economy, unions, the Right, the Left, the Legislature or the Congress, you feel like you're in the middle of a firefight in a war zone.  

There's minimal respect for other points of view and there's name-calling that would never be allowed on the playground.  It seems like everything that can possibly be done to discourage sincere interest in politics is being done.  What's the answer?

While I was going through the various offerings for today on the Radio Bible Class website, I found this video by Joe Stowell, the president of Cornerstone University.  He talks about the importance of not being distracted by the noise of the world from the fact that Jesus Christ is coming again.  We are to stay centered on him.  The challenge is how do I work this into the fabric of my thoughts and actions.


I was just looking for an excuse to buy the book "Inside Apple" for my son

In a post yesterday, I pondered whether my son Justin read my blog and whether he would read that post where I offered to buy him a book about the corporate culture at Apple computer.  It's a book that had him written all over it.  He's always been fascinated by organizations and how they work and how they stay viable.

And I knew he's a Kindle user on his iPad and that he reads a lot particularly on his bus ride to and from work.  I was sure he had heard of "Inside Apple" by Adam Lashinsky of Fortune magazine, but I knew that he probably had a stack of unread books on his iPad.

I still thought it would be a neat gift for those days when the bus is caught in traffic.  So, I got him the book by purchasing a gift card where all he had to do to get the book was click on a link.  It's a great way to buy somebody a gift.

Yes, he does read my blog.  I knew that.  And I'm happy that we have that point of contact through blogging.

Next, I have to find out about kid's books on the Kindle.  My almost two-year-old grandson in Bosnia is a prime candidate.  Then there's my daughter, my daughter-in-law and my son-in-law.  I love buying people books.  

A snow blower video for my 19-month old grandson Xavier

Our grandson Xavier lives on a mountain side in Eastern Europe and our visits have been great, but mainly over the web on Skype.  They recently got a big dump of snow and he got a chance to use his own snow shovel.

He's a kid who loves big trucks, engines that make a lot of noise and he would be a fan of snow blowers if he was around.

To deal with our hard winter which we haven't had, I bought a new snow blower.  I made a video to show him how it works.  Here it is:


Checking to see if my son, Justin, reads my blog

Actually, I'm pretty sure that my son Justin, at least, checks the titles on my blog posts and reads some

along the way and as he has time for.  But, to see if he's reading my blog this morning, I have an offer for him.

I read an excerpt of a book this weekend that he would absolutely love, Inside Apple by Adam Lashinsky of Fortune magazine.

It outlines the corporate culture at Apple and gives great examples of how it works and anecdotes about the premium it puts on secrecy.  Wow.  It even keeps employees from different groups from talking with each other about what they are working on.  The place doesn't sound like much fun.  It sounds more like one big closed-up religion.

It reminds me of the first twelve episodes of Homeland with Clare Danes that I watched on Showtime. There's plenty of reason to be paranoid, apparently, if you work at Apple.

My deal for Justin:  If you read this and you haven't read the book and if you are interested in reading it, can I buy it for you on Kindle.  It would be a for national "You're a Great Son" day.  And then you can lend it back to me when you're done.  Looks like a great book to read on the beach.


My Uncle Ralph changed his zip code to heaven

My mom came from a family of twelve brothers and sisters, six boys and six girls.  This means that I had lots of aunts and uncles while I was growing up.  And because most of them lived in and around Bay City, I saw them frequently.

With the death over the weekend of my Uncle Ralph Moll, I now have one uncle left and two aunts. My Uncle Ralph is now in heaven after passing away two days after his 89th birthday.  

My mother's family left a huge imprint on my life.  They have a story that would match any of the Little House on the Prairie books with drama, excitement, family, hard times, survival and love.  I didn't always appreciate the sibling relationships that existed with them.  

Their parents died young while they were living on a farm in the Thumb of Michigan when many were still young kids.  The older ones including my mom kept the family together through a lot of tough times and going without.  I know that it was slog, mixed in with some good times.

Uncle Ralph was part of the group and one of the men that I looked up to as a role model on what it meant to be a man.  

He had three sons and a daughter.  His son Roger was killed during the Vietnam war.  

I thank God for my aunts and uncles.  They weren't perfect, but they provided a framework for life.  

Uncle Ralph now joins my mom and the others in the heavenly stands cheering on those of us still left here on earth.


Cinnamon and God on a Monday morning in mid-Michigan

My first stopping point on the web in the morning is usually the Radio Bible Class website where there is a feast of devotional materials about God, the Bible and daily living.  I usually go first to the online version of Our Daily Bread to jumpstart my thoughts about my relationship to God.


Today, it was written by Bill Crowder, one of their regular staffers and writers who wrote today about his love of cinnamon everything and he mentioned how he never gave much thought about where it came from until he ran across the fact that most comes from Sri Lanka.


Then he talks about how quite often he fails to think about the source of all the good things in his life.  He talks about his family and how they've been a gift.

This morning I'm reminded of last week when I was asked how many members were in my immediate family.  It started with two and we are now at seven and if I count Latte The Pup, it's eight.  They are verification of James 1:17 where God talks about the source of all good things.


Madonna and I were born in the same hospital in Bay City, Michigan



Just saw Madonna's half-time show from the Super Bowl and I wonder if she gets her magnetic attraction and entertainment abilities from where she was born, Bay City, Michigan.

It's a gateway town right at the bottom of the Saginaw Bay where travelers stop on their way Up North.

It's a feisty place that gained its foothold in history as a logging town that grew into a manufacturing hub where car plants dominated along with a shipbuilder that made guided missle destroyers still in service.

Go to Wikipedia and look up Guy Lombardo, a famous band leader, and it was in Bay City that he had his race boats made.

I was born at the same hospital as Madonna.  After her birth she and her family moved to the Detroit area. Her dad now has a winery in the Traverse City area.

But she got her start in a town that epitomizes true grit.  


Root Restaurant & Bar in White Lake Township gets top rating for its use of Michigan-grown food

I just spotted this review of the Root Restaurant & Bar in White Lake Township in Oakland County.  It
emphasizes Michigan foods, including shrimp raised in Okemos and prepares them in unique, yet affordable ways.  

What have you heard about this restaurant?  Have you eaten there?  How well does it's Michigan-centric menu work?  It has only Michigan craft-brewed beers.  Check the video portion of the review:



Is the Detroit news media racially biased in its coverage of murders?

Print off this column by the Detroit News' Nolan Finley and pull it out at the dinner table or at the coffee

shop and throw out the question of why murders of white people in the Detroit-area get more coverage than the murders of African Americans.  Is it racism?

Finley raises the question straight up when he writes about the murder of a prominent white woman in the Grosse Pointes and all the continuing coverage that it gets and then looks at the lack of coverage of a 12-year-old black girl who was murdered by a stray bullet.

He makes the point that the suburb right next to Detroit where the white woman was killed had had only one murder in the past two decades and in the city of Detroit, there's almost one every day.  Is it a question of desensitazation to loss of life in the city?  

Pray for U.S. soldiers returning home with brain injuries and post traumatic stress disorder

It's hard to watch this video of a young U.S. Marine who returned home from three tours of duty in Iraq with a brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder.  This Wall Street Journal video shows with great clarity the damage that's done to many who experience the rigors of war.  (Please note:  There's a short commercial at the beginning of the video.)

How can I help?  Only thing I can think of right now is to pray for them.  May the God of the universe who created this world bring them peace and healing.  


Check out what these NFL players in today's Super Bowl have to say about Jesus Christ



In less than twelve hours, we will join the rest of the country and much of the world in watching the New Englland Patriots and New York Giants go at it in the Super Bowl in Indianapolis.  Who are these players? What makes them tick?


Tim Tebow of the Denver Broncos is not the only believer in Jesus Christ.  Check these other players from both teams who talk about their faith and what it means to them.  I'm impressed.  

These guys spend their lives in an occupation where it's not manly to talk about your faith in God.  There's the perception of wild parties with gladiators living it up.  Apparently, it's not true.

What would happen if our political leaders stood up like this and confessed their faith, rather than bleating about what they do and what the other side doesn't do?  That would make an impression.  How would people respond?