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17 posts from July 2012

Rebecca Kiessling tells her story about being conceived in rape

What if Rebecca Kiessling's birth mom had decided to abort her because she was conceived in rape?

Do the circumstances of her conception make her less valuable than somebody who is not?  In this video, she tells her personal story which is a compelling case for life.  

The whole topic is uncomfortable to talk about and produces much emotion without any serious resolution.  This is worth a view.


Read this if you're sitting on your couch or any other place right now

It's almost ten o'clock in the evening here and I feel like I should go out for a walk or that I should do something like cut the lawn.  Why?

Check out this study from BMJ Open online journal which found that sitting down for more than three yours a day can take your life expectancy down by two years.  Tack TV watching for more than two hours a day can exacerbate you can take off another 1.4 years.

At age 65, I wonder how much time, I've given up to spending time on my butt.  

Check this CBS story on the study.

My son figures out the psychology of craft show browsing

My son and his wife spent this past weekend at a major craft show in the northwest held in Seattle. She has a company--Umba Box--that sends the best of the handmade stuff for women and sends to them every month on a subscription basis.  It has received a ton of publicity and is becoming popular around the country.

2012-07-09_0752This past weekend she had a booth at the Seattle show where crafters strutted their stuff.  Umba Box drew a crowd.  Justin was there to help.  He observed those who passed by and those who stopped at the booth.

He noticed a pattern with people walking by the booth and it centered around how far they walked from the booth.

He posted about it in his blog--Oatmeal Stout-Justin Thorp's Blog.  He's a web guy based out of Washington, D.C. and his wife Lauren is full-time with her growing company.  

If you're looking for gifts for a significant other or for yourself, then Umba Box is worth checking out, so is Justin's blog.

Some notes and links for my class using the news to help with English conversation

REMEMBER:  Bring your wi-fi enable laptop to the class and be sure to Register.


Eventbrite - Using U.S. & world news to improve English conversation skills

These are some notes for my class at the Friendship House MSU in East Lansing to help prepare

This is me

them for my class using news stories to help gain competence and confidence with conversational English.  It starts at 6 p.m., this Wednesday, July 11 for four weeks until August 8.  

 News reports are made for conversation in this country.  Start talking about a news story and dinner can be extended another hour because of talk about what's happening in this country and around the world.

You can get tons of conversation practice asking an American about anything from the presidential campaign to MSU football.  

In this class, students will have an opportunity to read news stories and to talk about what they've read.  Most of the news stories will come from the web.  Bring your wi-fi enabled laptop.  

Here are some links to start with:

  1. Links to every online newspaper in the country:  This is from and will take you to every state in the country.  For Internationals who are looking at moving or have friends in other states this can be invaluable.
  2. Newseum link to the daily front pages of more than 800 newspapers around the country.  Check this out.  You can daily scan the front pages from one end of the country to the other.  
  3. Link to, a major news site for information about the U.S. presidential campaign and about the U.S. Congress and government agencies.  This is another site worth checking out
  4. Link to which curates news stories and presents choices as links with a short description.  Some say that its founder Matt Drudge concentrates on news links unfavorable to President Obama
  5. Link to started by Ariana Huffington and followed by many of a more liberal political persuasion.  She's the ex-wife of a former California politician and is active on many news shows
  6. Link to the first HBO episode of The Newsroom with Jeff Daniels.  This is a great new television series about a national network television news anchor and the struggles of he and his people to present the news.  You will hear English conversation that's raw, but still very clear and concise and it's a great story.  

Start your morning with this YouTube video

Thanks to Larry Reed of the Foundation for Economic Education for sharing this on YouTube.  It brought a musical smile to my Sunday morning.

Here's the link:

It's a flashmob playing Beethoven's Jesu Joy of Man's Desire.  Stirring!  I WAS WRONG:  The music, accord to Larry on his Facebook page:

Lawrence Reed This rendition of Beethoven's 9th (which was the unofficial anthem of the liberation of Eastern Europe in 1989) is a tribute to so many wonderful things: love and respect, the human spirit to achieve and inspire, spontaneous order, voluntary and mutually-beneficial interaction, the absence of force, the promise of liberty--to name but a few.


I'm proud to support Walt Sorg and his candidacy for the 67th House District in Michigan


That's me on the left carrying Walt's banner in the July 4th parade in Lansing.

Somebody on Facebook expressed surprise that a conservative like me would support a liberal like Walt Sorg for the Michigan House of Representatives in the 67th District.  

First, I can't actually vote for Walt because he's not in my district, but I would if he was.  Next, let me be completely open about my relationship with him.  I've known him for at least four decades give or take a couple of years.

We have worked together as reporters and on the staff of the Michigan Legislature.  We have socialized and we have helped each other when necessary.  I have seen his ups and downs and he has seen mine.

He knows how to govern and he knows that you need people from the other side to do it.  He listens and he reacts and it's not some phony exercise to create the illusion of communication.  If he disagrees, he'll let you know and he's open for continued conversation.

Walt is open and transparent.  He hasn't tried to hide that he has had bad knees or that he has struggled in keeping his weight down.  He's had financial and health challenges.  He's a real person.

He was there when I needed help cutting a tree down and he was there when I needed a place to stay when I found myself homeless for a week.

What about the philosophical differences?  What are labels worth anymore.  Mitt Romney calls himself a conservative and he was the father of the health plan in his state that President Obama used as a template nationally.  Romney says Obamacare is wrong, but it's the same as Romneycare on the state level.

Relationships are key in politics and I don't even no who's running on the Republican side in the 67th District.  I've seen Walt at every community function I've been at.  He's listening and he's talking.

I'd vote for him if he was in my district, the 68th.

It's too easy to write-off Michigan ballot proposals as "political bullshit"

I would understand if you said your tolerance for "political bullshit" hit full a long time ago and you just want all the television commercials, robocalls and door-to-door to go away.  For much of the time, I'm there myself.  But . . .

I know that I could spend the rest of my time on the political sidelines and instead of reading about ballot proposals and candidates I could read, watch videos and look at pictures of my grandchildren, my grandson, my unborn granddaughter and grandkids yet to come.

But I've made a choice, my grandkids, my kids and my wife are still at the top of the list.  But, as part of that, I know that I have to be involved in the politics of the day in some fashion.

That includes the six ballot proposals that we will probably be asked to vote on.  I want to know the pros and the cons, the who, what, when, where, how and why and, especially, the so-what.

To start out, here's a story by Tim Martin of the Associated Press about the six proposals with bulleted point for each one.  These are important and each one has consequences.  

Don't expect me to start going door-to-door for a candidate, but I feel some involvement coming on.


Who could spit a cherry pit farther, President Obama or Mitt Romney?

This was the first time I ever heard about cherry pit spitting competitions with the international version happening right here in Michigan.

It got me to thinking after reading a story about the competition in the Detroit News about how a contestant one year spit a pit more than 90 feet.  Think about that, the size of the pit and how far that is.  That would be a remarkable feat.

Just how remarkable are our politicians?  How far could they spit a cherry pit.  President Obama?  Mitt Romney?  Members of Congress?  Members of the Michigan Legislature?  City Council?

I think I'm ready to go to Meijers and buy some cherries.  

Is this possible event for the next Olympics?

YOU VOTE: Should it be harder for the Michigan Legislature to raise your taxes?

I've been on a political fast for the past couple of years where I've felt little motivation to get involved or take a position for a variety of reasons.  I'm feeling my attitudes changing.  

My attention was drawn by a piece on the Facebook page for the Michigan League for Human Services where they write about a petition being circulated to allow voters to decide whether 2/3 of the legislaure are needed to increase taxes.  That raises the degree of difficulty to get a tax increase to almost impossible.  

There are pros and cons on this issue and I look forward to seeing them presented and argued.

Here's a start:

  1. An Action Alert from the Michigan League for Human Services warning how such a limitation could cripple public advances in our state
  2. Michigan Alliance for Prosperity Website  which is the sponsoring group behind the petitions.  A cursory glance of the site doesn't show who its sponsor are.
  3. An mLive newstory about the effort to increase the number of lawmakers required to pass an increase.

Can you connect to your unknown past through movies like "People Like Us?"

People like usSuper-wife escaped the hundred plus temperatures of yesterday and the searing sun by going to the movies where we saw "People Like Us."  I was pleasantly surprised.  It was about a guy who reconnects with family and connects with a sister he never knew he had.

Lots of pretty people in it like Michelle Pfeiffer and others.  The storyline touch a nerve in me, kind of like connecting the wrong terminals on a car battery.  Maybe not that extreme.  But, it produced a few sparks of thought and memory.

What's it like to discover that your dad had a whole another family or in some cases families?

The main character in this movie discovered that he had a half-sister that his dad had kept silent about.  He had to come to grips with a lot of issues involving himself and his family.  That's not always an easy task.  

I often think about my (half) sister who I never met.  She died in the country of Cyprus.  I don't know a whole lot more than that.  I did see a picture of her as an adult.  I saw her death certificate written in Greek which I can read a little.

Walking out of the theater, I wondered who would play my mother in a movie.  Probably not Pfeiffer.


Tom Greene, former Michigan State Capitol reporter, deserves to be remembered for a lot of reasons

I remember when I was a very young reporter at the Michigan Capitol and Tom Greene introduced himself.  He was a big shot television correspondent for a Detroit station and he took time to take an interest in me.

It wasn't a phony insincere interest.  He always asked me about my single-mom in Bay City, especially when she got sick.  He made me feel like a real person of worth.  I guess you'd call it respect.

He died last night after many years of health challenges.  He deserves to be remembered for the big role that he played in Michigan government and politics.  He and his crew, first Larry and Art, an then others helped to keep our politicians and officials honest.  Tom could sniff out impropriety and he wasn't afraid to go after it.  And his station would run it.

His stories are legend and I'm sure forgotten by a younger crew of journalists.  

If there was a journalists Hall of Fame, he'd belong in it.  He left a big footprint on this state and I'd hate to see it get filled in by the sands of time.

Beer drinkers tweet more than church members in Michigan

Are Michigan churches missing an opportunity to get their word out by not using Twitter?

Check this recent study of Twitter use in Michigan reported in mLive to see if resident tweeters write more about beer or church.  It's beer.

Are pastors and church members missing a chance to go where people hangout?  In Twitter groups.

Jackson County (MI) Sheriff uses Facebook picture to nab bank robber

This story from Lansing's WLNS TV is one more proof that Facebook is where lots of people hangout and its where you need to go if you want to catch people's attention.

An example, a twenty-something guy robbed a credit union in Jackson and got away.  But the sheriff put the picture from the surveillance camera at the bank up on Facebook.  Within 12 hours there were enough leads to get the guy.

There's a lesson here for anybody trying to get attention for something.


Facebook robber
This is surveillance camera picture published on Facebook.


I don't hear or read anything about "brownouts" in Michigan because of the heat


Front door
Looking out our front door as the temps begin to climb this morning.

Maybe I missed it, but I haven't read or heard anything about our plants in Michigan generating electricity getting near maximum capacity during this high heat and constant consumption of air conditioners.  


You would think that the unrelenting triple digit heat would street local electric producers.  But, a quick check of online news shows no mention of that possibility in mid-Michigan.

Today is supposed to be a record-breaker in Lansing with weather forecasters last night predicting that temps should reach 105.  

Walking through our neighborhood on the southwest side of the city, you hear a lot of AC running.  

Anybody hearing talk of brownouts?