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February 2014

15 posts from January 2014

They must think that I need to start planning my funeral?


Funeral director direct mail solicitation.
I'm on this funeral director's mailing list.

If you're an older baby-boomer has the nature of your junk mail changed?  It has for me.  A few years ago, I started getting mail from hearing aid dealers, regular offers from AARP and various retirement homes.

Today, I got a shout-up in the mail from a local funeral home trying to get my business when I pass over to the next life.  They want me to be ready.  The mail included a sales letter along with their contact information.

As a 67-year-old old baby-boomer, do I see the need to have a funeral director and funeral arrangements in my life?  No.  I'm in reasonably good health and I have items left to do on my "to-do" list.  However, I realize that life's direction can turn on a dime and I need to be aware.  

That junk mail today from one of the local undertakers, did that.  It made me more aware.

I'm saving song about the Third Street Bridge in Bay City for my grandkids

I was born and raised in Bay City, Michigan, a small town at the bottom of the Saginaw Bay which leads to Lake Huron.  My memories from there center around the Saginaw River and all the bridges that crossed it.

As a kid I grew up just down the street from the really old two lane Belinda Street Bridge.  It was a place for new drivers to sharpen their precision steering skills, especially during the winter.

The other swinging bridge was the Thrid Street Bridge, a little farther up the river, which fell into the river one day all by itself during a time when no people or cars were on it.

A Facebook friend found and shared this ballad to the Thrid Street Bridge.  The song tells the story.   Anybody who has crossed this bridge, it will bring back meories.  It's a touchpoint to the past.

Super-wife and I have enrolled in the "school of contentment"

Jeff Manion's new book on contentment
This is the textbook for our "school of contentment"

There are certain things keeping super-wife and me from being really contented.  I see one of them everytime I look out our living room window this morning and see the deep Michigan gray and when I think of round two of the polar vortex coming tonight which will bring single-digit temps.

Sometime during the day today one of us will talk about how nice it would be to live in Florida where on the coldest day a light jacket would be sufficient.  And if your local utility has a power outage, your main concern is about humidity.  Life would be so much more comfortable, we like to think.

Those kinds of thoughts that seem to permeate lots of life areas are the topic of a series of sermons at our church by Jeff Manion, our pastor.  Today is lesson one and there will be homework and projects.

There's a textbook--Satisfied, Discovering Contentment in a World of Consumption.  He wrote it in a way that's incredibly relevant to everyday life.  


This afternoon's power outage in Lansing, Michigan gave me an adrenaline rush that I hadn't asked for


This is my phone being recharged this afternoon.


I was on Facebook this afternoon for a few minutes when I saw the first post  that the Lansing Police Department was scurrying to respond to a power outage in several key areas of the State Capital city.  It read like a repeat of the power outage during Christmas week where many people suffered through more than a week of darkness and cold.

My first reaction was "oh crap, it's happening again."  Without word from the Lansing Board of Water and Light, our local utility, there's no sense of how wide the problem is or how long it will last.  

It's a bad feeling to wonder if our water pipes could take another session of freezing temperatures and whether we could find a place to stay if we lost power.  

My first instinct was to go for my phone and other devices to make sure that they had a charge.  This proved really important a few weeks ago.  Then we went to a coffee shop to find news and to check and send emails.  

Today, while this was happening, word about this flowed through Facebook with friends reporting about what they were experiencing or what they had heard.  That helped.

Apparently, people are having their power restored.  I'm not ready for this to happen again.

There needs to be a full explanation from Mayor Virg Bernero on down to explain to the people what happened and how it can be prevented.  Many might agree that it's time for changes to be made at the top levels of management for those who were decision-makers.  


What I'm reading today, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014

Here's a summary of what I'm reading on the web today:

  1. Gallup polls show that record number of Americans identify themselves as independents, rather than Republican or Democrat.  What does this mean for our political parties?  Why are more people dropping party label, but partisanship seems to be rising?
  2. Hitler's Mein Kampf on best-seller lists for Amazon's Kindle.  According to the story, the famous book about the Nazi movement and it's leader sold few copies as a hardback.  But as an e-book, sales are soaring.
  3. Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey responds to e-mails released showing that his top staff manipulated traffic lanes on a Fort Lee bridge to create a monumental traffic jam as retribution to it Democratic mayor.  How transparent will he be in disclosing what he knows?
  4. Snow-shoveling rules in the city of Lansing and Jackson go back into effect after big storm.  After the city of Lansing was slammed by a brutal ice storm and snow storm that shutdown mid-Michigan for more than three days, snow shoveling rules go back into effect.  Note that this story, says sidewalks and DRIVEWAYS must be cleared.
  5. Cooley Law School professor and retired general appointed by Mayor Virg Bernero to lead investigation into the response of the Lansing Board of Water & Light to the recent ice storm which left much of Lansing and nearby area in the dark.  The outcry against the board's response seems to be growing.
  6. Consumers Energy and DTE, two private utilities in Michigan that were affected by the recent ice storm will have their actions scrutinized by the Michigan Public Service Commission.  They have until Feb. 7 to respond to a list of PSC questions.  Has anybody got a link to the questions?
  7. New York Times tells story of a family in Las Vegas where there's a husband with four wives and 17 children.  It raises the questions of whether polygamy will be the next frontier to expand the definition of marriages and families.  The featured family in the story has a reality television show "Sister Wives."

Could Dylan Ratigan of MSNBC be right about the United States having a bought U.S. Congress?

When you have time this is worth a look.  It's Dylan Ratigan of MSNBC talking about why Washington, D.C. is getting us mired in a morrass of partisanship and impotence.  After the expected snowstorm today and tomorrow, I'm going to watch it again.  

He says we have a "bought" Congress.  It all revolves around money in politics.  It's hard to rebut.  

But could the over-arching problem be character, that of the members of Congress and the people who elected them?


Paramount Coffee in Lansing brings fine, flavored coffee to the world


Holiday flavored coffee
Half-price holiday-flavored coffee from Paramount Coffee in Lansing

A cup of flavored coffee and the holidays go hand in hand for many people.  The city of Lansing has one of the best bean roasters in the country, Paramount Coffee.  We just bought several bags of their Christmas flavors at half-price.  We got the shipment this morning.

We've moved beyond Thanksgiving's pumpkin pie, but we can still remember it with pumpkin spice flavored coffee.  And then there's the various pepermint stick varieties.  It's not syrupy, sweet flavored coffee.  It's a flavor which easily registers on your palette and brings a coffee smile to your day.

LANSING ICE STORM: We our six-pack of Samuel Adam Cherry Wheat in the john

Cold beer in our john.
It was so cold in our john during the ice storm that we kept a six-pack cold there.

It's not our practice to keep beer or wine cold in our bathroom.  But during the recent Lansing, Michigan ice storm some how this "Sam Adams" got stuck in my home office here.  It stayed cold during the four days the power was out.  Where did you keep your beer cold during the outage.

We did lose some food from our freezer and our fridge.  We were lucky.  I know many people lost a lot more.  

Check the shower curtain with the world map.  Great way to learn your countries and where they are at.

I wonder if they'll serve Rice Krispie Treats in heaven


Rice krispie treats
Gladys posted this picture on Instagram today. She made Rice Krispie Treats.

My wife knows that I like everything she cooks, the meat loaf, all the veggies, the hot dogs, the Boca Burgers, the Black Bean burgers and a long list of other gems.  Today, she made one of my all time favorites, Rice Krispie Treats.  

I love their taste, the cruch and their smell.  She started making them when our kids were really small. They loved them and eating them was always an occasion.

When we watch the Rose Bowl tonight, we will have a Rice Krispie Treat when we watch Michigan State University play in the big game.  We have even found a wine to go with them, Great Lakes Red.

You still have time to make them before the game.  Use this link for a how-to.

Grandchild #3--It's official that Justin and his wife Lauren are expecting a baby in July

The ten degree weather outside can't take away our smiles with the announcement by my son Justin Thorp and his wife Lauren who shared that they are having a baby in July.

Super-wife and I are looking at re-adjusting our walls to accomodate all the pictures from a new grandchild along with our grandson and granddaughter.  Here's the announcement:

New thorp baby

QUESTION: Do you use your smartphone or tablet more than your personal computer?

I'm using my iPhone to do more and more on the web. You?

It's a big fat cliche to mention how fast the web and computers are changing.  The changes happen so fast that it's easy to miss them.  It's that or you get lost with the next transition.  

What's next?  What's in the future?  Well, it's happening right now with your smartphones and tablets.  It's commonly referred to as the mobile web.  

Check what Eric Schmidt, one of the big guns at Google, has to say about this change:

"The trend has been that mobile was winning. It's now won," he said in the interview. "There are more tablets and phones being sold than personal computers. People are moving to this new architecture very fast." For that reason, he believes we will see a "new generation of applications" emerge to fill changing needs for entertainment, social networking and more.

This affects everybody.  It's a change in what tools are used to consume information and it is changing communications habits.  It's here and it won't go away.

Would the city of Lansing, Michigan be ready for a major snow blizzard this year?


Snowblowing my driveway during a 2005 snowstorm.
Lansing has gotten major snowstorms like this one in 2005 where mobility was almost impossible.

 My wife raised the question while we were sitting on our couch talking about the recent ice storm in the Lansing and Mid-Michigan area.  We are thankful that we had mobility where we could go to coffeeshops, restaurants and motels.  

We could tend to our house during the day with occasional forays for errands or just to get warm.  But, then we started thinking about what still could come this year--a major snow blizzard where all movement stops and where power could be lost too.  These do happen every few years in our part of the state and if you're not prepared, then you're in trouble.

I raise this question after reading the story about the final release of the Lansing Board of Water & Lights emergency plan.  At first, they said, it didn't exist, then they said it did and refused to release it and now after a lot of pressure, they released it.

After reading this mLive story, I'm concerned about future weather disasters in the city.  The BW&L plan looks like it was put together a few years ago while executives were talking at lunch.  I'm not impressed that they're on the top of their game or even in it.

Are you ready for the next big snowstorm?  Another power outage?  For no mobility either by foot or by car?

I'm not sure the city of Lansing is ready?  Should the questions be asked before it happens?