Has medical marijuana been a good or bad thing for Michigan's State Capital city, Lansing?

Marijuana billboard
These billboards could be seen throughout Lansing this past year

What about medical marijuana in the city of Lansing?

Marijuana shops dominate the city's landscape, particularly the south side.  After more than a half decade the city passed an ordinance to regulate this growing industry to sell a substance that many say is harmless and has medicinal qualities.  Others say, it's a gateway to addiction.

Depending on who you talk to the city has had between 75 to 100 dope stores where "weed" can be purchased legally with a card from the state of Michigan which has to be endorsed by a physician.  

Attempts by the Lansing City Council to regulate it have been feeble at best.  A new ordinance is being challenged by advocates for the stores.

Where does this all stop?  Will the local political inertia continue in the direction of more and more shops?  Will there ever be a realistic discussion about what this all means for the city and this region of central Michigan?

Because of a lack of leadership on this issue, Lansing is becoming harder and harder to take seriously as a well-governed city.  

The above billboard shows what Lansing has turned into.  It has moved from being the home of Oldsmobile to the marijuana capital.



Q & A about two senior citizens pulling up stakes to move into a condo



Memorial Day Parade in Holt, Michigan.
We live in a small town where there was actually a Memorial Day parade yesterday. This doesn't show the crowds of people. My wife is in the foreground.



My wife and I were sitting on the couch in our living room of our old house a year ago talking about the next chapter in our lives.  We are both senior citizens.  I'm 70 and my wife is four years younger.  Our nest had been empty for quite awhile in our paid off house in the middle of a somewhat quiet urban neighborhood.

We had considering buying a house near Grand Rapids.  Real estate there was way too expensive.  We ruled out Florida and we even thought about moving closer to our kids.  

Then while sitting on the couch talking about renting an AirBNB in Hell's Kitchen in New York City and epiphany hit us.  What about looking at condos in the outlying areas of Lansing.  We weighed it carefully.  A requirement for our new place was space to have special family occasions where our five grandkids and their parents can fit.  And we wanted a place that we could leave for extended periods of time.

Our goal was to sell our city house and get enough to buy a condo in essentially a swap of funds.  We talked to a Realtor friend familiar with our house who encouraged us to take a few months to get the house ready and then list it in February just as people were looking for houses.  And that's what we did.  We expected to have a few showings over the coming months with maybe a nibble of interest.  What happened?  We got a very friendly offer within three days.

Over last fall and winter, we had purged many carloads of stuff and took it to Goodwill and we threw out a lot.  We also set a lot of stuff on the curb where it was picked up within a half hour.

How have we made the adjustment to the far end of a bedroom community where you go down the road and there's a dairy farm?

Question #1--What's it like living in a condo on the outskirts of Michigan's State Capital City?  Have we had any regrets about leaving our home of 18 years and moving to a place where they cut your lawn and take care of most outside stuff?

Answer #1--We really like our new place.  To find it, our Realtor had to show us about 15 condos.  We had to

Continue reading "Q & A about two senior citizens pulling up stakes to move into a condo" »

Marijuana merchants have invaded Michigan's Capital City


Marijuana billboard in Lansing.
Is the new symbol for Lansing, Michigan's State Capitol, a marijuana plant?



Drive around Lansing, Michigan's State Capital City, and you will be greeted by these billboards all over town.  They made a statement about a once proud city ceding its identity as a major role player in the auto industry and state government to a drug that's still outlawed by the federal government and many state governments.  

Marijuana shops dominate the southend of town with some counting as many as 70 to 100.  And it's completely unregulated.  The stores are also located near stores and schools and nobody seems to care.  

If marijuana has so many medicinal qualities, why isn't it sold through a pharmacy?  Are there health downsides to using the drug?  Right now, you have to apply and purchase a card from the state saying that you need the substance for you health.  How long before you can buy "weed" at a gas station?"

Anybody have a problem with any of this?

OLD PHOTOS: Working with three of my journalistic heroes from the 1970s, Bob Berg, Don Hoenshell and Tom Ochiltree


A reporters' panel.
During a conference in the early 70s I participate on a panel with Berg (left), Ochiltree (second from the right) and Hoenshell.

 I'm sure that there aren't many who remember Panax Newspapers which was based out of Williamston, Michigan and started by an entrepreneur named John McGoff.  He started with a handful of daily and weekly newspapers in the state and turned it into a media company with a worldwide reach.  

For a few years, I worked in their State Capitol Bureau in Lansing.  Because communications technology in the early 1970s was limited to a telephone back then, our product was mainly columns where the time element had a longer shelf life.

During that time I worked with some incredible reporters at the company.  Bob Berg was the bureau chief.  He was the former bureau chief for United Press International at the Capitol and then went to Panax and from there became press secretary to Detroit Mayor Coleman Young.  He was a great teacher and friend.  

Don Hoenshell was the news director for the company.  He knew journalism and he loved reporting and writing.  He always treated those younger than him with respect.  He freely shared what he knew.

In Washington, D.C. was Tom Ochiltree who was an old school journalist who was there when Russian President Nikita Krushev took off his shoe and pounded the table with it during a meeting with Richard Nixon.  He was filled with stories while having an insatiable curiosity.



Panax Backgrounder
The four of us promo'd in a company publication.



We continue to get our Lansing, Michigan house ready for the market

Great house for family with kids
Our piles for Goodwill are getting smaller as we get ready to put our house on the market

We live in a very nice residential enclave on the southwest side of Lansing.  We have four bedrooms, a finished basement and plenty of updates that make life more pleasant.  It's perfect for a family with kids or for a couple with grandkids nearby.

Sometime next month, we will put it on the market.  Our realtor has given us a good price range that will make it attractive to a buyer and that will give us what we need to make our next downsized move.

Our two kids grew up here.  They are both adults and live in other states with their families.  

Interested?  Leave a comment.  I'll keep you informed.

Drinking Leelanau's Witches brew from our Starbucks mugs on the front porch


A selfie with my wife.

It was warm enough to take a selfie with my wife while waiting for "trick and treaters."


 We had about 80 "trick or treaters" in our Lansing neighborhood tonight.  The kids were extraordinarily polite and most had parents with them.  How do you manage sitting on the front porch in mid-Michigan on the very last day of October?  It's not a mind-numbing cold, but it leaves an impression after an hour.

While shopping at our Meijers yesterday, we picked up a bottle of Witches Brew from Leelanau Wine Cellars in Traverse City.  This spice wine is best when hot and after two minutes, it has an aroma that talks to your nostrils and a taste that distracts you from the cold air while you're sitting barefooted on the porch.

All-in-all Halloween 20016 was a success.  There were lots of little kids who were old fashioned cute and there were a lot of dads with them.

Now it's time for me to go to my Instagram Direct and see how my five grandkids living in other states celebrated the occasion.



Our Halloween candy.
No chocolate candy bars at our house.


Our street had plenty of "trick and treaters."
While sitting on our front porch, we saw a steady stream of kids.


I'd recommend Witches Brew.
Witches Brew kept us warm tonight.



Are city of Lansing voters tiring of incumbent Mayor Virg Bernero?

Mayor Virg Bernero
Mayor Virg Bernero


Is the city of Lansing getting tired of incumbent Mayor Virg Bernero?  He's been mayor for a decade and has been known as America's angriest mayor.  There's increasing noise coming from voters about his combative attitude towards them and issues they're concerned about.

Two items which hint at voter displeasure:

What does all this mean?  Is this evidence that voters are seriously unhappy with the Bernero administration?


Was the snow in mid-Michigan a few minutes ago some kind of sign?


It's still spitting snow here in the heart of mid-Michigan on Sunday, May 15.  We had just gotten up looked out the window and saw the snow coming down hard.  It even stuck on our deck.  What does that mean?  A sign from God?  Move to Florida or just a fluke.  Probably the latter.  But it's worth marking down and remembering for the next family dinner.


Snowing in May.
Here's the evidence about snow on May 15.

Lansing, Michigan needs to raise an army to bring positive change


I've been to more than my share of meetings where people got together to work towards making our city a better place to live.  These included our neighborhood, our side of town and others.  Some seemed really positive for a while and then the hope they produced disappeared like the fog being burned off by the sun.

Our city government, including the city council and the mayor, seem to be drifting.  Lots of cliches are thrown around, but there doesn't seem to be a clear vision drawing people together to move change.

What about raising up an army?  Yes, I'm serious.  If people want to raise our city out of the muck and mire of the politics of insult and bickering, then we need to raise up an army for change.  As a recipe on how to do this, I recommend this article by a young woman who seems to have her finger on doing this in the age of social media and millennials.

Here's a quote:

Today, in an age that’s increasingly mobile, the most important organizing model isn’t an audience, but an army. By army, I mean harnessing a network of people to organize action, develop skills and ultimately take on a mission. In an army, people assume different roles depending on their commitment, engagement or skills — all things an audience alone cannot.

Interested.  Read this.  If we don't move towards real change, then things will stay the same and get worse.  The author is Gina Bianchini and she's organized an army of change for women at mightybells.com



My wife catches me in the act of snow blowing

Today is the day after a big snow storm in Michigan.  We got near a foot of snow here in Michigan's State Capital City.  Very little is moving in our neighborhood.  It was time to pull out my Honda snowblower which had a few challenging moments pushing through the wet stuff.

I wonder how many Michigan snowbirds in Florida really miss the snow, the ice and the power outages.


We just got in from our one mile RunKeeper walk before Winter Storm "Al" hits


A selfie with Gladys.
A selfie right after we finished our walk in the neighborhood this morning.



With the coming of Winter Storm Al today, we decided to walk early before the snow and ice comes.  Our neighborhood had just become walkable and then the weather changed.  If weather forecasters are right, I should get plenty of exercise today and tomorrow blowing snow.  

Before it accumulates too much, I have to read about taking time lapse videos with my iPhone.  

Has anybody tried that?  How'd it work?

Why Winter Storm Al?  Before they were born, we gave each of our grandkids a codename.  Our daughter Krista is pregnant with a boy.  We started calling him Samson and then we found that he was really a pretty pathetic character.  Not a good name.  Then we changed to Al.  We'll know our new grandson's name in a month or so.

Now it's time to wait for the snow to accumulate.  We are told an inch an hour.

Gas in Lansing, Michigan for $1.59 today-Jan. 15-at this Shell station

Gas for $1.59 per gallon in Lansing.
This was the per gallon price this morning-Jan. 15-at the Shell station on Waverly and Old Lansing Road.

Even though it wasn't convenient to stop at this Shell station on Waverly and Old Lansing Road on the edge of Lansing, I probably should have to fill a half empty gas tank.  This was the price when we drove to the grocery store and two hours later, it was $1.54 a gallon.  Anybody have a lower price?

THROWBACK THURSDAY: Body piercing, Greek stir fry, gas for $3.99 per gallon, my grandkids play with Uncle Wes' doll house



This is the sign at Redeemer Lutheran Church in Lansing, Michigan exactly seven years ago today.  This tiny church changes its signs often with some pithy statement that matches the season or an emphasis in the ministry.  Have you seen any church signs in your area that got your attention?


Stir fry at the Athena Restaurant in Lansing.
One year ago today, my wife and I ate at the Athena Restaurant on the southside of Lansing, Michigan. Stir fry here was great.

My wife and I were out a year ago today and decided to have lunch at the Athena Restaurant in Lansing, the site of the old John's Restaurant where diners ordered by using phones at each booth.  When our kids were young, it was a novelty for them to use the phone.  The meal that we had a year ago was great.

Check the price for gas at this Lansing gas station.
Three years ago today this is what we were paying for gas in Lansing. This is on South Waverly and a station we go to frequently. The price was $3.99 per gallon.

There were months where I felt like I should be an investor in this Shell gas station.  We drive a small car, but filling a tank during this period could get us way too close to $40.

My grandkids play with a doll house made by my Uncle Wes.
Two of my grandkids play with a doll house made by my Uncle Wes Moll, a toymaker. This happened on a Thursday this past September.

My Uncle Wes who I was named after worked most of his life as a gas station operator.  When he retired he became a successful maker of wooden toys.  He made cars, trucks, planes, trains and doll houses.  At Christmas time this past year, two of my grandchildren played with one of his doll houses that he made before he passed away.

This is how I want my grandkids to remember me


If you go into Eagle Monk craft brewery on the southwest side of Lansing, you will find my beer mug on the ceiling. My name is on the bottom.

For my wife and me, this past year has been the "year of family."  We saw a lot of our adult kids who live in different parts of the world and United States and we had a chance to exercise our wings as grandparents.  They range in age from four to six months.

My four-year-old grandson Xavier absorbs everything said and done.  He and I last month took a bottle of dietCoke to our driveway and we put three Mentos in it.  His eyes opened wide when it shot up in the air more than 20 feet.  Will he remember that?  

His two-year-old sister Gretchen is just starting to talk.  I had many conversations with her.  She can count to 10.  My six-month old grandson Miles is taking it all in too.  You can see his little mind processing everything that happens around him.

This brings me to the question of how do I want them to remember me?  

Do I want them to remember me for all the neat places I've been to?  Cuba while it was still closed to Americans?  Deep into the heart of Bamako, Mali which is under threat from extremists?  Haiti after the earthquake?  West Berlin when it was still under the thumb of the communists?

I could point to some jobs I've had and to some interesting and famous people I've met and worked with.

I've thought about it and it's none of those.  As I look over my shoulder at my life, I see my overwhelming need to be close to God.  And I see my sin and how it prevents that from happening.  It has taken me awhile to start really absorbing what Jesus Christ did for me and everybody else when he came to earth, died, rose from the dead and went back into heaven.

He saved me.  I can now have that relationship.  Jesus has made me perfect in God's eyes.  While on earth I'm still under construction.  I'm a  Saved Sinner.  That's the only real worth that I have.  That's my identity and that's how I want my grandkids to remember me.  Pure and simple that's me.

On Lansing's southwest side, gas was $1.99 per gallon late yesterday afternoon


Southwest Lansing gas price
This was the gas price yesterday on the southwest side of Lansing, on the day after Christmas



How are low gas prices affecting your travel during the Christmas season?  

Yesterday while riding home from Best Buy, this was the price at the Shell Station on the southwest corner of Waverly and Old Lansing Road.  Most of the pumps seemed to have cars filling up.

When we go to church tomorow near Lowell, we will fill up.  Gas prices there, according to GasBuddy.com are $1.79 per gallon.  Any guesses about how low prices will go?  This is all positive, right?


Gas prices in Lowell, MI win the prize for us.
These are the lowest gas prices I've seen within a 50 miles radius of us.



All in favor of honoring Satan on the front lawn of the State Capitol raise your hand

I'm stunned by the lack of reaction from Lansing-area churches about the real possibility that a statute to Satan will be erected on the front lawn of the State Capitol next week as part of the Christmas celebration.



As reported today in the Lansing State Journal, satanists in Michigan will erect a statute of Satan next week for several days as their way of celebrating Christmas.  There will be no Nativity scene.  This is because, according to the story, no Christian church has stepped forward to put one up and take it down everyday.  Did anybody know about it?

There has to be boundaries to what is allowed for the celebration of one of the most sacred days of the year for Christians.  Honoring the author of sin and all the vileness of this world is not one of them.  We have war, murders, hunger, poverty, racism, domestic violence and all other forms of trouble because of him.

I'm offended that this is even a possibility at the hub for state government in this state.

Churches need to step up.  We can't allow Jesus to be taken out of Christmas, especially in Lansing and in this state.  We place ourselves in the bullseye for more of Satan's handiwork if we don't act.

Just my opinion.  Anybody agree?

Here's what it looked like on November 29, 2011 in Lansing, Michigan

Here's a video clip of what it looked like in our front yard exactly three years ago.  It does snow here in mid-Michigan in November and this is proof.  This is for out-of-state family members who have been asking.

Can our tree leaves tell us what kind of winter we are going to have?

It's November 3 and the leaves are off our trees here in mid-Michigan.  A year ago today they were still on our front yard maple tree.  Today, that tree is bare.  What does that mean about the kind of winter we are going to have?  

Cold and lots of snow?  Is it time for me to go out and buy a generator for our home just in case the electricity goes out like it did last year?


Our front yard tree today.
This is our tree this morning. Took the picture from our living room couch. The tree is bare.




Our tree one year ago.
This is the same tree one year ago today. Big difference from today, right?



Craft beer and coconut-flavored coffee while shopping for groceries on a Monday morning

Being retired, super-wife and I have a lot of flexibility for when we go grocery shoppping.  This week, it was Monday morning at Horrock's Farm Market on the edge of Lansing, Michigan's Capital City.  The store is filled with amazing produce and other specialized food items.  

There's an amazing craft beer selection, as well as wine.  And there's the cheese along with great meat. There's also a whole wall of shelves filled with endless permutations of chips.

Now there's an onsite bar where you can buy a glass of craft beer to sip while filling your shopping cart.  I didn't get one today because I had hit the coffee sample bar first thing.  I was drinking a big cup of coconut-flavored coffee.


Coffee bar at Horrocks in Lansing.
Best coffee in Michigan's capital city is at Horrock's Market. Samples are big, hot and brewed just right.




The grocery store bar is on the right. It has 50 taps for craft beer and an interesting selection of wine.


Just think, at Horrocks, you can sip a beer or drink a coffee while shopping for apples and other groceries.