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19 posts from August 2017

My son, son-in-law, another friend and me know that prayer changes things

Ken Alexander
Ken, a member of our prayer group.

The four of us guys have been getting together online to pray together for almost a year now.  We use a free app from Oracle called Zoom which allows us all to meet together using video.  We know that prayer changes things, especially us.  

What do we pray about?  Young kids who don't sleep through the night.  Sick kids.  Praise for all kinds of answered prayer.  Challenges that come from moving, changing jobs, starting a new school and getting older.

Would I recommend it for other guys?  Yes. Yes and yes.

Adam Jones.
My son-in-law Adam.
Justin Thorp
My son Justin prays with his hands.

On my 71st birthday, I'm not getting older, I'm just getting riper


I just spent a half hour looking at short video clips on the AARP website about aging and about their new focus attached to the hashtag #disruptaging.

In less than an hour, our house will be filled with activity with three grandkids and our daughter and son-in-law.  At some point, we will light up the carrot cake above where everybody including my son and family in Missouri will sing happy birthday over FaceTime.  Then tomorrow will come when I know I'll have to recalibrate my thinking about my aging.

My wife and I joined AARP earlier this year because of the discounts.  In the process of pawing through their website, I ran into their focus on disrupting thinking about getting older.  I'm attracted to what it has to say.  Makes sense and it's an encouragement.

Meanwhile, I'm getting ready for a seven-year-old grandson who wants to blow up a bottle of dietCoke using Mentos, a 15 month old grandson who's in continual motion and an almost five-year-old granddaughter who has a curiosity that keeps her reading and asking questions.  

With my birthday in a couple of days, I've learned a lot in the last 71 years


My dad and i when I was a newborn.
My dad and I when I was brought home from the hospital in 1946.


I was born a few minutes after midnight in 1946 in Bay City, Michigan about a year after the end of World War II.  My birthday is in two days and I've been trying to wrap my head around my age with the full knowledge that the sands in my hour glass are getting few and fewer and are moving faster and faster.

I've had days where I wish I could rejoin the workforce to give my life more meaning and purpose.  I looked for it in volunteer service, like being an in-prison volunteer, working with international students at MSU and delivering Meals On Wheels in our old neighborhood in Lansing.  My wife and I have travelled some and have passports with some fun stamps.  

But there's still a gnawing that I haven't rung the right bell yet in my senior citizen experience.  

As I look over the past decades, I go back to a constant question.  So what?  I've pulled out pictures and mementos from the past and I ask myself about what difference did I make in each of these activities I was involved with.  What did I learn?  Did I learn anything worth passing onto others?  

Can anything I've learned be used as a teaching tool?  Do you have any teaching tools from your life experience?



In East Lansing, we got a taste of Amazon's new prices as new owner of Whole Foods


Whole Foods bananas.
Check prices on these Whole Food bananas on the day after Amazon assumed ownership of the grocery chain.



We've been to Whole Foods in East Lansing a couple of times, but would not fit the profile of a typical buyer at the food chain that's known for its heavy-duty prices and organic and non-GMO merchandise.   

We went today right after lunch to check the effect of its new owners-Amazon-on prices and food stuffs.  There's been plenty of media hoopla about special deals for Amazon Prime members and other evidence of the new owner getting ready to make its mark at Whole Food.  These iPhone pictures give a sample of what we found.


Whole Food corn on the cob.
Eighty cents a cob for Whole Food corn. How does that compare to stores in your area?




Whole Food cucumbers.
Check the new price on Whole Food cucumbers.



Dragon's Milk craft beer.
Eight bucks for a bottle of Dragon's Milk, a Michigan craft beer.



Have you ever taken your grandkids on a hot air balloon ride?

About a mile-and-a-half immediately north of us, is a privately-owned sports park that we had only driven by, but never been to.  We changed that last night when we attended a Balloon Festival where more than a dozen hot air balloons were launched.  

There were hundreds of people watching to paid $10 a car to get in the park where you could plant a lawn chair and watch.

We loved it and we learned a lot about a sport that excels at being visual.  Check the bottom photo where behind the trees is a balloon that appears to be descending into the southside of Lansing.

Would we take our grandkids up in a balloon?  Not til they're older, a lot older.  Then we'll probably be too old.







Michigan Republicans need to go back to school on how to effectively govern this state

liScreenshot 2017-08-25 09.31.36

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by the Michigan Republican insults at Democrats on a variety of bumper stickers that the state GOP is trying to peddle through e-mail.  Is it right for them to do this?

For the Christian Right in the party where in the Bible does it give permission to besmirch the name and views of somebody?  Is that okay with God?

Right now when the country is so divided and tottering on the edge of being ungovernable, you'd think barbs would be aimed at policy and not people.  This should be done too without insult.  

Is that impossible?

I've picked Founders "Green Zebra" watermelon beer for my 71st birthday

Founders Green Zebra beer
I turn 71 next week and I picked Founders Green Zebra for my birthday party. It's made from watermelon and sea salt

I'm a member of the first class of baby-boomers and I turn 71 next Thursday-August 31- and I've picked my beer to celebrate.  It's from Founders from Grand Rapids and it's called Green Zebra made with watermelon and sea salt.  Packaging describes it as a Gose Style Ale.  Anybody familiar with it?

Responding to Trump and his Charlottesville remarks: What would Jesus do?

This is me.

Is this a good time to ask the question:  What would Jesus do?

I'm sickened by what President Trump said about the Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and other hate groups.  He doesn't represent me and a whole lot of other people in their thinking about people who look different than them and who come from different ethnic backgrounds.

In my mind, it all comes back to Jesus Christ and the life he lived.  First, Jesus was a Jew.  Do the white power types know this?  Yet many of them call themselves Jesus followers.  How do they explain that?

In the past there used to be uniting figures who could bring people of all types together.  One was Billy Graham, a world famous evangelist whose son Franklin has assumed leadership of his ministry.  But, it should be noted that he is an unabashed supporter of Trump.  

What's next for this country?  Does Trump need to step down?

This country needs to cleanse itself from this evil way of thinking and acting.

What would Jesus do?

A reminder as conversations about politics gets even more nasty

Be strong- not rude

I used to enjoy talking politics with friends and relatives and just about anybody else.  I viewed the governmental process as something imperfect, but workable in the effort to govern a group of diverse people.  Not anymore.  How about you?

These days, it doesn't take long for a conversation about politics to deteriorate into a very heated session of name-calling and acrimony.  Some Christians are heard telling another believer in Jesus that they are not really saved if you don't support Trump.  

And when many of them hear that I'm a former newspaper reporter and that I ended my career by working in politics, they start belittling me and the various jobs I held.

It's hard to resist the temptation to  verbally fireback at people I've gone to church with or whom I am related to or grew up with.

That's why I saved this quote from Zig Ziglar as published on FaceBook.  For me personally, it's a reminder.  Political discourse won't get any easier.  It seems like it will only get meaner and nastier.  How do we reduce the level of heat?



I can barely understand what my wife is saying on the other end of the couch


The couch in our living room isn't really that big, but when I'm sitting on one end and my wife on the other I have trouble understanding what she's saying.  It's been that way for awhile.  I experience the same thing with my grandkids.  

I was getting tired of saying "what was that?"  And they get frustrated in having to repeat themselves.  That's why I went to America's store--Amazon-- for a possible solution.

If sound amplifiers  are hearing aids, they have plenty.  The challenge is reading through all the information and familiarizing myself with the issues.  

Using the bonus from my Discover card, I paid for most of a teeny amplifier.  It came today.  It's in my right ear. So far, it seems to be working.

The test will be in the days ahead with everyday living, including some couch conversations and some television shows.

I will report back in the days ahead.

Have you ever known Mrs. Butterworth's first name?




As Michigan continues its flow of homegrown blueberries, plenty of breakfast tables will be filled with pancakes.  What kind of syrup do you put on yours?  From the time I was a kid, I remember Mrs. Butterworth on the table.  Until this morning, when we had our first blueberry pancakes of the year, I never wondered if she had a first name.  She does.  It's "Joy."  Now you know.

What do you put on your pancakes?  Syrup?  What kind?  


Fifties "Rock and Roll" comes to Holt, Michigan outdoor concert-do you know his name?

This outdoor concert in our new town-Holt, Michigan-was fun, free and close.  Parking was easy and free too.  So we went to Veteran's Memorial bandshell in this small enclave just south of Lansing.  

Here's the rub:  I don't remember the name of the group or this lead singer.  The concert was fun and it was loud and was attended by lots and lots of baby-boomers.  The lead singer was incredibly energetic with a voice to match.  However, I didn't catch the name of the group or the singer.  Anybody know what it is?

Their performance was the last for the summer.  There's still Friday night outdoor movies.  We might try one.  

Casey Neistat, prominent YouTuber and new CNN news show developer, says yes to the movie Dunkirk

My wife and I saw the movie Dunkirk this past weekend and really enjoyed it.  We were captivated as we watched it on the IMAX screen.  It's a piece of World War II history that neither of us had knowledge about.  Check out this review of the movie by Casey Neistat, a prominent YouTuber who's masterminding a news show for millennials on CNN.  His review is worth a watch.

One of my favorite breakfasts is Michigan blueberries on top of oatmeal


Michigan blueberries in all their glory.
Michigan blueberries from Country Mill Orchard in Charlotte



Look in our basement freezer and you'll see plastic bags filled with Michigan blueberries.  This winter they will be little nuggets of tasteful joy on our oatmeal and various desserts and even in salads.  That's why we went yesterday to Country Mill Orchard just outside of Charlotte and bought 10 pounds of berries that they had picked.  It's three dollars a pound if they pick  and two if you pick.

Just so you know, Michigan is the number one blueberry producing state in the country, according to the Michigan Department of Agriculture.  Other blueberry facts:

  • Michigan leads the nation in growing blueberries and produces more than 30 different varieties
  • Michigan blueberries are grown, harvested and processed by 600 family farms
  • Michigan blueberry production value was reported at $122.7 million in 2013
  • Allegan, Berrien, Muskegon, Ottawa and Van Buren counties comprise the state’s primary blueberry growing region
  • In 2013, 47 million pounds of Michigan blueberries were produced for fresh use while 67 million pounds were produced for processing
  • Michigan has almost 21,000 acres devoted entirely to blueberries
  • Half of the blueberry acreage in Michigan is more than 40 years old, some plantings dating back to the 1930s!
  • Michigan yields an average of 5,000 pounds of blueberries per acre



Blueberries drying.
My wife lets the blueberries dry before putting them in plastic bags.



Is sin the cause of all our problems in this country and around the world?


How will our country and the rest of the world solve all the bad stuff that's happening these days?

The list of bad stuff happening right around us is long.  Perhaps, it's a daughter bludgeoned to death by a boyfriend.  What about an old man stomped to death during a road rage incident?  There's shooting in our streets.  There are politicians who can't see beyond their own nose.  Think about all the stuff that makes you want to reach for a drink from the bottle of Fireball whiskey in your liquor cabinet.

Look at Washington D.C. and all the people who love President Trump and those who hate him.  Think about all the angry name-calling over political issues that has divided families and friends.  Then there's Russia and North Korea and a long list of other countries pointing their index finger at us.

What's the explanation and what's the answer for all this?

Christians say it's "sin."  Well, how do you get rid of it.  Is it just a matter of obeying God's commandments?  Are we capable of doing that?

Check the above definition of sin from the Book of Concord, a collection of documents drafted during the Protestant Reformation.  The religious establishment wanted to know the principles of the reformers and this is what they came up with.

Sin is a disease and it can be terminal.  How do you get rid of it?  

Beautiful jewelry coming from the shards of glass and pottery leftover from the 2011 Japanese tsunami


Necklace from tsunami wreckage
This beautiful necklace was made from a shard of glass or pottery leftover from the Japanese tsunami in 2011



I was reading today's devotion from Our Daily Bread which was introduced by a story about Japanese women affected by the 2011 tsunami who lost family, friends and homes.  I was caught by what they were doing and how they were turning a dramatic disaster into hope.  I googled it and learned more about the beauty coming out of this tragic loss.

These women combed through the wreckage looking for pieces of glass from pottery like platters, coffee cups and stuff like that.  They took the pieces, ground and cut them and then fashioned them into beautiful jewelry pieces.  The effort is called the Nozomi Project.  This link tells about the effort and shows the results of their effort.  This YouTube video tells more.



Question: How much milk does the average cow produce in one day?


I didn't see any milk cows at the Ingham County (MI) yesterday. Just these. I missed seeing the milkers.


When we go to the Meijers in Mason every week, it's hard to not notice how low the price of milk is getting.  There are days where you only have to pay $1.69 for a gallon.  That thought came to my mind yesterday when my wife and I went to the Ingham County Fair yesterday  and walked through the animal barns.  Cows are big and they must be expensive to keep.

That sent me to Google to find out how much milk the average cow produces in a day.  

I found this from the University of Arkansas:

Most dairy cows are milked two to three times per day. On average, a cow will produce six to seven gallons of milk each day. A cow that is milking eats about 100 pounds each day of feed, which is a combination of hay, grain, silage and proteins (such as soybean meal), plus vitamins and minerals.

How do farmers make a profit when prices are that low?  Are there government subsidies?  Just curious.