Wednesday, December 30, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

In the year 2010 I will do my best to improve my life by doing the following things.

This is the time we look at our life and resolve to change things for the better. For most of us the list is made up of things like losing weight, stopping a bad habit like smoking, or starting a something new like a job or hobby. No matter what we put on the list we promise faithfully that we are going to follow the list and become a better person.

Unfortunately most of us never manage to live up to our list. Try as we might we fall short of the lofty goals and expectations we have set for ourselves; and in the end we watch them go down in flames. The fact is we make the list based on the shortcomings we see in our life and fail to realize that if we could change we would have long ago.

For this reason I’m suggesting that we all should resolve to look for things that are not so hard to change. Things that would make a difference in the little corner of the world we live in. Things like saying I love you to those we care about, telling others thank you when they do things for us, or looking for little acts of kindness we can perform for people we meet along as we travel down this rocky road we call life.

I’d make that a resolution and add it to my list, but then it would never get done.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Something about sitting alone at a computer in the middle of the night makes one think of mortality, old age, and losing one’s loved ones.

As we get older it seems that our warranty begins to run out, our parts give out, and we discover our body is subject to recall by its maker. We look around and discover that the multitude of people that surrounded us at twenty has shrunk to a handful. The question becomes not if but when someone else that we know will slip away to that quite place, that great unknown that waits for all of us in the end.

The wonderful world of medicine is working overtime to find a way for us to live forever, but I wonder who would want to. In the end if we live long enough we will find that the things we knew have ceased to exist and we are living in someone else’s world. Technology will have dragged us into a future that that will leave us longing for “the good old days”. A future populated by things we never dreamed possible and run by children. Pushed out of our comfort zone and striped of the familiar faces and places of our youth, we look for places where we can gather with our fellow survivors and remember the past.

Mankind was never meant to live forever, this life is but a step on the road we must follow as the true person inside this shell grows and becomes one with the universe.

Friday, December 11, 2009

To Smoke Or Not to Smoke

To all my friends who smoke I would like to extend my condolences. The world just got a little smaller, now you can’t go out to dinner or the corner bar if you want to smoke while you’re out. With a few exceptions you have to go out in the cold cruel world outdoors to comment the slow suicide you enjoy so much. I feel your pain and frustration at not being able to inflect the odder of your habit on those of us who just want have a nice dinner out or share a drink with our friends without choking on the gray cloud of your addiction.

There are those of us who do not wish to smell the stench or breathe the second hand smoke that results from wrapping a leaf in paper, putting that in your mouth, and setting fire to it. The world will not end nor will the economy of our state be destroyed by the act of banning smoking in your favorite bar or restaurant. Indeed you may find that the experience of dinning out may actually be improved by being able to savor the smell as well as the taste of the dinner you are eating.

I am sorry that you might feel that your rights are being crushed by the cold hard heal of the government. No one has said you can’t smoke, only that you can’t do it where it will infringe on the rights of others to live in a smoke free world. We set limits’ on where and when we can drink in public, why should we not do the same with smoking.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Everyone Talks About It.

Everyone talks about the weather, but there’s not blasted thing any of us can do about it. The first big storm of the year is headed our way and by morning we could have over a foot of snow. The snow blower is ready to go, the shovel is by the door, and the ice melt is ready to spread. All there is left to do is wait for it to get here.

They say we are suppose to get less snow over all this winter, but what they did not tell anyone was it was all going to come at once. There is a point in a person’s life when it does not matter how much snow there is, you still have to go out and clean it off the drive. The real question is what kind of snow it is. If it’s heavy and wet it can give you a hart attack and if it’s light and fluffy it can whip into drifts that can block roads and take twice as long to clear away.

Only the kids like a storm because if it is bad enough they will get a snow day and not have to go to school. Still if it’s too bad they won’t be able to go out and no one wants to be stuck in the house on a snow day.

In short we would be better off if the storm never happened or at least it only snowed on the grass.

Friday, December 4, 2009


It came in the night. I knew it would happen, but some how I had hoped it wouldn’t. Yet there it is outside my window, mocking me with it deceptively beautiful looks. Soft and fluffy, carpeting the dead browns and grays of fall with a blanket of white it has come. As a child it filled me with joy. It meant sliding and skiing, snowmen and snow forts, winter with all the fun of playing out in it. The snow at last is here and it no longer makes me want to go out and play.

The only playing I’m doing these days is with a shovel and the snow blower. Keeping the drive clean so we can get the car out is now my goal on a winter’s day. Still I can’t help enjoying the soft beauty of a blanket of new fallen snow in the moonlight smoothing out the ruff edges of the yard and covering it in a clean white landscape of moonlit shadows and drifts.

It is here, it is not going away, enjoy it.

Monday, November 30, 2009


Tomorrow is the first of December; we made it through Thanksgiving and Black Friday shopping and now its four weeks till Christmas. It does not matter if you treat it as a celebration of the birth of the Christ Child, or just a time to share in the love of your family and friends. What is important is that it is going to be here before we know it.

It’s time to get out the lights, put up the tree, and start shopping for gifts. The kids have long since made up their minds and are hinting (no begging) for that special toy. Their world filled with dreams of wonders to come they have visited Santa at the mall, or written their letter to him at the North Pole. Either way they have made sure that he knows what their hart desires under the tree.

As we get caught up in the madness of the next few weeks let us not forget the reason Christmas is even here. At this time of year we celebrate the birth of the Christ Child, the Son Of God who came to save us from sin and grant us life eternal if we believe in him. It is the time when we should think of those less fortunate then we are. Time to give of our bounty to those who are in need of shelter, food, and the reassurance that some one loves them.

In closing, merry Christmas and may your life be filled with the blessings of the season.

Monday, November 23, 2009


Thanksgiving is upon us, the holiday season is here. This day and Christmas are the two big family days of the year. Time to get together, share the joy of the season, and give thanks for all the wonderful things that have come our way. It does not matter if you treat them as secular or religious holidays; they still the two biggies on the list of days to celebrate.

Thanksgiving Day; parades, dinner, Football on T.V., and calling friends to wish them a wonderful day. The smell of turkey cooking in the oven and freshly baked pie cooling in the kitchen. The laughter of children playing, the buzz of voices as everyone seems to talk at once, and the joy of catching up with people we have not seen since last year.

May your day be full of excitement and love, may you have way to much to eat, and may you be truly thankful; for all the good things in your life.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Our Fellow Man

There was a song in the sixties that had a verse that went like this. “The whole world is festering with unhappy souls, the French hate the Germans, the Germans hate the Polls. The Polls hate the Yugoslavs, the Yugoslavs hate the Dutch, and I don’t like anyone very much.”

Watch the news, cruse the internet, listen to your fellow man and you will see that our world is driven by prejudice. Don’t say you aren’t because down deep we all feel threatened by people who move into our life, turning it on its ear by being different. They don’t speak our language, they don’t dress like we do, they have different customs and beliefs then we are used to. In short they make us feel uneasy and afraid. They have no right to be the way they are, they need to change and become more like us.

Our world is fueled by feelings of distrust that shape our government, our social life, and the way we interact with our fellow man. Through out history these feelings have lead to laws aimed at forcing “those people” to conform to our way of life. What we fail to remember is that one time we were the ones who were different. Somewhere in our past there were people who spoke the wrong language, wore the wrong clothes, and acted different.

We each think of ourselves as enlightened and able to except people as they are, the truth is we can only do this when they are trying to be like us. When they are being their self we become the one who is different and that is the one thing we will never be able to deal with.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Health Insurance And Care

It’s been a while but I’m back. Due to events in my life I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about health insurance and the medical system in this country.

Let me start by saying that the system needs fixing. We need a health care system that allows doctors to prescribe the treatment they fell is best for their patent, not just the one the insurance wants them to. A system that would allow everyone to have insurance regardless of income or any preexisting conditions. If you can no longer work you should be guaranteed coverage until you can get another job with coverage or qualified for Medicaid or Medicare insurance.

Medical treatment should be based on what is best for the patent, not what is most cost efficient. Giving the best care possible should take president over saving a buck. There should not be one plan for the rich and another for those who are less able to pay for that level of care. Fair and equal medical care should be a basic right of every American just like freedom of speech and the right to vote. It should be “life, liberty, and equal medical care”.

There should never be someone denied help because his or hers insurance leaves them with such a high copayment that they can’t afford it. If it’s good enough for our Senators and Representatives in Washington then it should be good enough for everyone without regard to race, gender, income, or age. I don’t care about a “public option”, I just want the security of knowing that come what may I can have the care I need when and where I need it.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


You have to get to work in the morning and you don’t want to leave the kids alone to get the school bus so you r neighbor says they can stay at her hose for an hour every day. Great now you don’t have to worry and you don’t have to hire a babysitter. It’s a no brainer the kids stay with someone they know and you know they are safe, thank God for good neighbors.

Wrong, at least in Michigan where the Department Of Human Services told a woman that she was breaking the law and running an illegal day care for doing just that. She is not getting paid; she is just keeping an eye on them and giving them a place to wait till the bus comes.

Does this mean that if you let the neighborhood kids plays at your house while their folks go to the store your breaking the law? When we were kids no one gave it a thought if we stayed at a friend’s house because our folks had no one to watch us.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Don’t throw the baby away with the bathwater. Be carful that in the name of progress or expediency we don’t get red of things to quickly. Just because there is a better or cheaper way does not mean that what it’s replacing is no longer needed. In the rush to do things faster, cheaper, and easier let us not throw away completely what we are replacing. Once something is gone, it’s gone for good.

As the pace of progress increases the everyday things we take for granted seem to disappear faster and faster. Be it a tool, a toy, or an integral part needed to repair or replace some thing we have come to take for granted. If it is no longer made or made differently because it’s cheaper or easier than the way things used to be there is no way to tell what the result might be.

It could be anything from empty “box stores” left abandoned as whole new buildings rise up else where to make them super stores, to the disappearance of pay phones. We rush off in pursuit of that which is shiny and new and fail to realize that old does not always mean outmoded.

If it’s not broke don’t fix it. Keep it simple, the more complicated a thing is the more there is to go wrong and harder (and expensive) it is to fix.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Good by

The truly sad thing about getting old is seeing the things you grew up with disappear. From “church keys” to pay phones, big things or small, the things we take for granted just disappear. If you don’t know a “church key” is a bottle opener and pay phones aren’t economical any more because of cell phones. New technology has forced many things to disappear, lack of interest has been the death of others, and lack of funding has killed the rest.

The Michigan State Fair is about to become the next victim. After 161 years the longest running State Fair in the country is seeing its last year, when it ends on Labor Day it will truly end. Founded in 1849 it is a victim of the economy. The Governor says the State can no longer afford to fund it.

At a time when fairs and local festivals are propping up the business community of the State, it’s a shame to see it go. One wonders if it is a sign of things to come. How many county fairs and local festivals are going to dry up and blow away? We are a tourist state and without things to draw people here they and their money won’t come.

Sunday, August 30, 2009


I’ve been reading all about the health care debate. Turn on the news and it seems like that’s all you hear about. Should we have a government option, or should it all be private insurance programs? Should there be a choice for the underinsured and uninsured and what about those who don’t have an employer backed plan? What do you do if you are losing your job and your insurance or can’t afford to buy any even if you are working?

I find myself caught in the middle, to young for Medicare and dependent on my wife’s insurance at work. Her health and mine are both shaky at best so what do we do if she can’t do her job any longer? If we don’t have “good” coverage how are we going to afford to see our doctor or buy any medications that we need? If you’re poor enough or old enough you can get Medicare or Medicaid so why not an option for those who are not? There is no question that the system is broken, or that it is unfairly weighted tin favor of those who have good jobs or are more affluent. Lord knows that the government is great at screwing things up, but the system is not fixing itself so what should we do?

There are no easy answers, but right now it all boils down to “how is it going to affect me?” Are we going to have insurance, should my wife keep working at a job that she is leaves her in pain from standing at a machine all day just because we need the medical coverage? Good or bad I would at least like a choice that would allow us some options and if it’s a government backed one so be it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Make It Green

I just read an article in the paper about Waste Management Corporation here in Michigan. Rather then capturing the wastewater runoff caused by rainwater at their Maple City site and trucking it to the Frankfort for treatment they have instated new technology to take care of the problem. It uses methane gas generated by the landfill to power a system that evaporate and concentrate the liquid called leachate creating a product that will go back into the landfill to add decomposition.

This is a win win deal, keeping the trucks off the roads, saving Waste Management money, taking extra load off the treatment plant, and about half the methane gas created at the site is used. They say that even though it is better for the environment they are doing it for economic reasons only.

It’s a shame that new technologies that are good for our environment are often at the mercy of cost considerations and the not in my backyard attitude that keeps things like wind farms, trash handling systems, and other “green” systems from being implemented.

We must let our elected representatives on the local, state, and national level know that we need to clean up our act and the time to do it is now.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I Was Bored

Taking a deaf child road sign, tipping over head stones in a cemetery, breaking into and vandalizing a school, defacing someone’s lawn display of the Statue of Liberty, what’s going on? Acts such as these show disrespect for the property of others, cost someone money, and in some cases can cause harm to people.

When caught the person or persons responsible are usually young (under the age of twenty five) and say they did it because they were bored. They had nothing better to do so they thought it would be fun to destroy some ones property.

Since they are the children and grand children of my generation, I have to ask if it’s the way they were raised. Did we fail to give them a set of values; did we not teach them to respect others, are we somehow to blame for the things they have done? Or is it the environment they live in that has given them this idea that the rules don’t apply to them.

They are worse than the “me generation”, they are the “it’s not my fault generation”. If they think a thing will be fun to do they do it without regard for the damage they are causing.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

It's a dirty job, but somebody needs to do it.

A job is a job is a job. When you don’t have one and you can’t find one what are you going to do? You got laid off or your factory closed and your unemployment is running out, what choices do you have? You are willing to work, but there just doesn’t seem to be anything you’re trained to do, where do you go?

There jobs out there, but because no one wants to do them. The work is hard and dirty, the job requires you to move, or the pay is lower than what you had before. Just remember “it’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it”. For years we have been told that the jobs being done by illegal aliens were the ones no one else wanted to do. Maybe those are the jobs that you need to look at.

The trash needs to be picked up, the crops need to be harvested, and the hotel rooms need to be cleaned. Someone has to wash cars at the carwash or load and unload the trucks that move goods around the country. Believe me the food in the store didn’t grow in cans and boxes, it got there because somebody grew the crops and milked the cows. Somebody worked in the plant that turned the beef, pork, and chicken into the food you could cook and eat.

The jobs that leave you sweaty and dirty will always be there if you are willing to do them. They may not be glamorous, but they will always be there. Any job is better than no job when you can’t pay the bills or put food on the table.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Is There A Bathroom ?

Lets talk about bathrooms, both public and privet. They are without question a necessity in this world and the older we get the more of a necessity they become. Between pills that cause one to need them more often and other age related needs it behooves one to know the answer to that important question; “where is the bathroom?”

The problem is that even when you know the answer it still might not do you any good. Besides the occasional out of order and closed for cleaning signs, there are those of us in this world who can’t use it because we don’t fit. We are the people who for one reason or another require more space then other people.

It isn’t just the size of the space that creates problems; it’s the way it is arranged. It would seem that the people designing and building these areas lack a certain amount of common sense. They place the toilet to close to the wall, mount toilet paper dispensers that fut out six inches into space you need for your knee, or don’t allow enough space between walls. On top of that some of them seem to have forgotten that if you are right handed you can’t hold on to the support bar and wipe your butt at the same time. I have been in more than one bathroom where the toilet was up against the right hand wall with two feet of space and no bar on the left.

There are some places that seem to care, but way too many appear to have thrown something together to satisfy the A.D.A. act. Still they are doing something, they could just hang out the “no public restroom” sign and we would have no place to go.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

To The Luckiest Guy In The World

This is addressed to you, and you know who you are. You’re the one person in the world that does not have to worry about doing stupid things that would get anyone else hurt or killed. Things like talking on the phone or texting while driving, things like walking behind that car in the parking lot that’s starting to back up, things like pulling out from a side street into traffic without enough room because you know the other guy will slow down to let you in.

You go through life knowing that all the bad things happen to the other guy and not to you. You are blessed by the fact that you are too good, to careful, and to skilled to get hurt. If you do have an accident it has to be the other persons fault.

The trouble is that you’re not the only one who thinks they are so blessed. One of these days the two of you will meet and when you do chances are some innocent bystander will get hurt. I just hope that it is not me or someone I know.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


Having had a week to think about it I thought I should put down a few thoughts about class reunions. Last week, after forty years I met with my fellow alumni for the reunion of the Benzie Central High School class of 1969.

First of all I only recognized one or two people. Don’t get me wrong I remembered them, I just didn’t recognize them. Time it seems changes us all. Hair turns gray, waistlines expand, hair lines recede, and everyone is forty years older.

Time brings us together. It would seem that as we age differences in personality and lifestyle that seem so important forty years ago no longer mater. They have been erased by a lifetime of shared experiences. We have all watched as the world has changed and dealing with that change has blurred the lines between the jocks, band kids, and the kids who were in shop class. It makes you realize that in so many ways we are the same.

We may not remember things exactly the same way, but the memories we share are the same. We may not agree on how things happened, but we agree that they did and that’s all that matters. Lets jest hope that next time we can still remember at all.

As it is I’m looking forward to next time and I’ll see you in five more years.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Walter Cronkite

A great man has passed away.

If you were born in the eighties you may wonder who he is, but the rest of us know. At a time before cable TV and computers in your pocket when all we had was the radio and three channels on TV he came into our homes each night and told us what was happening in our world. He was there when our world was shattered in Dallas in 1963 and helped us make sense of the war in Vet Nam. He told us about every thing good or bad that happened and somehow made us feel that things would be alright and life would go on. He made us realize that it was ok to cry over the bad things and life would go on.

He was always there to reassure us as he brought us the news and as a result he became part of our memory of each event. The moon landing, the Cuban missile crises, J.F. K.’s death, he was a part of them all and he helped shape the way we remember them.

Good by Mr. Cronkite you will be missed.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


On Saturday I was in Benzie County, Michigan for my fourth class reunion. With time to kill in the morning my wife and I decided to enjoy the scenic wonder of this area that is the gateway to the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore. The wind was blowing and it had stormed during the night so we headed out to the Point Betzie Lighthouse to watch the waves and take some pictures of the light on a stormy day.

The National Lakeshore is visited by people from all over the United States and around the globe, and as a result so is the Point Betzie Lighthouse. People go there to watch the sunsets, the lighthouse, and changing modes of Lake Michigan. It is a with pride that local people point it out as a place that is truly worth the drive to see.

You can well imagine how I felt as I walked down to the lake shore and discovered that the night before someone had a party there and left the area completely trashed. Beer cans and rubbish were spread all over the place leaving an ugly on what should have been a pristine view of nature’s beauty.

I can only wonder what kind on thoughtless, inconsiderate, jerks would see fit to leave a miss like this to welcome visitors to our State and one of the scenic wonders we are so blessed to have to share with the world.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Weather

There is an old joke here in Michigan, It’s about a man who dies and while he is weighting outside the Pearly Gates he sees two of Satin’s helpers throwing souls into Hell. Beside them is a pile of souls and every so often they throw another on the pile. When the man asks whets going on he is told that those souls are from Michigan and they are to wet and cold to burn.

It would seem that this summer that is not a joke. For the last few weeks we have either had rain or below normal temperature. They are saying we well have some sunshine soon, but it’s only going to get in the low seventies. It is playing havoc with the tourist industry, and the farmers are having a hard time of it. Its to wet to get in hay and to cool for the corn to grow, and who wants to go up north to the lake when it’s cold and raining.

Oh well its like they say we only have two seasons here winter and road repair. I guess we might as well make the best of what we have. So for now that’s my opinion and I’m sticking to it.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

History Then And Now

For the better part of my life I thought historically important events and places were things that were anyplace other then where I lived. One day I woke up and realized that history was all around me, just because something took place in my backyard did not make it unimportant.

Two hundred years ago most of my home sate of Michigan was a wilderness frequented by Fur Trappers and Indians. Before that the British and the French fought over the ownership of this land. There were forts built that played a major role in the French and Indian War, the Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812.

Than came the local history, the wilderness being cleared, towns being built, and people living dreams of a better life for their families. History is what went on before we came along and history is what we are making and leaving behind for those who will come after us.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Freedom Of Speech

I don’t have to agree with what you say, but you have every right to say it. Freedom of speech is one of our basic rights garneted to us by our construction. It is not a shield to hide behind when we want to be petty, gruel, or mean.

Each of us has this same right and if I don’t agree with you, it does not give you the right to force your point of view on me. It does not give you the right to vandalize or burn my property, nor does it say you can do me bodily harm or try to kill me if I don’t think the way you do.

When your freedom of speech turns to hate and can cause harm to someone than you are no longer deserving of that right. Respect for the opinions of your fellow man is key to your right to express yourself, you fall to give that respect and you forfeit your that right.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cold And Wet

June and the furnace ran this morning and it is raining. I don’t know what’s going on, but it should be sunny and warm not rainy and cold.

Just saw a story on the news about tourists or the lack of them because of the lousy weather. Who wants to go up north camping or to the cottage if you are going to freeze in the process? Hiking, camping, canoeing, or lying on the beach soaking up the sun is not much fun if it’s wet and cold.

In Michigan we need tourism; but between the rising gas prices, the weather, everyone being tight for cash people just don’t seem to be coming. Lets face it we need those tourist dollars to keep the economy afloat up here in God’s country.

We need to pray for sunshine and warm weather and we need to do it now.

Friday, May 29, 2009


This weekend is the end of May, on the second of June school is done and summer starts for real.

Remember that last few minutes of the last hour of the last day of the school year? The felling of excitement, the dreams of all the things you wanted to do, and anticipation of the fun you were going to have.

Swimming, camping, playing ball, or just hanging out with your friends. Summer was an adventure to be sipped like a wine, enjoyed slowly so you didn’t miss out on any of it. No cares, no worries, just relaxing and having fun.

As we get older life gets complicated and vacations get shorter and more stressful. We make plans, set itineraries, and tie ourselves to schedules. It seems we have forgotten what made vacation so great as a kid. To lay back and go with the flow, to take it as a great adventure never knowing what might be around the next turn in the road.

The road goes on and I must follow if I can, neither knowing or caring where it leads.

Monday, May 18, 2009


It's been awhile since I've written. It seems too long , but I'm sure there are those who will think it's not long enough.

 Speaking of time, I've been thinking about it lately and how fast and slow it is. In the blink of an eye years can fly by and yet a few minutes can seem an eternity. For those of you who doubt this try weighting for the commercials to get done so you can watch your favorite show on TV.

As for time flying, there are two things that have recently made that a glaring reality in my life. First was the realization that this will mark the fortieth year since I graduated from high school and the other is the fact that I'm now another year older. 

Both of these things should not be happening. It has not been long enough for ether event to take place, yet there is no questioning the fact that they are real. Fourthly years have flown by and that eighteen year old who knew everything is now fifty eight and has forgotten what happened to the car keys.

There is no way to change and no take backs in life. The hand we are dealt is all we have so we might as well make the best of it. 

Sunday, May 3, 2009


It’s been a busy week, the weather was rainy the first few days and then it turned more spring like. With the sun out I started working on cleaning up the yard and getting ready for planting some flowers in a couple of weeks. The leaves are opening on the trees, the grass is growing, and everything has that bright fresh look of new life after the long death of winter. Even the birds say spring, all the migrates are back with the exception of the humming birds and I should see them any day now. The Rose Breasted Grossbeaks and the Orioles arrived this week adding their bright colors to the yard.

I’ve been out riding my trike on the Rails To Trails State Park. I try to ride everyday if the weather is nice and each time I try to go a little further. It links up with the city’s North End Park so there is no shortage of places to go. It’s surprising how out of shape I let myself get, but the riding helps. I’m hoping it will also give me an opportunity to take some photos along the way, I may not be the greatest photographer in the world but I have fun taking pictures of flowers and wildlife.

It’s the start of a new week and a new year in my life as I’m going to turn fifty eight this week so I guess I will keep trying to stay active and breathing for another week. Till next time keep me in your prayers and remember to enjoy each day.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Outside My Window

Sitting and looking out my living room window I never fail to be amazed by the wildlife I see. Besides the birds at the feeders there are black squirrels, red squirrels, fox squirrels, deer, rabbits, woodchucks, chipmunks, opossums, and the other night a gray fox.

What makes this so amazing is the fact that I live in a subdivision of a small mid Michigan college town. I grew up in the hill country of the state in a very rural setting. A place with lots of woods, lakes, and wide open country yet I can not remember there being the amount or the verity of wild life that I have now.

It would seem that the numbers and types of animals living in the state are increasing. This could be because the habitat they need is increasing. Many small farms are no longer being used and there wood lots are becoming overgrown, perfect homes for deer, bear, and small game. That and the increasing number of homes springing up and turning open land into private property where no one hunts could be behind this increase in wildlife.

All I know is that looking out my window has become a truly enjoyable pastime that I hope to be able to continue for years to come.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Product Warnings


A Watercraft Warns: Never Use Lit Match or Open Flame to Check Fuel Level

Two-Pronged Fishing Hook Warns: Harmful If Swallowed

A Curling Iron Warns: Do Not Use While Bathing or in Shower

Children's Dimetapp Warns: Be Careful When Driving a Motor Vehicle


There was a time when common sense was what governed peoples actions, when you did something dumb and got hurt it was no ones fault but your own. If you fell out of a tree chances are your folks would ask what you were doing climbing that tree, today they would call a lawyer and sue the owner of the tree.

It might seem fun to look up dumb warnings from products, but they would not be there if someone hadn’t tried to do those things in the first place. We live in a world where people do thing that common sense should tell them not to do, and when they get hurt they sue. It’s not their fault they should have been told not to do it. How were they to know that they could get burned by ironing their clothes while wearing them? The fault lies in the company that made the iron, not in them so the company should pay.

There it is, if I get hurt someone else is to blame and I should be compensated for my pain and suffering. After all if they had warned me I would not have been hurt. 

Thursday, April 9, 2009


Here it is, Thursday and I’m not sure what to write about. Spring is here, the sun is shining, the birds are singing, and the weather man promises that we won’t have any more snow- at least for the next few days. So far it seems that for every nice day we have had three that were cold and miserable.

I’m ready for it to stay sunny and warm. I got my garden tractor back from the shop and we’re making plans for what to do with the garden this year. I want to dig up some of the old beds and plant all new flowers, and my climbing roses need to be cut back to the ground. The pin cherries are over grown and pushing into the day lily bed, and the hosta by the oak tree need to be replaced with something the deer won’t eat.

The deck needs to be power washed and painted, the hedges need trimming, there is a broken window in the garage, and the weeds are growing in the cracks in the walk. Oh man, I guess it wouldn’t hurt if the weather stayed cold for awhile after all.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Fire Season

It’s that time of year here in Michigan. Its spring when the snow is melted away but the grass hasn’t started to grow. Its fire season, when people want to clean up their yards and get red of the brush and dead grass that’s lying around. It’s now that a spark from a burning brush pile, trash barrel, or cigarette can cause a fire that can burn fields and buildings before it’s stopped.

My Dad was a D.N. R. Fire Officer when I was growing up and this was always a busy time of year for him. We would get a nice day and people would be out working in their yards, next thing you knew there was a phone call about a fire. It was worse if it had rained earlier in the day, and then people thought it was OK to burn. What they didn’t realize was the rain soaked in and the dead grass was still tender dry.

Please call the Fire Department, if it’s not safe to burn they will tell you. If it is safe they can give you a burn permit. If you get a permit and are going to burn please make sure you have a hose handy and someone is watching the fire at all times. Remember in Michigan you can be made to pay for the cost of fighting the fire if it gets out of control.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

One Size Fits All

One size fits all is not and will never be a true statement. When it comes to clothing the buyer knows this and can opt out of the transaction if they want, but what happens when you have no choice. What do you do if you are caught up by some well meaning law that just happens to be one size fits all?

The US government passed a lead protection bill to protect children from lead. This was a great idea after the problems that arose in 2007 with lead in children’s toys, but something has happened that was not foreseen. All sorts of businesses have found themselves caught by a law that should never have affected them.

Small mom and pop toy makers that make and sell hand crafted toys will have to pay to have each toy checked for lead, a move that will put most of them out of business. Libraries may have to test and get read of children’s books with lead in them, a move they can’t afford. The makers of and the dealers of motorcycles and snowmobiles designed for children can’t sell, repair, or supply parts for their products because they have lead in the paint and engine parts.

This truly a case of a one size fits all law that though well meaning has or will hurt people it should be protecting, and that is the children. By protecting them from a real problem the law could easily deprive them of things that would never hurt them. No child is going to lick or mouth a motorcycle, library book, or the zipper on their clothing that may or may not have lead in its compounds. 

Friday, March 20, 2009

Human Nature

Hard times seem to bring out worst in our fellow man. The more the news reports on how bad things are in this country, the more one hears about people doing wrong. It seems that some of us have been overcome by selfishness and greed, while others have given into desperation as their world falls apart around them.

I see more and more stories about people taking advantage of the situation to con others out of what money they do have by pretending to offer them help in their time of need. There are stories of people embezzling money from their workplace, breaking into homes, and robbing stores.

As I said some are doing these things out of desperation, they see themselves losing everything and don’t know where to turn. Others though are doing these things out of greed, they are only interested in themselves, and fell the world owes them a living.

It is truly a shame that when times get hard people can’t show a better face to the world, but the sad fact is that it’s part of human nature. Deep inside we each have a dark side, a devil that sits on our shoulder and whispers in our ear guiding us down crooked path of crime. No matter why we do it, when we take advantage of others for our own benefit we only harm ourselves.

Friday, March 13, 2009

To Good To Be True

All it takes is hard times to bring out the worst in people. Let someone end up facing foreclosure or lose their job and the conmen come out of the woodwork.  They offer get rich schemes, can’t fail ways to get a job, or help getting money that does not exist.

They want to offer you a job, let you know you have money in the bank in some other country, or that you have won that lottery you can’t remember entering. They can help you get government grants that don’t exist and start a business that is guarantied to make you rich. All this and all you have to do is give them all your personal information and send them money

If it looks to good to be true, it’s most likely to good to be true. You can’t get something for nothing in this world and when someone says you can watch out. These helpful people exist because there are gullible and desperate individuals out there who are out of work, can’t pay their bills, and don’t know where to turn for help. They make a living taking advantage of people. They are and always will be there, a pitfall on life’s road that we must try to avoid. 

Friday, March 6, 2009

For Sale

For sale slightly used body parts; gray and thinning hair, arthritic joints, and eyesight requiring corrective lenses.

That’s an ad that I won’t be posting anytime soon and if I did who would want parts from body whose warranty is running out. Yet in the current economic climate that’s what some people are doing. They’re selling everything from their blood and hair to sperm and eggs. If you want to buy it they have it for sale.

It’s illegal to sell your organs in the USA but you can sell plasma, hair, cord blood, sperm, eggs, or hire yourself out as a guinea pig and with a quick trip to the internet you can find sites that will tell you how to do it.

With money getting tight there are more and more people looking for things to sell and everyone has blood and hair (well almost everyone has hair). 

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

They Never Told Me.

Now that some TV stations have made the switch to digital, people who are not on cable or satellite are discovering what the Government never told them. Not everyone can get reception even if they bought a converter box or own a digital ready TV.

What no one told them is that it’s not the receiver it’s the antenna that makes the real difference. Sure you need to be able to view digital programming with your TV, but you also need to be able to receive that programming with your antenna and most people were never told their antenna would not do the job. It seems that there are to facts about the digital TV single that no one thought to mention. The single is UHF and it is an all or nothing proposition.

You need a UHF antenna and the single drops off to nothing at the edge of its range. In other words you need a new antenna and even with one there is no guarantee you will still be able to watch your local stations. The only people who really benefit from the switch are those with cable or satellite TV.

Analog to digital TV checklist

Make sure you'll have TV reception after stations cut analog broadcasts

   Associated Press March 2, 2009

  • If you have digital converter boxes hooked up and you get some but not all the channels you expect, you should first force the box to re-scan the airwaves, since some channels may have moved to new frequencies. Some converter boxes don't scan well, so you may have to key in the channel number manually. Check the box's directions, and look at to figure out which channels should be available in your area. Re-scan periodically until after June 12 to make sure you pick up stations that switch late.

  • If rescanning doesn't help, the problem may be your antenna. Outdoor antennas properly pointed toward a TV tower are preferable, but indoor antennas work if you're reasonably close to the tower. Note that antennas should be capable of receiving both VHF and UHF signals — some older ones are VHF-only. Modern indoor antennas are available from $40 to $100.

Friday, February 27, 2009

It's A Miracle

It’s a miracle. I turned on the computer the other day and discovered I had a friend request on facebook. It turned out to be someone I had not seen since my wedding thirty seven years ago. There was a time when I would never hear from him again, but he found me on the internet.

What a world we live in. We are all only a few clicks of the computer mouse away from finding old friends, sharing our thoughts with the world, or buying a new pair of sox on line. No matter where you are, if you have the right device you can connect with the world. You can stand on the corner with a cell phone, take a photo of someone, and send it off into the air for someone to see half a world away.

Do you have a question about something? Ask Google about it and you can find an answer.  Make a phone call and hold a conversation with a machine that recognizes your spoken words and answers you. Call your TV from the Mall and tell it to turn on and start recording a show so you can watch it when you get home.

Fifty years ago if you told someone you could do those things no one would have believed you. Back then the only phone you had was attached to the wall and had a dial, the only computers around would fill a small room, and we only had three chainless on our TV.

What next?

Monday, February 23, 2009

What Ever Happened To Tomorrow Land?

When you live up north and outside your window is a snow storm and you are sick and tired of snow, there are only two things you can do. You can remember last summer when it was warm, or dream about spring. Looking back at the past we can only remember how nice it was and realize we will never have it back again. Looking ahead gives us hope in better times.

When I was a kid we always heard of tomorrow, the twenty first century, and the future. There was a world fair with the world of tomorrow and Disney Land had Tomorrow Land. All of it building a dream of better things to look forward to and better times to come.  In other words hope in the future.

Now we are facing a raging blizzard and we can look back, stare out the window filled with fear, or look ahead to dreams of a better time. Looking ahead is the only choice if we want things to improve. If we can envision a future filled with hope and financial security we will have the will power to make it happen. Otherwise we will either be stuck in the past crying in our beer about how bad we have things.

It’s time for each of us to get a ticket to Tomorrow Land and start building dreams to reach for. We can’t change what has already happened but we must have a reason to keep trying. As our own financial world improves so will the world around us, if we don’t give up the storm will pass and the sun will shine again. 

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Road tax

The president said Friday that we were not going do it now. What you ask is it? It is the idea of switching from a tax per gallon of gas to pay for road repair to a tax on miles driven. You put a G.P.S. device into every car and keep track of how far it’s driven and over what type of roads.

As we as a nation use less gas because of higher prices, more efficient cars, and new electric vehicles the government gets less and less in taxes for roads. It is apparently being considered on both the state and federal level as an alternative to the current system of a tax on gas consumption.

There are two big problems with a tax on distance driven. First of all it would take away any incentive to switch to smaller more efficient cars. Why not drive your old gas guzzler if it’s a matter of distance not gallons. More importantly it would be unfair to a large number of rural drivers who have no choice but to drive long distances on a regular bases.

If you grow up in the city you don’t realize that significant portions of the population have no public transportation and must drive long distances just to shop or work. I live in a rural area and a large number of the people I know routinely drive twenty miles or more round trip just to get to work each day. Wither it’s a tax on miles or gallons they get the short end of the stick. At least with a tax on gallons of gas used they have the chance to get a more efficient vehicle and cut back on the gas they use. With the distance system there is nothing they can do to lessen the burden this would place on them.

Check out these web sites.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


My wife and I have no kids. Thirty seven wonderful years of marriage filled with countless shared experiences both good and bad, but no kids. No kids of our own that is lord knows we had lots that belonged to others. Nieces, nephews, god children, the list goes on is growing with each new generation.

When we were first married our friends had kids and they called us aunt and uncle. Now they’re married and have kids and we’re aunt and uncle again. We have been in their weddings, held their babies when they were born, and even taught some of them to drive. We bought one his first suit and another her dress for the big dance.  We’ve taken them fishing, camping, to amusement parks, and to the mall. We’ve listened to them when they needed someone to tell their troubles to and let them know they had someone to go to when they were in trouble and afraid to tell their folks.

One thing I can honestly say after all this time is we were and are truly blessed. God took what might have been a hole in our marriage and filled it with the best family we could have ever asked for. I can’t begin to imagine what life has in store for us; but if it is filled with even half the experiences of the past thirty seven years, I can’t wait.

Monday, February 16, 2009

My Bike

I started looking at bikes with the eye to getting one this spring. A bike will give me mobility since we are down to one car and my wife has that at work all day. It will also help me get my daily exercise which I need if I want to get rid of my middle-age spread.

Unlike some people my age that have mountain bikes with fancy hi-tech gears and frames, I’m looking at a nice tricycle by Schwinn. First of all it’s a name from my childhood. When I was growing up you either had a J.C.Penney or a Schwinn. Most importantly it has a nice big basket on the back to put things in if I want to take along my camera and tripod.

Not far from my house is White Pine Trail, a Linear State Park also known locally as rails to trails. It is over ninety miles of hiking and bike trail that was once the railroad. With my tricycle I can ride the trail, take pictures, and just enjoy the great outdoors as I piddle myself back into shape.

I am well aware that an overweight old man on a tricycle is not cool. In fact the sight might be considered comical, but I’ve lived long enough to no longer care. What matters is getting back in shape so I can enjoy going places with my wife.

Friday, February 13, 2009


There comes a time in ones life that you must face the fact that you aren’t in control. It comes sooner for some and later for others, but we all reach it. It being the realization that no matter how brilliant the plans we make are, they can fall apart in a flash.

Yet its not having our plans fall apart that hurts the worst, it’s the lack of control. We all start out in life thinking we are the masters of our destiny only to find out that it is controlled by things we have no power to change. That’s the point when we realize we must make the best of a bad situation and go to plan B. After all you can’t change the past, but that does not change the fact that those around you are going to put the blame on you.

There is a poem that I read years ago that says it best.


I'm not allowed to run the train
The whistle I can't blow
I'm not the one who designates
How far the train will go
I'm not allowed to blow the steam
Or even ring the bell
But let the damn thing jump the track
And see who catches hell.


What makes a person great is the ability to except responsibility and start over without dwelling on the past. Suck it up, put a smile on, and try again.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

They Just Don't Get It.

A man who was about to lose his house to the bank suddenly received a generous loan from his folks. They wanted to keep him from going bankrupt so they gave him enough to pay off several bad debits and get ahead on his house payment.

Imagine how they felt when he took a trip to Las Vegas and bought a new big screen TV with surround sound instead. When they confronted him about it he told them not to worry, he hadn’t used any of their money for those things. Once he had paid up those bad debits he had extra money and that’s what he had spent.

His folks had helped him out so he could get back on his feet not buy a lot of fancy toys. It did not mater if it was the loan money or not, if they had not helped he would have been bankrupt. What’s worse, he was back a few weeks later asking for more to fix his car.

The heads of the Wall Street banks that were bailed out last fall because they were going to fail are like that man. The government is like his folks. It’s simple to understand. If they needed the money to keep in business then there should not be trips, toys, and bonuses. It should not and can not be business as usual, that’s what got them where they are in the first place.

Why help them out if they are not going to make changes. They need to tighten their corporate belt and watch their pennies, not buy jets and hold meetings in Vegas. There is no excuse for the CEOs to get a bonus or a huge salary when the only thing standing between the bank and failure is a government loan. They need to stop spending money on wasteful things and get down to the business of getting this countries economy back on it’s feet.

Monday, February 9, 2009


Smile, there’s better times ahead. Things are always darkest before the dawn. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Every cloud has a silver lining. The class is half full not half empty. It’s Monday, a new day and a new chance to turn things around. OK there, I’ve done my part to be bright and cheerful.  Let’s face it it’s hard to see the bright side when all you see around you is a chaos and confusion.

If you will grant me one more bit of wisdom, what does not kill us makes us stronger.  Since strength comes in numbers you need to share your burdens with those around you who care. That’s what family and friends are all about. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help. Maybe they don’t have the resources to do a lot, but at least they can listen and that can make a big difference.

Sharing your burdens can make them easier to deal with and help you see what you need to do. Often we are so blinded by our problems that we can’t see how to handle them. Just talking about them can make them seem less daunting and insurmountable.

Just remember, no man is an island. You’re only alone if you don’t reach out to those around you.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Tax Cuts And Jobs

It looks like there is going to be a tax credit of up to $1500.00 dollars for people buying a new car in 2009, a credit for new home buyers, and tax cuts so you get more in your paycheck. The idea is to encourage people to spend money to get the economy moving.  All well and good, but if my job is not secure or I’m not working because I lost my job why would I want to buy a new car or a house? How can I benefit from more take home money if I don’t have a paycheck?

It does not take a rocket scientist to see that each day we are losing thousands of jobs in this country. I’ve said it before if we want to get the economy back on its’ feet we need to get people back to work. It has been a spiral down effect. Starting slow and small and getting faster and bigger as it moves downward.

Tax cuts and credits are nice, but if the government wants to stimulate the economy they need to spend money to create new jobs and create demand for goods and materials so the factories start bringing back workers.

There are lots of things wrong with the way things have been run and I’m sure there is enough blame to go around for why things are the way they are. We can and must work on fixing the system, but first we need to get people back to work and feeling secure enough that they will spend money.  Until then they won’t buy, goods won’t be produced, and more jobs will be lost.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cabin Fever

It’s February, it’s cold, and I’m tired of all the snow in the yard. In short I’m suffering from cabin fever. I can’t get out and get away, so the only thing to do is get away in my mind. Mentally I need to hop in the car and drive to someplace sunny and warm.  The Golf Coast, California, or one of the south east states like Georgia or the Carolinas.

I’m a Michigan boy born and bred so what might seem cold to some is sunny and warm to me.  When the temperature is below zero, sixty is a heat wave. We have friends who winter in South Carolina so I guess I will head there.

We could run over to Charleston to walk on the beach, see Fort Sumter, and drive down Rainbow Row. Go see the restoration work on the confederate submarine Huntley, visit a plantation or two, and just spend time with are friends. I feel warmer just thinking about it.

Spring will be here in a month or two, the trees will leaf out, and the landscape will turn green again. When that happens I’ll ride my bike on the trail near here, take some photos, and enjoy the warmth of the sunshine. Till then I’ll just have to be satisfied with day dreams.

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Problem With Our World

The problem with our world is that it is being run by a lot of children being paid minimum wage to do jobs that affect the lives of all the rest of us. Many years ago someone told me that you knew you were getting old when you looked around and realized that all the people in charge of the world were kids. Well I must be old because everyone from bank tellers to police people (policeman is probably sexist) seem way too young to be doing their job.

I’ll be the first to admit that they seem to be doing their jobs, but it would make me feel better if they were older. That way they would have more wisdom to go with their knowledge. I’m sure they all have had a good education and lots of on the job training, but knowing how to do their job and doing their job are two different things. One takes training the other takes experience.

Youth is truly wasted on the young. I know that once upon a time we were also young. It’s just that back then we knew so much more than young people do today. Oh if I could know what I know today and live my life over again, just think what I could accomplish.

No, I had my time and really have no regrets about what I did with it. Now it’s their time and they must be allowed to use it. They can not gain experience if they do not go out and make the best of the life they have ahead of them.

As for our world, they probably won’t mess it up any worse than we did. On second thought let’s hope they do better than that.

Friday, January 30, 2009


On January 17, 2009 neighbors in Bay City, Michigan found a 93 year old man frozen to death in his home. The city owned utility company had installed a “limiter” on his electric meter on the 13th and left a note on his door. No one tried to contact him face to face to tell him how the device works. It acts like a circuit breaker to shut off the power when usage exceeds a set amount, the homeowner has to go outside and reset the thing. No one will ever know if he understood what had been done or how it worked. The utility followed its usual policy of just leaving a note.

On January 29, 2009 a reporter for the Detroit News out of Detroit, Michigan received a tip that a man s body was frozen in the ice in an elevator shaft in an abandon warehouse. The body had been found a week earlier by a group of “urban explores” playing hockey on the frozen water that had collected in the buildings basement. It took three calls to 911 over a two day time span before anyone from the city did anything. What’s more there were homeless people living in the building who had known about the body for at least a month.

On Thursday January 29, 2009 the Detroit News told of a man found frozen to death in his truck at his rural home in Sumpter Township. It appears he was living in the truck because there was no heat, electricity, or running water inside the house and he had a heater in the truck hooked to an electric generator outside of it. He was found by metal scrapers passing through his property. He had been dead at least two weeks and no one had checked on him.

In each case someone knew or should have known what was happening. Someone should have checked on them or in the case of the man in the ice reported him to the police. Each one was a case of indifference and isolation. No one checked on them and in each case they were isolated from relatives and neighbors. Each time it was something that should never happened the way it did.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Power Of prayer

In the last year I’ve gone through a lot of things that should have had a negative effect on my life. I had both my knees replaced and went through half the year with only one months pay, about $800.00 from my 401k, and what my wife makes at the shoe factory. In August I started getting disability checks. By all rights we should be in really bad shape financially, but we aren’t and there are two reasons why.

1)      We live on a tight budget. This is something we always have and always will do. When you only have a limited amount to spend you need to keep track of what you have to spend, when you have to spend it, and if you can get by not spending it. A budget allows you to prioritize your spending. Deferring what is important and how much of your income you can afford to use to meet those needs.

2)      Most important of all we had help. When ever things seemed the bleakest, there was an unexpected windfall or things were not as bad as they had seemed. We were able to get by with less than we thought we needed, we were able to spread the payment over time, or there was extra income we didn’t expect. Yes we had help, not from a person but from the Lord.

I was brought up to believe that He was watching over me and if I was willing to put things in His hands He would take care of me. That does not mean that I can sit back and do nothing, nor does it mean that He will give me a fancy car or a big screen TV. It means that if I have faith in Him and bring my problems to Him in prayer, He will provide me with what I need. When I ask for guidance He will show me where to go. I’ve always believed that when life closes the door on you God opens a window. He answers your prayers; it’s just that the answer may not be the one you wanted to hear.

My mother was a real believer in the power of prayer. She was also a believer in what she called laying out a fleece. She would ask God to show her if what she was praying for was what He wanted. I can remember many times after a thing had happened that she would say that it was what God wanted because she had asked for a sign and He had given it to her. Although I lack that kind of faith I know that He will be there when I need Him, and often it will be in a way that says “Oh yea of little faith, did you forget I said I would take care of you”.

I was raised to believe in the idea that if you knock the door will open, if you ask it will be given, but you have to make the effort.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Mr. Obama's BlackBery

Technology, security, and the government of the United States. It is interesting to me that a man who used technology so well in his campaign to become president should find himself limited in the use of technology.

Yet that would seem to be the case. The President finely got the OK to use a Blackberry but it will have limits on who can have e-mail access and no GPS capabilities. It turns out that all e-mails must be saved for security reasons, privet e-mail accounts might get hacked, and as far as the GPS goes the fewer people who know exactly where the president is the better.

Mr. Obama’s security is more important than the ability to remain accessible to the people. Take a look at this from

Obama's new Blackberry: Speculation mounts over details of President's smartphone

Details of the spy-proof smartphone that Barack Obama is believed to have been given to replace his cherished BlackBerry have emerged.

1 of 2 Images
Barack Obama - Barack Obama 'to be allowed to continue using BlackBerry in White House'
Barack Obama joked that aides would have to pry his BlackBerry from his hands Photo: AP

President Obama, a self-confessed BlackBerry addict, famously said that administrators would have to "pry it from my hands" after becoming inaugurated.

Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, said the buzz about Obama's BlackBerry replacement is "almost as exciting as the presidential dog".

He is to be given a secure, souped-up, high-tech personal digital assistant (PDA), fully loaded with encryption devised by the National Security Agency (NSA), which gathers intelligence from cyberspace.

There is speculation that the President will carry a Sectera Edge, made by General Dynamics, the military contractor, and developed specially for the NSA.

The Sectera Edge is a heavy-duty, highly secure mobile phone, one of the few certified by National Security Agency for top-secret government usage.

It was developed under a Defense Department project called SME-PED or Secure Mobile Environment Portable Electronic Device. It costs around £2,400.

The device can switch from an ordinary PDA to a secure communications device at the touch of a button and its screen turns red when used in classified mode to signal that it can communicate only with similar handsets.

The Sectera Edge also includes the option to "exchange secure e-mail with government personnel". It will not be possible to forward presidential e-mails to third parties.

There had been security fears about terrorist hackers being able to pinpoint the president's location. By law, all but the most personal e-mails will be stored in the National Archives.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Eight am on the twenty sixth of January and as I set down at my computer I can see that it is seventeen below zero. I think that is a record low for this date, if it’s not it should be. All in all it has been quite a winter here in beautify Big Rapids. We aren’t running water yet, but at least two places further north are.

Running water for those who don’t know the joys of cold weather is keeping a pencil thin stream of water running to keep the pipes from freezing.  It usually works although there have times they freeze anyway. That’s when you get the fun job of trying to thaw them out.

 There are two ways for your pipes to freeze. The first is all because of the frost. As the weather goes from warm to freezing the frost gets pushed deeper and deeper until it is wrapped around your pipes and they freeze. The other is for them to be poorly insulated or not heated properly.

If you can reach them and they aren’t plastic, you can use a torch to heat them. If they are in the ground you can hire a guy to hook up his welder and send an electric current through them to heat the water and melt the ice. Of course there is always the chance that when they thaw them they will be broken and flood your house.

If you can’t get the water running don’t worry. You can always melt snow; after all there is lots it around. Remember spring will come sometime and than the water will be on again. 

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Our President.

There is a discussion on the CNN group page of Facebook about Mr Obama being the world’s president. That can be taken several ways. What needs to be remembered is Mr. Obama was elected to be the president of the USA and that’s all. As president he is a world leader, not the leader of the world. Most of all he is only a man, albeit a man trying to lead one of the most powerful nations in the world.

He does not lead the world anymore than the USA does. Our ideals and polices can’t be forced down the throats of the world governments. Our beliefs are what have made us strong, but that does not mean they are right for everyone. The my way or the highway attitude has never worked in diplomacy and never will. We can offer support and aide but we can not force others nations to fit into the mold and become like us.

The job of fixing the economy and leading a military that is fighting a multi-front war is daunting enough for anyone. Let’s not endow him with super powers and expect him to fix the world as well.

We must remember that Mr. Obama is a man not a miracle worker. Let us give him a chance to do his job and not hold him to a standard no man can meet.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Symbols Of Power

Watching the inauguration of President Obama I was struck by the symbols of power that were all around him. From the monuments on the mall, to the capital building, to the bands and flags everything represents the power that is behind this man who is now our President.

Of all those symbols of power perhaps the greatest of all were all the people who were there to see the inauguration take place. The people are the true power behind the President. In truth they are the power behind the whole government, they are what makes it work. Our government is of the people and without the people it will not work.

We look to our leaders to guide us through these troubled times, yet they can not solve those problems by themselves. It is up to each of us to step up and do our part. To stop asking what the government is going to do to fix our broken world and instead ask what we can do to make things better.

We have evolved a strange symbiotic form of government. Our leaders can’t exist without the people and we the people must have our leaders to show us the way. The job of steering the ship of state requires either working together or it will run aground.

If the next four years are to be a time of change that change will have to be achieved by all of us doing our part. As another great leader once said “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”. If we stand together nothing can keep us down.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Road Trip

Do you remember going for a Sunday drive when you were young? The whole family would load into the station wagon and head off on a voyage of discovery. If you were lucky your folks might stop at one of those wonderful roadside attractions that I like to call tourist traps. These were distinguished by having some interesting attraction that you could only see if you walked through the gift shop.

Sea Shell City, The Reptile Gardens, Castle Rock, The Mystery Spot, The Dancing Waters, and The Underground Forest are just a few that come to mind. I’m sure there were places we drove to that were beautiful and educational, but nowhere near as interesting as the man eating clam at Sea Shell City or the view from the top of Castle Rock.

Of course there was the trip itself, playing car games like trying to spot the letters of the alphabet on billboards along the road, doing things to annoy your brother or sister, and having dad threaten to stop the car and “come back there”.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ship wreck

Fifty years ago last November in a storm on Lake Michigan the Carl D. Bradley sank. She was a 623 foot self-unloading limestone carrier and when she sank only two crewmen survived. She went to the bottom and was forgotten by everyone except the people from Rogers City, Michigan where most of the crew and the ship came from. She did not get a song like the Edmond Fitzgerald. Like the Daniel J. Morell that when down eight years later by the Mackinac Bridge she has been lost in the fog of history. On November 18, 2008 the people of Rogers City met to remember the ship and her crew. The ships bell that was recovered in 2007 was rung one time for each member of the crew who died that night.

The last three wrecks on the lakes they make one wonder how long it will be till once more the big lakes clam another boat.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Networking Sites

I have a site on Facebook. I got it because I wanted to see what it was all about. A lot of people I know also have sites there. It seems that most of the activity involves this like playing games and sending invites to be friends. Once someone is your friend you get told everything they do and vice a versa. After using it for awhile I began to feel out of place and now I know why.

I just saw a study that shows the median age for Facebook users was twenty seven years old and I am well past that age. While it is nice to keep up with family and people I know who use the site, there is not a lot else here that I find interesting.

Recently I found a networking site that has more to offer me. That site is Eons. Com, a place I like to call Facebook for Baby Boomers. If you want flash back to your youth, talk about your health, or share common interests with a contemporary there is a group here for you. It’s nice to talk about things with someone without wondering if they understand what you’re talking about. At Eons that’s not a problem because the people here have a shared past and they know what you are talking about.

Seventy five percent of 18 to 24 year olds use sites like Facebook while only 7 percent of those 65 and older do. Maybe they fell like I do and just want a place where they feel like they fit in. I won’t stop checking into Facebook to see what’s going on with my family and friends, but I will spend most of my time exploring Eons and making new friends along the way.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Digital TV

Next month the world changes again. Analog TV disappears and it all goes digital. Once more the way we have done things will disappear and we will be dragged kicking and screaming into a brave new world. The line between computers, video games, and television will blur as they become integrated into one home entertainment unit. It will take time, but as people replace their old TVs it will happen. Even if you are using cable or satellite service, the day will come when your old set no longer works and you must replace it.

When that happens we will become part of that new world and there will be no going back. Everything from our phone service to the internet will be linked in some way to that TV and the way we receive information through it. You may never have used a computer in your life but you will now have one wither you like it or not. The service that supplies the TV will also supply our phone and internet service.

I can’t see the future but it does not take a crystal ball to know that things will never be the same again. When you want to watch a show you won’t have to be home to when it’s on, you will just click on shows web site and click play. It will truly be TV on demand.  Surf the net, make a phone call, and never get out of your recliner. The only sure thing is your life will never be the same.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Keep It Simple

Back in high school we had a saying that could save you all sorts of grief; it was “keep it simple stupid” or “kiss” for short. It didn’t seem like an important bit of wisdom at the time, but forty years later I begin to understand just how significant it is. We each waste vast amounts of time looking for complex answers to problems that have a simple answer.

A ping pong ball is in a piece of pipe, how do you get it out if you can’t reach it? You pour water into the pipe and float it out. How do you get a coin off the center of a large rug without stepping on the rug? You rollup the rug until you can reach it. The handle breaks on your microwave oven, fix the handle don’t through out the oven. As a rule of thumb the common sense answer is almost always the simplest answer.

If you try to hard to solve a problem nine times out of ten you will just make things worse. Remember if the TV does not turn on it might just be unplugged. If a vacuum cleaner does not pick up the dirt, either the bag full or the hose is clogged. Always look for the simple answer.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Trash Into Electricity

Gasification of trash.

 A local Michigan waste management company is asking to build a plant to turn trash into gas and make electricity with it. It sounds like science fiction, but it’s not. The process involves grinding up the trash and then turning it into a gas using the high heat of a plasma chamber. Could this mean the end to land fills in the future?

What’s next?

The following  from  explains how it works.

Plasma Gasification

First, garbage is fed into an auger, a machine which shreds it into smaller pieces. These are then fed into a plasma chamber - a sealed, stainless steel vessel filled with either nitrogen or ordinary air. A 650-volt electrical current is passed between two electrodes; this rips electrons from the air and creates plasma.

A constant flow of electricity through the plasma maintains a field of extremely intense energy powerful enough to disintegrate the shredded garbage into its component elements. The byproducts are a glass-like substance used as raw materials for high-strength asphalt or household tiles and "syngas".

Syngas is a mixture of hydrogen and carbon monoxide and it can be converted into fuels such as hydrogen, natural gas or ethanol. Syngas (which leaves the converter at a temperature of around 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit) is fed into a cooling system which generates steam. This steam is used to drive turbines which produce electricity - part of which is used to power the converter, while the rest can be used for the plant's heating or electrical needs, or sold back to the utility grid.

Therefore, aside from the initial power supply from the community's electrical grid, the whole machine can produce the electricity it needs for operations. It also produces materials that can be sold for commercial use so, at some point, the plasma gasification system will generate profit for its users.