Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year

This year I resolve to be. It’s a ritual repeated every December 31st. We resolve to make a change in our life. Be it losing weight, stopping smoking, or being kinder to our little brother we pledge to change and never do.

In our homes, in bars, and at parties around the world we count down the last ten seconds till midnight. We drink a toast to the New Year, hug and kiss our loved ones, and greet the New Year by promising to change.

 No matter how we word it a resolution is all about changing a negative to a positive. We will lose weight because we are overweight or we will be kinder to our fellowman because most of the time we’ve been a real jerk. It’s all about trying to become a better person as if making ourselves better will somehow make our world better in the coming year. We promise to change and in so doing hope to change our future. The new year in and the old year out, a fresh start, out with the bad and in with the good. It’s our chance to turn our back on the past and start over.

Yet not keeping our resolutions has become a standing joke in comedy routines and comic strips. It is a true shortcoming and something that I intend to do something about. This year I will make no promise to change, after all you can’t break it if you never make it.

May you all have a truly happy New Year.

Saturday, December 27, 2008


I walked by the mirror the other day and couldn’t help noticing a stranger looking back at me. He was an old man with gray hair and a wrinkled brow. I knew it could not be me because I haven’t aged a bit since I turned twenty. At least I think I haven’t aged, I seem to be forgetting things lately. Still there he was in my mirror pretending to be me.

OK I’ll admit that I might have aged a little bit, ok maybe a lot, alright enough that my warranty is running out. I need glasses to see, I can only hear half of what is said to me, and my knees are man made. I am at the point where family reunions are at funerals and all the important people in my world are children. I am at the point that if I’m going to bend down to tie my shoes I look around to see what else I can do while I’m down there.

The bad part about aging is that I can ramble on telling a story and no one knows what I’m talking about. The good part about aging is that no one knows what I’m talking about. I’ve reached the point where most of my audience weren’t born when the things I’m talking about happened. It is also the age that gives one the right to say “I remember when” and than tell about walking five miles through the snow to school.

There are two rules for life that I’ve learned recently. “Always eat your desert first” and “you have to get old, you just don’t have to act that way”. I have lived long enough to start enjoying life and not worrying about what others think.  It’s a right I’ve worked for, I’ve earned, and no one is going to deny me of it.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Last Year


Christmas is over for another year and 2008 is almost gone. What will the year be remembered for? Will we even want to remember it? History was made with the election of an African American to the presidency but that was out shadowed by our economy falling apart. Everyday seemed to bring some new thrill on the rollercoaster ride. First gas prices went higher and higher than they began to dive, jobs began diapering, and no one seems to know what will happen next.

 The only sure thing is more and more people have less and less to spend. Like a spiral moving faster the larger it gets each job loss creates others causing still other jobs to be at risk. If you are not sure about your job you aren’t going to spend money on big ticket items like cars or run up new debits you might be able to payback. If people don’t buy the companies go under, more people loss jobs, there we go again.

I wish I had some bright spot or some light at the end of the tunnel, but there just isn’t a silver lining that I can see. Things are going to get worse before they get better. The only way to fix things is to reverse the spiral and find a way to get people back to work so they have money to spend. 

Tuesday, December 23, 2008


It's snowing again. It seems like it has been snowing all the time. We get a storm, have a day to dig out, and have another storm. I can't remember when we have had this much snow this early in the season.

The only good thing about all this white stuff is what it's doing for the economy. All the winter businesses are doing great. Skiing, snowmobiling, and winter festivals are bringing people into the area. 
Stores, Motels, Restaurants, the winter businesses are doing great and that means dollars coming into the local area.

As long as people want to come north to play in the stuff, let it snow. All I ask is a way to keep it from falling on my driveway.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Freedom Of Speech

Thank God we live in a country that guaranties us freedom of speech. A place where we can speak our minds without fear of reprisal. Yes a land where you can speak your mind as long as you don’t disagree. At least that seems to be the point of view of some people. They want to force others to see things their way. They will demand the right to be herd under the first amendment, but refuse to let you disagree with them. These are the groups who vandalize a business or burn down a subdivision that is being built. They will picket a funeral of brave young soldiers bringing added grief to those loved them. To them nothing is too outrageous or disruptive because they are only exercising their freedom to express themselves.

Their freedom to express themselves, I didn’t know there was one. I thought it was freedom of speech. You know the freedom to standup and tell others what we think as long as we don’t yell fire in a crowded room or incite a riot. If others disagree with your point of view you do not have a right to force them to do what you want. After all they also have a right to have an opinion and express it publicly.

Now don’t misunderstand, I’m not saying we should not protest when we see something that is wrong. That is what civil disobedience is all a about. When something is wrong or unjust we should protest it, but we must protest in a way that does not bring harm to our fellow man and we must be ready to except the consequences for our actions. You can hold protest marches just don’t set fires or loot stores along the way and when the police come be ready to pay your fine or go to jail.

Remember you can tell me what you believe you just can’t hold a gun to my head and make believe it too.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

All I Want For Christmas

What do I want for Christmas? Peace on earth, goodwill towards men, the economy to get better, all my friends and family to be healthy and happy? How about an end to poverty and hunger? The list of altruistic desires could go on and on.

The truth of the matter is that as wonderful as all those things are what I really want is stuff and lots of it. I am as greedy as the next person and am willing to admit it.  A new 48 inch led HD TV, a blue ray player, a new computer, an I pod,  and a cell phone. In lieu of those things I’ll take cash and lots of it. Enough to let my wife and I move down south to someplace where they never heard on snow.

I took an honest look at myself and realized that I am tired of always giving. It may be better to give than receive, but as selfish as it might be I want to receive. I’ve spent years giving to others in need. I’ve cast my bread upon the waters and now I’m ready to have it return.  When we look at the tree Christmas morning there should be a great big pile of presents all addressed to me. I mean big, I want Santa to get a hernia carrying them.

Well maybe that isn’t quite the truth. If there is something there I’ll be thankful. Thankful for the love and caring the gift represents and grateful that I have family and friends that want to show me that they care.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Buying A Car

The Big Three automakers said anew on Thursday that bankruptcy wasn't the answer, as did an official of the United Auto Workers who called the idea unworkable and even dangerous. The car companies argue that no one would buy a vehicle from a bankrupt company for fear that the company might not be around to honor warranties or maintain a supply of spare parts.       By DEB RIECHMANN, Associated Press Writer

No one will buy a car from a bankrupt company. The truth is no one will buy a car when they don’t have a job. However if they could afford to buy a car the fact that the company is in bankruptcy does not mean you can’t get parts or service. There are lots of repair shops out there to do the job if all the dealerships close. If there is a market for parts for cars someone will produce “after market parts” to fill the need.

Bankruptcy does not mean the end of the car companies. Look at the airlines for example, we have seen many of them fill for bankruptcy. They reorganize and are back in business. Sometimes it is the only way a company can restructure their debts and reorganize the way they run things.

The problem is getting cars sold. To do that you need two things, credit to borrow money and job security to make you willing to take on the payment. If you don’t have these you are not going to buy a new car even if the company isn’t bankrupt. Remember there are lots of good inexpensive used cars out there. If you are looking for a way to get to work or school a car is just a car new or used.  

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Snowmen, presents, holiday trees are these the symbols of the season? Lights in the yard, inflatable decorations, and deer made out of wire and lights; do these say happy holidays? Somehow from time to time a star or angel slips in, but does anyone remember why? Does the average person remember that there is more to the holidays then letters to Santa and gifts under the tree?


Why does it seem that we have forgotten what it’s all about? Why has everything become holiday this and holiday that? Have we become afraid to call it Christmas? Have we forgotten that what we are doing is celebrating the birth of Christ? That He was born so we might be saved?  That He is God’s gift to the world, His only Son. He was born to save us all.


We need to remember what is written in Luke chapter two.

“And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.  And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.  And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”


Wednesday, December 17, 2008

You Have A Call

In the store, in the car, in the office we find them. Cell phones, Blackberries, IPods it has gotten so people can’t live without them. If they aren’t in touch with their friends and the internet all the time their world will fall apart.

Parses like “can you hear me now” and “the most bars in the most places “has become part on the language. They text and they talk constantly and sometimes in the most inappropriate places. You can here their phones ring in meetings, in the theater, at weddings, and while driving the car.  

 The need to be able to be linked to ones friends and family is so great that they take their devices everywhere with them. According to an article on MSNBC. Com the need to be in touch has gotten even stranger.  Anecdotal evidence suggests being buried with a favorite tech device is on the upswing. The Future Laboratory, a London-based think tank, has commented on the behavior, noting it in places like the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa. But experts are seeing it happen in the United States as well”.

That’s right people are getting buried with them and what is even stranger is they keeping them turned on. One lady even paid ahead on her husband’s contract. It doesn’t matter that the phones battery will also be dead; you can leave a voice message.

“Can you hear me now?”

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Christmas Love

Love sat under the Christmas tree,
wrapped in paper and tied
with a bow.

For the children to find
on Christmas Day,
so a world of happiness
they could know.

In another house
just down the street,
there were no gifts all shiny and new.
yet love was still there, Just hidden from view.

For Christmas love is a magic thing
that needs not a box
wrapped in gold.

It comes form the heart,
is given with joy,
and can not be
bought or sold.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Duck Mr. President!

With all due respect Sir, what were you thinking? Thank God it just a pair of shoes.
They say you wanted to highlight a drop in violence and to celebrate a recent U.S.-Iraq security agreement, but could there be another reason? It sure seems like a great way to go out looking good.
Not quite as dramatic as the deck of an aircraft carrier, but the result is the same. Look what I did, I said we would win the war and we're doing it.

That’s alright Mr. President. We understand that you want to feel you did the right thing. With the economy falling apart at home, who can blame you for wanting to shift the spotlight to the one thing you think you did right.

Still the next time have the reporters take off their shoes out side the room.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Can It Get Worse

It snowed in New Orleans yesterday and it shut down the area. It must be terrible to live someplace where it’s so rare to see snow. We are buried up to our knees right now with more on the way.

The Senate refused to give the auto makers a bailout, the Governor cut the budget for Human Services, unemployment is pushing thirteen percent in some parts of the state, and the cost to heat your home has gone up at least ten percent. Can things get much worse for Michigan? The answer is yes they will get a lot worse before they get better.

Every day on the news there is a story about someone’s house or business being robed, or someone embezzling from their employer. People are tight for cash and it must seem like easy money, but in the long run they do get caught.

There is a song that goes “if it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all”. Tighten your seat belts, keep your arms and legs inside the car at all times, and enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I Remember When

The difference between Baby Boomers and today’s youth is experience. Not what you know, but what you have seen in your life time. If you are over fifty there is a long list of things that have come into your life and then disappeared. Running the gambit from the smell of mimeograph fluid, to the can openers that were used to open your dad’s beer before the advent of pop top cans. We remember them and the kids have never seen them.

Reel to reel tape recorders, forty five rpm records, and the taste of library paste. Most of our life was spent with out computers, calculators, and cell phones. They have never known anything else. We have seen the steady loss of pay phones, our light bulbs are fast becoming florescent lights, and now we are about to change over to digital television. This means the few black and white TV sets that have managed to exist will be gone. One more thing that will only be a memory.

That is what gives us the right to look them in the eye and say “I remember when”.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Driving In The Snow

If you live in Michigan in the northern part of the state you have two things in the winter that are equal to any other part of the country. You have deep snow and rugged terrain. In lake effect country you can get twelve to thirteen inches of snow over night, and there are roads as steep as you will find anywhere.

I say this because I want you to realize that I grew up driving in deep snow. I had snow tires on my car, but like all Michiganders that is all I had. No one I know would let five or six inches stop them from driving. Sure I spent my share of time stuck in the snow, but that was just the price one paid for living in God’s country.

So I want to know is what's the big deal about a little snow on the road? Some parts of the country shut down at the sight of a snow flake and others won’t let you drive without tire chains. In Michigan you can have chains as long as they don’t make contact with the surface of the road. I can’t think of a single person that even owns a set of the things.

You put a shovel in the trunk along with a blanket and some kitty litter for traction and you’re good to go. If you get stuck to deep to dig out, well that’s why they make tow trucks. Only wimp wouldn't drive in the snow around here.

Cat In The House

We have a house guest. She was not expected, but now she is here. She is a calico cat. I have not seen her since she got here; I think she is hiding under the bed. Oh well she will come out in her own good time. A friend of our nephew just moved back to town from down state and has no place to keep her. I swore I would never have another cat in my life, but somehow there is.

Don’t get me wrong, I love cats. I just don’t want to get attached to another one. I am one of those people who seem to attract stray cats. I can think of at least eight in my life, but there may be more. The trouble is they come into your life, you get close to them, and then one day they are gone. Cats are conditional creatures. They let you get close and love them, but only on their terms. When they decide they have enough that’s it their done.

She is only here temporarily. We will not get attached. Just like Fray David, Fur Ball, and Fluffy. Oh boy, I guess we will just have to wait and see what happens.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Snow Day

It’s snowing, and watching it brings to mind the great mysteries of childhood. Is it true no two snow flakes are the same, will your tongue really stick to the flag pole if you lick it, and the big one will we get enough snow to have a snow day?

A snow day is a true gift from the weather gods. What a wonderful thing to wake up to. The homework was all done and there was nothing for you to do except bundle up and go out and play. It did not matter if it was cold and the wind was blowing, you couldn’t waste a snow day. Make a snow angel, build a snow man, or have a snow ball fight. The choices were endless.

A real good storm could shut things down for days and best of all if it came late in the week you would have a long weekend. That meant one or two nice days when you could go sliding on the hill across the road or skating on the pond with your friends.

Digging out was for the grownups and now you are a grownup. Enjoy the snow.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Economics 101

Once upon a time there were no credit cards. You either lived within your means or had to barrow the money. To borrow the money you needed to have something to put up as collateral. No one was going to loan you money if they thought they were not going to get it back with interest. You made do with what you had; if you could not afford it you didn’t need it.

You could run up a bill at the store, but you had to pay it back. When stores got bigger and opened branches in other towns you could get a store charge card. This was good at any store in that chain, but you still had to pay it back. Then came credit cards and if you had one you could borrow money anywhere. Stores would sell you things when you had no cash and you only had to make the monthly payment. As long as you made the payments you had good credit and could get more cards. In the end you owed more than you could ever pay back, but your credit was good and there were so many things to buy.

The problem was everyone was glad to let you borrow money. Credit cards, car loans, mortgages it dad not matter. If you wanted it you get it on credit. People no longer lived within their means, but if things got tight you could use a credit card to make your payment.

You know the rest of this story. Factories moved away, jobs were lost, and people could not make those monthly payments. When people maxed out their credit and had no money to spend, stores no longer made as much money. They had to lay off employees, those employees had no money to spend, and you can see where this is going.

Until people get jobs or fell sure they aren’t going to loss the one they already have, things will not get better. You can bailout the big companies, but people still aren’t going to buy if they can’t pay. If we want out of this mess we have get people back to work. Let’s spend the tax dollars to make jobs and maybe things will start to turn around.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Snow Shoveling

It going to happen sooner or later. I do not want it to come about. I don’t want to do it. Yet here it is, and I have no choice but do it. It’s time to get out the shovel and fire up the snow blower, head out into the cold, and clean the snow off the driveway. This as close as I get to playing in the snow these days not like it was when I was a kid.

Back then we would stay out all day sliding and playing in the white stuff till we were soaking wet and half frozen. Than mom would yell at us to come in out of the snow and warm up. She would make us take off our wet things, take a worm bath, and put on dry clothes. After that if we were lucky we would get some hot coco or a bowl of soup (tomato with a toasted cheese sandwich).

Back then the cold did not matter, but now it does. Now I would rather look out my window and enjoy the beauty of it than go out in it. Still the fact remains, the snow is in the driveway and it’s not supposed to be there. It won’t move itself, so I guess I have no choice. It’s time to shovel the snow.

Monday, December 1, 2008


I’ve been fighting a cold for the last five days and have not posted anything. Felling miserable really makes me wonder about writing this blog. I told my self I would write something every day and I would write something profound. Now I don’t want to be profound, I just want to write about what I feel.

Life can be cruel and when it is I find myself wondering why me. I know it is all part of God’s plan and we should give thanks for it, but still I wonder why.
Three years ago I lost the job I held for twenty eight years. They no longer felt they needed a full time custodian and replaced me. Almost as soon as it happened He opened a door on to a new job. True it didn’t pay as well, but we learned to live within our means and when there was a need somehow we always had the money to take care of it.

Then my knees gave out. I could not do my job. I could not climb the stairs, get on my knees to scrub a baseboard, or clean the bleachers after a game. The doctor said they were bone on bone and they had to go.

It has been a rollercoaster ride, but when ever we needed to pay a bill the money was there. He has watched over us and we have always had what we needed. Still there are days when I wonder why. Is there a plan that He has for my life, or am I just wondering along aimlessly?

Is it just me or are there others out there who have the same doubts about where they are going and why they are here? Are there even others people out there in cyber space who care?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


Let us give thanks.

It is the day before Thanksgiving and we need to take the time to set back and be thankful for everything that has happened in the last year.That's right I said everything that has happened. Good or bad, these are the things that makeup the fabric of our life. Each event is a lesson, there to teach us about God's plan for us.

We need to give thanks to Him for each event in our life, for He is there to guide us and protect us. Like a wedding vow; we are in this life for better or for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health till He calls us home. Let us give thanks that He is now and always will be there when we need Him.

So dear readers as you share this holiday with your family and friends remember to be thankful for all that has happened. Have a happy Thanksgiving and may your life be filled with His love and blessings.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Class Of 69

Next year the class of 1969 will celebrate its fourth reunion. I think I might go. In the past I haven’t gone or had a desire to do so, but this time I might go.
It might be nice to see some of those faces from the past.

True they are people I knew, but the truth is I never really knew them. Our lives touched for those few short years and then grew apart. Now they are just names on a list at places like, without a face or anything other than memories from the past.
Still I want to see them again, just to see who they are and where they have been. We will talk about our past and what we are doing now. We will wonder why we never kept in touch and promise to write or call. Afterwards we will all go home and let those addresses and phone numbers gather dust. We may foreword an e-mail we got from a friend of a friend, but we won’t stay in touch. Strangers with a common past, we will mingle and go back home.

Yes I think I might go. Maybe they won’t remember who I am.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Want To Be A Friend?

I sit here staring at the computer screen, wondering what to say. You must forgive me if I ramble; I’m not at all sure what I want to say.The word friend comes to mind as a topic.

It is a word that I have seen a lot lately. Every networking site on the net uses it. They want you to look for friends. You should invite friends to join you. He wants to be your friend. Click here and make this person your friend. The term is thrown around a lot. A friend is someone you can talk to. It is someone who respects your point of view and values your opinion. In this life there are lots of people you know but very few friends.

Perhaps we need to find a different word to use on the sites. Friends should be people you know and respect. Everyone else should only be someone you would like to share ideas with. If you read my blog and I read yours that does not make us friends. Maybe if we share ideas and comment on each others thoughts. If we reach a point where we respect each others opinions and enjoy seeing what we have to say, than we could be friends. Until than I will be glade to add you the list of people I share with, but I will be very careful who I put on that special list called friends.I sit here staring at the computer screen, wondering what to say. You must forgive me if I ramble; I’m not at all sure what I want to say.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Wish Book

I was thinking about Christmases past and present. I remembered the one thing that made the season special. The one thing we kids looked forward to each year, the wish book. It was a peek into another world. It was what dreams were made of. Inside its pages was a wonderland of all that was new and exciting. All the newest and greatest things were in there.
Bikes and scooters, robots and trains, dolls and games, everything a child’s hart desired. Each year it came filled with all that was new and exciting for the holiday season. More than a place to buy things it was the place dreams were made. When it came we spent hours turning the pages and imagining what fun we could have with each new treasurer.

I am sure there were other things besides toys in there, but we really didn't notice. What we wanted was to pick out the things we couldn't’t live without and start dropping hints to mom and dad to get them for us.
I don’t remember if we ever got the things we wanted, but I do remember all the hours spent thumbing through those pages. Without that book the holidays would not have been the same. The childhood dreams of what might be filled our harts with excitement and anticipation. That is what was special about it. The hart felt dreams and wishes of a child’s Christmas.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Big Three Bailout

How important do you need to be to get help? One after another we have watched little factories close their doors and lay off workers. They can not make a profit and they go out of business. Fifty or sixty workers here, a hundred there, and how many jobs does it take to be important? If the company is poorly run should someone bail them out by throwing good money after bad? No amount of money can help if they are not profitable.
The size of the company and the number of jobs involved should not make a difference. The big three auto makers or an investment bank it should not matter. If they can’t make it maybe they need to change the way they do business.

The following is from the column, Other People's Money, written by CNET's Declan McCullagh. For CBS News.

"One of the best reasons why Detroit automakers should not receive a bailout can be found in a General Motors "Jobs Bank" program that, bizarrely, pays employees not to work. A beneficiary of that program was someone named Jerry Mellon, who worked for GM until his division merged with another in 2000 and he was no longer needed. Except for a brief period in 2001, Mellon received his full salary for not working, which reached $64,500 a year by 2006. Include benefits, and the annual cost to GM exceeds $100,000. To earn his pay, Mellon was given the formidable task of showing up in a windowless shed, sitting at a table, and doing nothing for eight hours a day for six years, according to a profile in the Wall Street Journal. Jobs Bank employees have the option of attending classes teaching such important manufacturing skills as dealing blackjack and poker. Mellon spent part of his time reading Reader's Digest, learning how to play Trivial Pursuit, napping on a makeshift bed of chairs pushed together, or simply staring at the wall for hours at a time. During those six years, Toyota surpassed GM as the world's largest car manufacturer, thanks to innovations like the fuel-sipping Prius. Nissan developed the GT-R, a technological marvel with a 0 to 60 time of 3.2 seconds and a lower sticker price than the Corvette ZR1. Honda kept its focus on smaller cars such as the Civic and Accord, and saw its sales continue to increase this summer while GM, Ford, and Chrysler have slid. The United Auto Workers union and Detroit executives concocted the Jobs Bank idea in the early 1980s. Now these same economic whizzes are lobbying for handouts in the form of your tax dollars."

I know these companies represent hundreds of thousands of workers and that their loss would have a devastating effect on the economy. I just don’t feel right about using our tax dollars to help them out. The underlying problems are still there and must be fixed. They should change the way they do business before they come asking for tax dollars to fix their problems.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Good Old Days

There seems to be a lot of things being written lately about the baby boomers, In particular those of us born in the fifties. As we get older, it is natural to look back at the good old days when life was simpler.

Things cost less, but we made less. Our folks were lucky to earn two dollars an hour. Most of the clothes we wore were either hand me downs from older siblings and cousins, or mom made them. Lots of the things we had as kids came from the Dime Store. Where you could get everything from toys and candy to new sneakers. We had a TV, but it was in black and white and only got three channels. The phone was rented from the phone company and you had to share it with other families on the party line. That phone had to stay in one place, no making a call from where ever you were.

How did we ever get along without cell phones, computers, and cable TV? What did our folks do with out credit cards and debit cards? How did we ever live without I-Pods, CD players, and DVDs? What about microwave ovens to reheat our take out food?

Good old days? How did we ever survive?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Winter is here.

All those wonderful words are back snow and cold, lake effect, system snow, blowing and drifting. It’s time to turn on the TV and check for school closings and delays. Winter has returned to northern Michigan. The ski resorts have fired up their snow guns and are talking about the earliest start to the season in years. It’s true we get snow this early in the season; it’s just that it usually does not stay. When it comes this early it will be gone in two or three days.

Not this year. This time it feels different. This time it feels like it could stay. Still it does not matter, if it stays or not we have to live with it. Slippery roads put cars in the ditch and most of us just aren’t ready. We’ve lost our hat and gloves and there isn’t a scraper in the car. There is no ice melt for the walk and the snow blower won’t start. Snow may be fun to play in, but as a rule it’s a pain in the butt.
Maybe if I close the curtains and ignore, it will go away. I think bears have the right idea when they sleep through the winter. I think I’ll go back to bed.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Winter Fun

In Benzonia, Michigan behind the elementary school there is a hill. A road ran down that hill and in the winter it would be closed to traffic. The Village kept it plowed and maintained a tow rope there. On weekends we would go there to slide.
Someone would build a bonfire at the top of the hill so we could get warm and we would spend the day riding our bobsleds, toboggans, and two runner sleds down to the bottom. Snowboards had yet to be invented so we used bump jumpers. These were basically a ski with a seat that you road using your feet for balance.
If you got tired of this, there was an ice rink across from the school. It was made by flattening the snow and spraying it with water.
All this was maintained by the Village of Benzonia and was enjoyed by all. The cost to use it? Nothing! It was just there to give us something to do.

No one supervised us. Our folks knew where we were. They also knew that if we got hurt someone would see that we got home.
No one worried about strangers, liability, or suing the Village if something happened. All that mattered was having a good time and getting home in time for supper.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Box Stores, Do We Need Them?

There is an old joke. "Where does a 600lb guerrilla sleep? Anywhere he wants." Big box stores have become the 600 lb guerilla in the world of small town shopping. The little stores can't compete with them. In town after town when the big guys move in the local stores disappear.

This may be great for shopping and getting a bargain; but all too soon the shopper finds they have no choice left. Computation is about more than price. The shops that disappear often provided services the big guys didn't.

When some corporate genius decides to stop carrying a certain product or size, you may no longer be able to get those items locally. In small towns that can mean a long drive to find what you need. The choice becomes driving over an hour or settling for something you didn't want in the first place. We have sacrificed the service and convinance of the corner store for a long drive to save a buck.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Snow on the Roads.

It could be a long winter. The word on the streets is that all the road departments are cutting back. When the storm hits nothing will happen till it is over.
M.D.O.T. has told the county road departments to cut back.

Michigan Department of Transportation tells counties to cut back on snow plowing, salting of roads
by Associated Press
Wednesday November 12, 2008, 7:53 AM
LANSING -- The Michigan Department of Transportation has directed county road commissions to cut back on snow plowing and salting of secondary roads as part of a cost-cutting effort.
The Detroit News reports Wednesday that the directive means road commissions would give high priority to freeways, but would limit less-traveled secondary roads to a single plowing and salting.
MDOT spokesman Bill Shreck says it's basically an effort to reduce overtime as officials also face high salt and fuel prices. He says if a storm is severe, crews will be sent out on overtime to ensure safety.

Winter snow plow priorities shifting?
MDOT tells counties, municipalities to watch their OT
Ludington Daily News
Steve Begnoche - Managing Editor
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Travelers on certain routes in Michigan could see less clear pavement this winter following a change in priorities established by the Michigan Department of Transportation.
Among routes now declared priority 2 — for which the state will limit how much overtime it pays contracting counties and municipalities to clear — are U.S. 10 east of Scottville, M-37, M-55, M-22 and U.S. 10 west of U.S. 10-31, including Ludington Avenue, Lakeshore Drive and South James Street. (A related story is in today's Daily News.)
The state is telling its contracting agencies that overtime should be used only during a storm or following a storm, “with a goal of providing a pavement surface generally bare of ice and snow; wide enough for one-wheel track in each direction.”
Any clearing of snow or ice beyond that level should be done only without working overtime, according to the MDOT’s winter level of service definitions.
Mason County Road Commission Managing Director Gary Dittmer said travelers east of Scottville may see a difference this winter, depending on when and if snow falls.
“They will see the center of the road opened up,” he said. “They won’t see bare pavement.”
He noted many east-west routes in northern Michigan are affected based on an MDOT traffic study that shows most traffic is flowing north-south in Michigan in winter.
What it means is we will need to be very careful driving this winter. Secondary roads won’t get done as well as in the past, and places like subdivisions may be very low on the list.

Get out safety gear; Put a box in the car with blankets, food, and a flashlight. Put a shovel in the trunk and make sure you have a working cell phone with you. Always drive carefully. The life you save could be your own.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

A Michigan Day Trip

Just a thought. Do you realize that when we talk driving distance in Michigan we often look at trips of four to six hours or longer. In some parts of the U.S. the same distance would take you through two or three states.
Still no matter where you live in Michigan there are places to visit that are worth the drive to go see.
Here in the central part of the state we are within a couple of hours of great skiing and snowmobiling in the winter and wonderful fishing and camping areas in the summer. Out of all the great places to go, if you have never been there, you must get to the Island. That's with a capital "I" because it is a proper name just like the Bridge.

I am talking about Mackinac Island and the Mackinac Bridge. The spelling is right, Mackinaw City is spelt with an aw, the others are ac. It's a Michigan thing having to do with the early French and English settlers. It is located in the Straits of Mackinac and can only be reached by boat or small plane.once a gathering place for native Americans, the British built Fort Mackinac there in 1781 when Fort Michilimackinac on the mainland was no longer considered safe.
The area was once central to the fur trade and played an important part in the early history of our country. Except for a brief time during the war of 1812 the U.S. maintained the fort through the American Civil War, using it house prisoners of war. In 1875 it became the second national park. In 1895 the fort was closed and the park became a state park.

An important part of history and a beautiful place to visit. It is surprising how many Michiganders have never been there. With excellent hotels and campgrounds in the area it is a perfect place for a day trip or extended stay. Mackinac Island is a pleasant step back in time where cars are band and everyone gets around with bikes or horse drawn carriages.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Deer Season In Michigan

Today is the twelfth, opening day of deer season in Michigan is the Saturday the fifteenth. The beginning of fifteen days of tradition here in the heartland of the state. From Kent County to "The Bridge" and everywhere in the U.P., this is more then just a time to hunt deer. In many families it is a right of passage.
Sure there is bow season before and after, but it is rifle season that marks the bonding of parent and child in the rite of deer hunting. It is a time so important that many factories close for "Deer Day" and schools call it safety day and shut their doors.

On farmland and in woodlots around the region legions of orange covered hunters will be counting down the seconds till sunrise and official start of the season.
For most of them it isn't just killing a deer. People around here really eat the meat, and getting a deer means food on the table this winter. The season also means money. Down state and out of state hunters bring much needed dollars into the area. Bars, restaurants, motels, gas stations, and grocery stores all see extra business at this time. What they spend now will help keep the heat on in allot of homes this winter.
In short deer season means hunters mean money spent and that means jobs for a lot of people who would otherwise be laid off.

While I do not hunt, I understand the importance of these fifteen days on the economy of the state. I must admit I also like the taste of a nice venison roast. Hopefully one of my hunting friends will be willing to share.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Money, Getting Things, And Happiness

Of all the things that can mess up your life, right at the top of the list is money. How much we have of it and how we spend it. We want to keep up with what the really cool people in our world have even if we can't afford it.The need to acquire stuff drives us to find a way to get it- no matter what.
Number one on the list is get credit cards. The card companies are falling all over themselves sending out offers, they want you to use them. Buy all that wonderful stuff and just make the payment.
Of course you might not qualify for a card, especially if you just lost your job. Don't worry, rent to own. Most of those places advertise no credit checks. Heck sometimes you don't even need a down payment.
The important thing is to get cool things at any cost .

Foreclosure, repossession, bill collectors, and bankruptcy. Not nice to think about, but they are there.
If you don't need it don't buy it. Use the twenty four hour rule. Give it a day and if you still think you need it save up and buy it.
That's right only buy what you can afford. Keep a budget and save for what you want. Why spend the rest of your life paying for something you can get along without.
Shelter,food, clothing, transportation, biggest bills first, than savings. If you don't have enough money either get more or don't spend it. Get a second job, cut back on things you don't need, or sell something.

Make up your mind what you can spend and what you need, than learn to live within your means. You aren't poor if you don't think you are. There are other things that can make you rich. If you have good friends and family to share your life, what more do you need. When we were kids we didn't have a lot,but we never knew we needed anything else. We were happy just being ourselves.
It's not being content that makes us want to get things. Only we find out that those things can't satisfy us and we still want more. Until you learn to be satisfied with what you have you will never know what it means to have inter peace.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Be Proactive With Your Health.

Two sure things in this world, getting older and having problems with your health. It is happens to all of us. Our warranty starts to run out and things go wrong.
The best advice for this is to be proactive. It's the only body you will have and you need to take care of it.
When things don't seem right you need to find out why.

Do a little research, talk to your doctor,and take control of your health. A little on line research at places like Web MD can help you find out what might be wrong, Tell the doctor how you feel, they ain't mind readers, and see what it could mean. Now do something about it. It's up to you, no one else is going to even know there is anything wrong until it is to late.

Yes, do something; just be careful what you do. Make sure your actions are based on good information and sound judgment. Don't go off half cocked,even the seemingly safest things might cause trouble.
It is true that there are "natural" remedies out there, but just because it is natural doesn't make it safe. Most of the drugs prescribed today came from natural sources. Remember they can react with other things you might be taking.
Use them as directed. If taking one pill is good for you, it does not mean that two will do a better job. Overdosing yourself and mixing medications is not only a bad idea, it can be fatal. Over the counter pain killers can cause kidney or liver failure if you abuse them, some safe medications can keep other things from doing what they were meant to do, and if your doctor doesn't know you are taking things over the counter how can they treat you effectively?

Remember if fell something is not right, do something about it. It's better to be wrong than to find out to late that something could have been about it.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Stumble Upon

Sitting at my computer to write this I let my mind drift aimlessly along. I realize I can be anywhere I want in just a click of the mouse. Yet if I don't know where I want to be then what?
That 's where the site I found comes in. Called Stumble Upon. it lets you do just that. You tell it what you 'er interested in and than you push the stumble button. Presto it randomly brings up a web page related to one of your areas of interest. You give the page a thumbs up or down and the program fine tunes itself to be able to find things that you would like to see.
If you find something you really like you can save it or mail it to a friend. This one of the neatest things I have found in a long while, right up there with free downloads and public domain photo pages.

It is amazing the number of cool sites and programs that are out there weighting for you to use them. No matter what it is you want to do or find all you need to do is type a few key words into a search engine and pow there's a web page or a program to fit your needs, and lots of it is for free.
The trick is to not be afraid. After all it is hard to mess things up so bad that deleting a program and running system restore won't fix it.
Jist have fun and stumble along at

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Food And The Seasons

Thanksgiving is coming up in a couple of weeks and the weather is getting colder. Those two things got me thinking about different foods and what they represent.

As we grow up foods become family traditions. The holidays and the seasons become linked in our minds with these foods to the point where they become one.
Thanksgiving is turkey, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole. Summer is cookouts with hamburgers and brats. Fall is apple cider and donuts. Easter is linked with ham and hard boiled eggs.
The list goes on and on. For each of us it changes based on our family and where we grew up. I am sure that people in the southwest don't see cold weather in the fall as soup time and there are those who don't have the same holiday traditions.

One thing remains the same for all of us, food can bring comfort and memories from our past. Family gathering around the table at grandma's house or a cookout at the beach. We each have memories triggered by smells, tastes, and the time of year.

Whatever these things mean to you, take the time to pause and reflect when you smell dinner in the oven during this holiday season.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Language And Age

I was wondering what to write about then a conversation with a friend gave me an idea.

Our language is made up of words and phrases that came into use because of things that were in common use. Now those things are gone, but the words and phrases remain.

Ice boxes are now refrigerators. We still say don't touch that dial when the television set has no dials. Record players are long gone, yet we still say someone is going on like a broken record. How about dial the phone, take a Polaroid, or play a record.

Kids today grow up without slip covers, party lines, percolators, typewriters, photocopiers, records, reel to reel movies, tape recorders, the ice cream man, and bottle openers.
Is it any wonder our language is so had to learn? What's a student to think when they hear "I'm going to run down to the break room and throw this in the ice box."
How about "He's running around like a chicken with its head cut off."
Life was truly exciting when cars had emergency brakes instead of parking breaks, and you went out to shoot the bull with your friends.

Still it's not so much the words, it's realizing the things they stand for no longer exist that makes one feel old.
Remember out there in the peanut gallery you're only as old as you feel.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Great Lakes, Gift And Responsblity

I realized how blessed I am to live in a state that's surrounded by water. Michigan is home to many beautiful lakes both large and small, there are rivers and streams everywhere you go, the Upper Peninsula is home to numerous waterfalls, and it all is part of the great lakes basin. We have more freshwater coastline than any other state.
With that fact comes responsibility. We have it and they don't. Others want it and we must guard it for those who will come after us.

It is not fiction to realize a pipeline could be built to move water hundreds of miles to areas that lack it.Nor is it out of the question that a tanker ship could sail in and fill up with hundreds of gallons of our water.
In our area we already have had to deal with the idea of the water being bottled and sold around the country, a problem that goes much further than one company. There many others taking the water out of wells and selling it.

If you look at the history of water in this country you will find many lakes and rivers that are or will soon be dried up. It may seem that a lake like Lake Michigan would not be hurt by a few hundred gallons lost, but it would soon be hundreds of thousands.
This must never be allowed to happen. We must wake up and realize that in the end water is for fighting for not just drinking.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

History Has Been Made

It is November the 5Th, 2008, the first day of a brave new world. Last night we the people voted to put an African American politician into the office of President of the United States.
Given the history of prejudice and hate that has been and still is part of the fabric of this country, this is truly extraordinary. One can truly say that it marks a turning point that it is hopefully the beginning of a new chapter in the way we see each other. Not as black, white, red,or brown; but simply as human beans.
What you stand for not what you are, that is all that should matter. One's beliefs not one's race or culture. That is what should matter.
Now is the time to realize that we are all Americans and we must work together to heal the ells of this great nation of ours.
We are each our brothers keeper and if we are going to turn things around we must look past what he is, see who he is, and work together put things right.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Going to Vote

I am going to go vote today. I sometimes wonder if it does any good, but still its a privilege and I want to take advantage of it. Yes a privilege and one that not everyone in this world gets to use. We are blessed by the fact that we live in a nation that believes that we all should have a say in how our government is run.

So at election time we get to decide who will represent us . That person may not do what we thought they would, but we can always vote for someone else next time. After all that's how the system works.

So I will go over to the township hall, stand in line, and when it is my turn I will step inside the voting both and exercise my privilege. Hopefully my candidate will win. Still if he does not I will have done my part to participate in the system that has made this country as great as it is. What ever happens, tomorrow will still come and life will go on.

If you can vote and don't you have hurt not just yourself, but you have made this county weaker by not taking part in the one thing that makes it so great. The right to vote has not always belonged to everyone. It is something that has been fought for and defended by all those who came before us,and we should not take it for granted. It is our privilege and we must take advantage of it.

Monday, November 3, 2008


I went into the local Walmart yesterday and the first thing I saw was a Christmas tree. The sound system was playing Christmas music and there were displays of Christmas candy and gift items. What bothered me was it was only the first day on November.

Every year the stores seem to push the season on us earlier and earlier. In some mad rush to get us to spend money, the displays of Christmas merchandise are put out for us to buy.

If some alien from outer space landed here today he would think that Christmas was all about selling and getting stuff. He would never understand the real meaning of the season. He would not see the caring and the giving. Nor would he understand about the love of your fellow man.

Christmas is a time to share Gods gift of love, His only Son, with those we hold near and dear. It is also the time to share that love with our fellow man. A time to reach out to others and let them know He loves them.

Christmas love is a thing to share all year long, but Christmas season should be about Christmas and has its own place and time. Lets get through with Thanksgiving first and than start celebrating.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Changing Seasons

The yard is full of leaves. It seems only a short while ago that they were bright , green , and on the trees. Than they were full of color painting the landscape in reed and gold. Now they are laying in my yard waiting for me to clean them up.

Time was you could smell burning leaves in the fall, but now they won't let you burn them. Now you mulch them, compost them, or in town rake them out to the street for the city crew to collect. Now they are just a reminder that winter will be here all to soon.

Even without the leaves you know its coming. You see geese flying south and the squirrels have been looking for acorns in the yard. They know it will soon become a cold white landscape. The type of thing that leaves you all to happy to curl up with good book and a cup of hot chocolate. The only good thing about winter is that spring won't be far behind.

By the way when geese fly in a V formation why is one side always longer than the other? Because there are more geese on that side.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Last One To Leave Turn Out The Lights

Everyone knows that the economy is bad, but here in Michigan it's really bad. Every day there is another story on the news about a factory closing or laying off workers.

In a small town it's not just fifty or sixty jobs lost, it's a dozen other jobs that depend on those people to spend money in the area.

Sure part of it is the fact that a lot of those factories make things for the auto industry,but part of it is the fact that we live in a big state that's made up of two peninsulas. The simple fact is that the further north you go in the state the more it's going to cost you to ship your raw materials and finished products. Why keep making things up north if you have another plant where it's cheaper to do business? As a result we depend on the tourist trade to keep our economy alive, and if people don't have the money to spend they aren't going to travel.

True the price of gas is coming down, but if people don't have the extra cash they are going to cut back on those trips up north to ski, snowmobile, ice fish, etc... and without them the restaurants, bars, motels, and everyone else that does business with them will have to lay off people because they can't afford to pay them.

It has gotten to the point that other states are coming here to recruit workers because they know we have the work force and they are looking for jobs.

Things will get better but before they do they will undoubtedly get worse. So like I said in the title "last one to leave turn out the lights".

Friday, October 31, 2008

Gone To The "Dawgs"

The city of Big Rapids, Michigan has gone to the "dawgs". Thirty five bulldogs, each three foot tall by four foot long, have been sponsored by local groups and businesses in the Big Rapids area. More information can be found at their web site .

For those who do not know, the bulldog is the mascot for Ferris State University which is located in Big Rapids. F.S.U. and the city have had a love hate relationship for a long time, after all this is a company town and F.S.U. is the company. Take away the students and the sidewalks roll-up.

Like all good things done to promote unity between the university and the city,someone had to mess things up. The "dawg" located by the courthouse was taken by a person or persons unknown. Sure enough it turned up on the porch of a fraternity house. Whether put there as a prank or not,it was something that didn't need to happen. Just one more thing done as a joke over the years, from missing flags to loud parties that show that there are students out there who don't get-it. When these things happen they make whole school look bad.

I am trying to get photos of all thirty five "dawgs". They will be on my Flickr page. just click on the link on the left side of the page.