Monday, April 30, 2012

A good cup o' Joe

There was a day that I used to stop regularly stop by Starbucks and order a Venti Soy Latte. A decaf in the evening.  But those days are gone.

Now, I hate Starbucks. Maybe it's the silliness of ordering. For those of you who enjoy your mocha choka venti latte half-caf soy cappuccino smoothie -- great. Just give me a good cup of coffee.

Last weekend, during an act of desperation, I found myself inside a Starbucks ordering an Americano. I thought that was a plain as coffee gets at Starbucks.

Even with a lot of cream and sugar, its taste resembled what I imagine battery acid would taste like.

I work with people who cannot pass a Tim Horton's without stopping for a half-gallon.  With it's added chicory, it is double strength battery acid.

In our office, we used to buy whatever was on sale.  Lately, we've been drinking Folgers, but it doesn't have the greatest flavor either.

While some of my co-workers complain about how strong I make the coffee while my friend Wanda ( once told me we make "Church Coffee" in our office.  That's a reference to those 50 cup urns of coffee where people never really know how much to put it, so they put in about three tablespoons to make brown water.

Probably the best coffee, in my humble opinion, comes from McDonald's.  It's always hot and fresh in the morning, when I want my cup of Joe. A runner up would be a brand called Master Chef we had in the office for a while.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Grand View

A view of the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library as seen from the Grand Gallery Overlook level of DeVos Place convention center in Downtown Grand Rapids, MI. That's the Grand River in the foreground.

Part of a totally revitalized downtown, the Ford Museum is a great place to spend a day in G.R.

The view with the naked eye was much more grand.I'm signing up for a camera class for some help using my digital camera.

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Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Old Days

Back in the old days, the local mortuary served as an ambulance service as well. They hearse was used to transport the sick and injured to the hospital and, if they expired, to the mortuary.

This classic Cadillac was on display at the Michigan EMS Expo in Grand Rapids, Michigan last week.

I'm keeping my eyes open for my own classic ambulance.  (If you see one for sale, let me know!)

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Friday, April 27, 2012

Postcard Pay Dirt 2

I don't want to sound obsessed, but here's another piece of Huron County history that found it's way into my hands.

As you can see, the one-cent postcard was sent to the Huron Grindstone Co. in Port Austin, Michigan.  These were cards sold my the post office for sending short notes and other messages in a day when no one was worried about confidentiality.

The postmark is from Croswell, Michigan, another rural community in Michigan's Thumb. Take a look at the year: 1892.  This card was mailed nearly 120 years ago!

As you can see (click on the cards for a better view), the card, dated Aug. 1, 92, was sent by Pastor W. D. Cole, requesting the cornerstone for the Elkton Presby. Church -- ordered by W.H. Wallace of the W. H. Wallace Stone Quarry just west of Pigeon -- be shipped to the Bad Axe Marble Works, Bad Axe, for lettering.

This card represents:
  • Elkton, Michigan
  • Elkton Presby Church
  • W. H. Wallace (Quarry)
  • Bad Axe Marble Works (still in business)
  • Huron Grindstone Co.
  • Pastor W. D. Cole
  • Croswell, Michigan

What a great piece of history!

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Thursday, April 26, 2012


Isn't that an interesting headline?  It's suppose to be a phonetic sound, but I'm not sure it's correct.

It's the sound of someone spitting.

Nice subject huh?

WHAT, and I mean capital W-H-A-T, is up with people spitting in public?

It's one vile act that (usually) men perform and, in most states, it's a crime!

In Battle Creek, Mich., it is a disorderly conduct offense. In Prescott Valley, Ariz., spitting on sidewalks or in public buildings could bring a $500 fine. "Expectorating on a public surface" in Virginia is a violation of state law. And in New York City, letting phlegm fly is a quality-of-life crime that is rarely enforced -- unless the offender is caught in the subway.

Really?  People pee in the NYC subway.

I digress.

My point is that spitting is unsanitary, unhealthy and totally unnecessary.  Unnecessary, unless you're busy performing miracles.

Mark 8:23 says, "He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?”"

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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Blog Before Its Time

Stolen from
Mark Rummel's Facebook Wall.
My friend (and former boss) Mark Rummel recently pointed out that his "All The News That Fits We Print" column in the Progress-Advance (and later the Newsweekly) newspapers, was a blog in the pre-blog days.

How true!

Since two of his former employees, Wanda Eichler (From Under The Willow) and myself, are writing blogs, I'm sure he could get some pointers should he decide to start a blog of his own.

So old friend, I think the gauntlet has been thrown down, the keyboard is in your court!

For my few blog followers, if you're interested in reading MWR's column on the right, just click on it to enlarge it.

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Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Having just returned from nearly four days in Grand Rapids, Michigan, it's easy to tally up a list of my favorite things to do in West Michigan's largest city:

  1. Visit the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum, the legacy of our 38th President who was never elected to the nation's highest office.
  2. Walk across the street to the Grand Rapids Public Museum.
  3. Another amazing place is Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park, a truly breathtaking display of natural and man-made art.
  4. Stop by The B.O.B. -- That's the "Big Old Building" converted into a multifaceted entertainment center and restaurant complex.
  5. Have dinner and join the fun at Mojo's Dueling Piano Bar and Restaurant.
  6. Ride bike along the riverfront.
  7. Check out the grand architecture of the Amway Grand Plaza hotel (where I stayed on my most recent visit).
  8. Head over to the John Ball Park Zoo.

GR is one of my favorite cities.  Check it out for yourself:

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Counting Calories

I'm trying to lose a few extra pounds that I've managed to pack on my not-so-slim waistline.  And my total obsession with chocolate is not helping.

Last night I had a craving... CHOCOLATE!  Sometimes nothing else will do the trick.

Needing to feed my obsession, I stopped by the local convenience store to check out the selection of candy bars.

Because I'm me, I found myself scanning the calorie count on each bar.  Sometimes that's enough to convince my brain that the obsession can wait another day.

Last night was not a night.

I did, however, make a (semi-)decent choice after reviewing some candy bar labels and learned that a Mr. Goodbar, which was my first choice, has 250 calories, while a Hershey's Milk Chocolate with Almonds has 380.  Both seemed like more empty calories that I wanted to ingest.

But honestly, are there any empty calories in a chocolate bar?

Maybe a Kit-Kat bar? Hmmm, 200 calories and I could try to eat just one of the four pieces inside the wrapper.

There they are! An old-time favorite: Mallo Cups! Just 200 calories in a pack and, yes, I did save one for another day.

You can have those 100 calorie packs of rice cakes for your diet-conscious snack, I'll stick with the Mallo Cups.

For your future reference, a Hershey 5th Avenue Bar has 280 calories, while the York Peppermint Patty has just 140.

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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Achy Back, Tired Feet

I should be so lucky to be so thin.
Blurred for effect.
I've spent the last three-and-a-half days running the conference floor during EMS Expo held at DeVos Place in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Expo is one of my favorite events of the year as I get to renew friendships and make new ones.

All the running around makes for a more achy back and some tired feet.  But it's all worth the pain.

It also makes for a tired BareNakedBill as I make may way back to little old Pigeon and the return to the real world.

A hot shower and some Motrin and I'll be good as new.

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Saturday, April 21, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

Melon Cover

Biker Bill wearing his melon cover.
A few weeks ago I wrote about wearing a helmet while riding my bike.  It's a smart thing to do, given the number of head injuries caused by a fall while riding bike.

So imagine my angst when Michigan's Governor Rick Snyder recently signed a bill into law, immediately allowing motorcyclists to ride free of a helmet.

Snyder's predecessor, Jennifer Granholm, vetoed similar legislation not once, but twice.

Michigan's Office of Highway Safety estimates 30 additional fatalities and as many as 127 more incapacitating injuries plus an additional $129 million in additional economic costs.

It's the injuries that concern me. Somewhere along the line, we'll all pay for the care of those inuries.

Oh, there are silly clauses to the law -- riders must be 21 and there is a requirement to carry minimum amounts of insurance.

I think riders should be required to donate their organs should they die or suffer injuries that leave them in a vegetative state.

While I don't ride motorcycles, and never plan to get on one, I do plan to keep my melon covered with my goofy looking helmet.

Biker Bill rides again!

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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Expo Time

Today marks the beginning of a four-day EMS-education event known as the Michigan EMS Expo. Held at the DeVos Place Convention Center in downtown Grand Rapids, Expo brings together nearly 2000 Emergency Medical Services, Fire Fighters, Emergency Physicians and Public Safety/Police Officers.

Continuing education is the main purpose and goal of Expo, but there are relationships and a special bond reinforced between all branches of providers.

I've attended Expo for years and have worked as an Educational Assistant many times.  For the past three years, I've been the E.A. Coordinator.  Our job is to keep assist the speakers, keep the sessions running smoothly and track the attendees so their all-important CEU credits are recorded for relicensure.

I love working this conference, even with all the chaos.  Hopefully, I'll be able to share some photos from the activities of the next few days.

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Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Postcard Pay Dirt!

As I mentioned in last Saturday's blog notes, I was in Kalamazoo at a postcard show. It's a twice-a-year event for me, if I have the time.

I often find a card or two that I pick up and feel satisfied that I'm returning the cards to their home -- Pigeon, Michigan!

This Saturday was a warm sunny day in Southwest Michigan, so I stripped off my jacket and headed into the Expo Center at the Kzoo Co. Fairgrounds.  I was side tracked by a flea market on the opposite side of the show.

The flea market was, well, for fleas.

I wandered into the show, paid my two bucks and sat down at the vendor closest to the door: Wally Jung.  He's the show organizer, so he gets the best spot.  He usually has a few cards of interest to me.

For the record, my collection focuses on cards from my college alma mater: Ferris Institute/State College/State University as well as my hometown of Pigeon and several surrounding communities in Michigan's Thumb region.

Wally's booth lacked anything that I wanted, so I moved on. And on and on and on.

After two hours at the show, I had picked up a couple cards that had nothing to do with my primary card collection.  They were simply interesting.

I took a break to grab an iced tea and ponder the day's lack of purchases, then returned to the show floor.

These shows can be a pain in the butt with people vying for space to belly-up to the vendor's tables.  I had bypassed one vendor because of the crowded situation, but I needed to see what he had for me.

As any good salesman knows, you don't let a potential buyer get away.

"May I help you find something?" came the voice from behind the row of tables.

"I'm looking for cards from a little town in the thumb. Pigeon, Michigan," was my reply.

He scanned the neat boxes with tabbed dividers and pulled out a STACK of cards, handing them over to me.

I had hit postcard pay dirt!

Here are five of the 14 cards I added to my collection.  Many of them I have never seen before, so there's a personal added value to these cards.

German Lutheran Church, torn down years ago. Postmarked 1927
from Berlin, Ontario, Canada. 

Main Street, looking south. I believe the building on the left
is what I remember as the Reimann-Snyder Furniture Store.
Postmarked 1914

Main Street, looking north, probably just north of Hartley Street.
Postmarked 1917

Main Street, looking north at Hartley Street. That house is still
there today. Postmarked 1919

The old school.  Look at the number of kids!
Postmarked 1914 -- that may have been AFTER it burned down.
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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Top 10 Tuesday: Crazy Kitchen Tricks

Kitchen Tricks That Speed Up Your Cooking
(Borrowed from

So you've started beefing up your cooking skills, but the process is still a little tedious. Here are 10 surprising kitchen techniques that will save you a bunch of time—not to mention wow your friends.

10. Deseed a Pomegranate in Seconds Using a Wooden Spoon
If you don't love pomegranates, it's either because you've never had one or you hate how much work they take to deseed. While many people recommend peeling it in a bowl of water, it turns out there's an even faster method: just break it open and bang on it with a wooden spoon. You should have all those seeds in a bowl in about 10 seconds.

9. Stop Peeling Boiled Eggs and Just Cut Them in Half
Peeling a hard boiled egg is a pain in the butt, and there's a much easier way to get to the goods inside: just cut it in half and spoon it out of the shell. It should slip out pretty easily, though you should make sure there aren't any tiny pieces of shell still stuck on it before you go shoveling it in to your mouth.

8. Unload a 12 Pack of Soda Into Your Fridge in 10 Seconds
Most 12 packs of soda are designed to sit in your fridge, but who needs an entire box sitting in there? You can never tell how many you have left, and it always takes up lots of space, even with only one or two sodas in there. To unload it without tediously moving each can one-by-one, just open up both ends, stick it on the shelf of the fridge and push them through.

7. Make Pancakes with a Squeeze Bottle
Ladling pancake batter into a pan is a recipe for a mess. Instead of dripping batter all over the place, put that pancake batter in an old condiment bottle and squeeze it out. You'll get perfectly shaped pancakes without any drips or unevenness. Just make sure you wash that ketchup bottle thoroughly first, because otherwise...ew.

6. Split an Apple in Half Without a Knife
If you don't like eating apples whole (they can, after all, get a little messy that way), but don't always have a knife around, you can actually break them in half with your bare hands pretty simply. Just remove the stem and get a good amount of leverage near the hole at the top. Not only is it convenient, but it makes you look like the Incredible Hulk (you know, sans anger issues).

5. Decant Wine in Less than a Minute with a Blender
True wine lovers use a long, drawn-out process called decanting to aerate their wine before drinking for better taste. True life hackers throw it in a blender for 60 seconds instead. You may scoff at this method, dubbed "hyperdecanting," but it's a quick way to improve almost any red wine. A lot of people have taste tested this method (See the win experts from Vinum Vita share their opinions in the video to the left), and definitely noticed a difference—though whether it's good enough to stand up to properly decanted wine is up for debate.

4. Peel a Head of Garlic in Seconds with Two Bowls
If you have a particularly garlic-heavy recipe to make (so brave!), don't waste time peeling each head by hand. Just crush your garlic as normal and throw it all into a big salad bowl. Then, with another big salad bowl, shake the garlic up for a few seconds, and you should find it's fully peeled and ready for cooking. Just remember to neutralize that garlic breath after the meal with a glass of milk.

3. Peel a Potato in One Step
If you don't want to sit there peeling countless spuds just to get your mashed potato fix, you can use this simple method for peeling them in seconds. After boiling them, place them in a bowl of ice water for a few seconds. Then, just grab it with both hands, twist, and pull apart. The skin should slide right off.

2. Make Quicker, Less Messy Bacon in a Waffle Iron
A list of kitchen time savers wouldn't be complete without something from life hacker extraordinaire Alton Brown. He has a lot of tricks up his sleeve, but our favorite would have to cooking bacon in a waffle iron. Not only does it get you delicious bacon with less effort, but you also don't have any grease to clean up—because once you're done, you can use the leftover bacon grease to cook another piece of your breakfast..

1. Open a Beer Bottle With Just About Anything
Whether you've misplaced the bottle opener or you've found yourself in a situation where you don't have one, don't panic. You can open a beer bottle with just about anything, from a hard countertop to a cigarette lighter to even your forearm. 

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Monday, April 16, 2012


Ed Eichler
I'm writing today's blog at the risk of being called a brown-noser and sounding self-serving. But in BNB-style, I don't care.

I'd like to wish my boss, Edwin H. Eichler, a very happy sixth-fifth birthday!

We're both natives of Pigeon, so I've known the Eichler family -- going back to Ed's parents John and Pauline -- for years.

Ed, as President and CEO of Agri-Valley Communications, Inc. and it's affiliated companies (including the company that employes me), is a successful businessman. But he's not the kind of guy you might imagine leading multi-million dollar companies.

When many businesses locate themselves in large cities or foreign countries, he keeps the companies rooted in the tiny rural community I call home. That translates into being one of the areas largest employers, which is important in a depressed economy and even more important in rural America.

As businesses here close and buildings sit, Ed purchases and renovates them, giving them new life and an appealing appearance. And it would be my guess that deep inside his head, he has plans for a business to put in those buildings.

But he's not all business. There are community organizations, like Rotary Club, and his love for the Detroit Tigers shared with an annual company-sponsored bus trip to Comercia Park each year, and his beloved Michigan State Spartans!

And as busy as this guy is, he still finds time to "run out to the farm" and mow the lawn himself.  I suspect that it's a relaxing task where important business decisions are pondered.

He's also a husband, father and grandfather, proud of his family.

For all these things, and many more, I'm proud to have him as a boss and a friend.

So Ed, on your milestone day, I say thank you for all the support you've given me, my family, the community we call home. I wish you good health and God's blessings today and in the future.

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Sunday, April 15, 2012

When My life Changed Forever

Nine years ago today, Tuesday, April 15, 2003 at about 9:30 am, my life changed forever.

I was in Port Huron with my dad, my brother Denny and my buddy Ron.

That moment in time was when I was wheeled into the operating room and had gastric bypass surgery performed by Dr. Akbar Ali.

My weight lose was rapid -- about a pound a day for the first three month.  I was closing in on the 100 pound mark just before my forty-second birthday on July 17.

And then I hit a brick wall and plateaued. I hung around the 98-99 total pounds lost for over a long, frustrating week. Shortly after my birthday, the weight began pealing off yet again.  When I reached the one-year anniversary of my surgery, I had lost just over 150 lbs.

That first summer I was riding bike and moving more than I had in years.  I actually felt like doing something other than sleeping or sitting in a chair.

Today, nine-years later, I've packed on a few of those lost pounds and they're not coming off as easily as that first summer after surgery. Bariatric surgery isn't a cure, it's a tool. And I know how to use it when I put my mind to it.

So, like I did nine-years ago, I'll watch my food intake (quantity AND quality of food) long with moving more and I'll watch those pounds disappear yet again.

Me in the fall of 2002
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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Bill the Deltiologist

As many of you know, and most of you are learning, I have many many MANY interests.

Ferris Institute, Big Rapids, Michigan. Circa 1890.
Today I'm wearing my deltiologist hat and enjoying the art of deltiology.

To save you the pain of looking up the word, in case you didn't know, here's a more lengthy than you care about definition:

Deltiology (from Greek, deltion, diminutive of deltos, "writing tablet, letter"; and -logia) is the study and collection of postcards. Professor Randall Rhoades of Ashland, Ohio, coined a word in 1945 that became the accepted description of the study of picture postcards. It took about 20 years for the name to appear in the dictionary the first time. Compared to philately, the identification of a postcard's place and time of production can often be an impossible task because postcards, unlike stamps, are produced in a decentralized, unregulated manner. For this reason, some collectors choose to limit their acquisitions to cards by specific artists and publishers, or by time and location.

You can wake up now.

Today I'm in Kalamazoo, Michigan at the Southwest Michigan Postcard Club's semi-annual postcard show.  There are around 35 vendors with hundreds of thousands of postcards for sale or trade. (Photos and blog entry later.)

It's interesting how some people collect cards.  I started my collection years ago when I found a Ferris Institute card in a box at an auction sale. I was instantly hooked and my collection grew. Today, aside from Ferris cards, I collect anything Pigeon, Michigan as well as the surrounding communities.

At one show I met a woman who had a three-ring binder with pages and pages of numbers. I watched as she picked up a card, looked it over, then checked her binder.

Curious, I asked what the number represented.  She told me that was attempting to collect all the postcards produced by a specific publisher. Luckily the publisher had cataloged and included a serial number for all the cards. She told me there were over 10,000 known cards she could collect.

You go girl!  I hope you win the lottery because postcard collecting is not cheap.

My prized possession is a RPPC (Real Photo Post Card) of the Pigeon Railroad Depot shown below, when it was still in use. The postmark on the card is from the early 1900s.  That card was priced at $75 from the dealer, but he knew he would hang onto it for a long time, so he cut me a deal.

Most cards I buy are under $5.00 each, but it's not uncommon to find one I "gotta have" in the $20-$35 range. The value of the card really only what's it's worth to the buyer.

Being a deltiologist isn't cheap, but it sure is fun!

Railroad Depot in Pigeon, Michigan. Circa 1903.
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Friday, April 13, 2012

Friday the Thirteenth

If you’re superstitious, then you probably believe that today is going to be a bad day.  It could be unlucky at the least.

For me, it’s just another day.

There is, however, a 1993 study published in the British Medical Journal provocatively titled "Is Friday the 13th Bad for Your Health?"

With the aim of mapping "the relation between health, behavior, and superstition surrounding Friday 13th in the United Kingdom," the authors compared the ratio of traffic volume to the number of automobile accidents on two different days, Friday the 6th and Friday the 13th, over a period of years.

Surprisingly, while consistently fewer people chose to drive their cars on Friday the 13th, the number of hospital admissions due to vehicular accidents was significantly higher than on "normal" Fridays. Their conclusion:
"Friday 13th is unlucky for some. The risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52 percent. Staying at home is recommended."

The sixth day of the week (Friday) and the number 13 both have negative reputations dating back to ancient times. For some, the fact that Friday the 13th occurs from one to three times a year (there will be three such occurrences in 2012 – January, April & July, exactly 13 weeks apart), symbolizes more misfortune than some credulous minds can bear.
Paraskevidekatriaphobics is the term for people afflicted with a morbid, irrational fear of Friday the 13th. According to some sources it's the most widespread superstition in the United States today. Some people refuse to go to work; some won't eat in restaurants; many wouldn't think of setting a wedding on the date.

It’s estimated that as many as 21 million people fear this day. That’s no fewer than eight percent of Americans.

For me, it’s just another Friday – get the weekend started.

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Thursday, April 12, 2012

New U.S. Energy Policy

It has taken me fifty years of living on this planet to get to the point in my life where I make a great contribution to the world!

I'm sure that once I step forward, others, like myself, will join the cause and together we can solve energy problems for years to come.

So today, I ask all my brothers (and sisters who are bold enough stand with us) to say "HERE WE ARE! WE CAN FUEL A NATION!"

What I've discovered is that, sometime since turning 50 years old -- and perhaps it was before that -- I have a human methane production facility.

It's never ending -- Morning, Noon and Night... Oh Lord, ALL night, I'm cranking about the methane.  Someone just needs to create a reclamation system and the world is set when it comes to this natural gas.

President Obama, if you're reading this: Forget about that pipeline from Canada.  Just run in into my house in Pigeon, Michigan and all the U.S. Energy concerns are pretty much eliminated.

What a wonderful feeling I would have knowing my contributions are helping humanity heat their homes and drive their cars.

Of course, if Energy Secretary Chu isn't interested, perhaps I can speak with Defense Secretary Panetta... cause this stuff is deadly!

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

AnGRy BirDs

I have Angry Birds on my Kindle Fire.

For the non-game playing readers, Angry Birds is a video game and I'm totally hooked.  My eight-year-old nephew Justin has been playing it on his dad's smart phone for over a year.

Angry Birds is a strategy video game developed Rovio Mobile with over 12 million copies of the game purchased for play. (Do you have your copy yet?)

In the game, players use a slingshot to launch birds at pigs stationed on or within various structures, with the intent of destroying all the pigs on the playing field. As players advance through the game, new birds appear, some with special abilities that can be activated by the player.

Angry Birds has been praised for its successful combination of addictive gameplay, comical style, and low price.

Each level starts with the number, types, and order of birds pre-determined. If all of the pigs are defeated by the time the last bird is used, the level is completed and the next level is unlocked. Points are scored for each pig defeated as well as for damage to, or destruction of, structures, and bonus points are awarded for any unused birds.

Upon completing each level, players receive one, two, or three stars, depending on the score received. Players may re-attempt unlocked levels as many times as they wish in order to complete them successfully or to earn additional points or stars.

Angry Birds is so wildly popular that it has spawned Angry Birds Seasons, Angry Birds Rio, and Angry Birds Space.

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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Tuesday Tally: TITANIC

Today, Tuesday, April 10, 2012 marks the centennial anniversary of the launch of the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic. She set sail from Southampton in England headed for the cosmopolitan city of New York.

As the world knows, the Titanic never arrived.

Instead the ship became a huge maritime disaster, certainly the most studied and talked-about, in the history of humankind. After striking an iceberg in the North Atlantic off of the coast of the (now) Canadian province of Newfoundland, the ship took about 2-and-a-half hours to sink, going down at 2:20 a.m. on April 15.

Some things you might not have known about that fateful voyage:

1. Canceled Lifeboat Drill
Originally, a lifeboat drill was scheduled to take place on board the Titanic on April 14, 1912 - the day the Titanic hit the iceberg. However, for an unknown reason, Captain Smith canceled the drill. Many believe that had the drill taken place, more lives could have been saved.

2. Only Seconds
From the time the lookouts sounded the alert, the officers on the bridge had only 37 seconds to react before the Titanic hit the iceberg. In that time, First Officer Murdoch ordered "hard a-starboard" (sharp left turn). He also ordered the engine room to put the engines in reverse. The Titanic did bank left, but it wasn't quite enough.

3. The Titanic's Newspaper
The Titanic seemed to have everything on board, including its own newspaper. The Atlantic Daily Bulletin was printed every day on board the Titanic. The newspaper included news, advertisements, stock prices, horse-racing results, society gossip, and the day's menu.

4. Lifeboats Not Full
Not only were there not enough lifeboats to save everyone on board, most of the lifeboats that were launched off the Titanic were not filled to capacity. For instance, the first lifeboat to launch, Lifeboat 7 from the starboard side) only carried 24 people, despite having a capacity of 65 (two additional people later transferred to Lifeboat 7 from Lifeboat 5). However, it was Lifeboat 1 that carried the fewest people - only seven crew and five passengers (a total of 12 people) despite having a capacity for 40.

5. Only Two Bathtubs
Although most passengers had to share bathrooms (only the two promenade suites in first class had private bathrooms), third class had it rough with only two bathtubs for more than 700 passengers.

6. Another Boat Was Closer for Rescue
When the Titanic began sending out distress signals, the Californian, rather than the Carpathia, was the closest ship; yet the Californian did not respond until it was much too late to help. At 12:45 a.m. on April 15, 1912, crew members on the Californian saw mysterious lights in the sky (the distress flares sent up from the Titanic) and woke up their captain to tell him about it. Unfortunately, the captain issued no orders. Since the ship's wireless operator had already gone to bed, the Californian was unaware of any distress signals from the Titanic until the morning, but by then the Carpathia had already picked up all the survivors. Many people believe that if the Californian had responded to the Titanic's pleas for help, many more lives could have been saved.

7. Two Dogs Rescued
With the order for women and children first into the lifeboats, plus the knowledge that there were not enough lifeboats for everyone on board the Titanic to be saved, it is a bit surprising that two dogs made it into the lifeboats. Of the nine dogs on board the Titanic, the two that were rescued were a Pomeranian and a Pekinese.

8. The Fourth Funnel
In what is now an iconic image, the side view of the Titanic clearly shows four cream and black funnels. While three of these released the steam from the boilers, the fourth was just for show. The designers thought the ship would look more impressive with four funnels rather than three.

9. A Royal Mail Ship
The R.M.S. Titanic was a Royal Mail Ship, a designation which meant the Titanic was officially responsible for delivering mail for the British postal service. On board the Titanic was a Sea Post Office with five mail clerks (two British and three American). These mail clerks were responsible for the 3,423 sacks of mail (seven million individual pieces of mail) on board the Titanic. Interestingly, although no mail has yet been recovered from the wreck of the Titanic, if it were, the U.S. Postal Service would still try to deliver it (the USPS because most of the mail was being sent to the U.S.).

10. Corpses Recovered
On April 17, 1912, the day before survivors of the Titanic disaster reached New York, the Mackay-Bennett was sent off from Halifax, Nova Scotia to search for bodies. On board the Mackay-Bennett were embalming supplies, 40 embalmers, tons of ice, and 100 coffins. Although the Mackay-Bennett found 306 bodies, 116 of these were too badly damaged to take all the way back to shore. Attempts were made to identify each body found. Additional ships were also sent out to look for bodies. In all, 328 bodies were found, but 119 of these were badly damaged and thus were buried at sea.

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Monday, April 9, 2012

Confident, not Arrogant

Arrogance requires confidence, but
confidence doesn't require arrogance.
Last week I sent an email that ignited a firestorm of discussion when the recipient decided to share it with others.

It was a simple two- or three-sentence email that asked, what I believed, was a appropriate question regarding a task I was expected to perform. I don't think the recipient was ready for the question and didn't have an answer. That was the fuel for the flame.

My very opinionated comments that ended the short email was obviously what fanned the flames.

What's annoying to me is the conversations that have swirled among those who know about the email.  Mostly attacks on my character, calling me "ballsy" and "arrogant."

Seriously? That got me thinking: What does that mean?

ballsy: balls·y (bôl z ). adj. balls·i·er, balls·i·est Vulgar Slang. Very tough and courageous, often recklessly or presumptuously so.

arrogant:  adj. Having or displaying a sense of overbearing self-worth or self-importance. Marked by or arising from a feeling or assumption of one's superiority toward others: an arrogant contempt for the weak.

Hmmm.  I may be a little ballsy at times.  I'd like to think that I'm tough and courageous, but I try to never been reckless or presumptuous. I certainly hope that I don't have a sense of overbearing self-importance.

As I said, the email recipient wasn't prepared to answer my question and that angered him.  If I posted his name, many of you would think "pot calling the kettle black."

I prefer to think of myself as confident and self-assured.

confident: con·fi·dent  (knf-dnt). adj. Marked by assurance, as of success. Marked by confidence in oneself; self-assured.

self-as·sured: (slf-shrd) adj. Having or showing confidence and poise.

Confidence vs arrogance both involve believing in one’s abilities.

A person who is confident understands they have certain areas of strength. A person who is arrogant also believes that have certain areas of strength.

A person with confidence will also understand others maybe stronger, and that each person is a complete package of strengths and weaknesses so will remain humble in both. An arrogant person will often neglect to acknowledge weakness in light of playing up the strengths.

I'm very confident I'm not arrogant.

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Sunday, April 8, 2012


John 11:25-26
Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life.
He who believes in me will live, even though he dies;
and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.

MATTHEW 27:11-66

Jesus before Pilate
11 Meanwhile Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor asked him, “Are you the king of the Jews?”

“You have said so,” Jesus replied.

12 When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. 13 Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” 14 But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the governor.

 15 Now it was the governor’s custom at the festival to release a prisoner chosen by the crowd. 16 At that time they had a well-known prisoner whose name was Jesus Barabbas. 17 So when the crowd had gathered, Pilate asked them, “Which one do you want me to release to you: Jesus Barabbas, or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” 18 For he knew it was out of self-interest that they had handed Jesus over to him.

19 While Pilate was sitting on the judge’s seat, his wife sent him this message: “Don’t have anything to do with that innocent man, for I have suffered a great deal today in a dream because of him.”

20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus executed.

21 “Which of the two do you want me to release to you?” asked the governor.

“Barabbas,” they answered.

22 “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” Pilate asked.

They all answered, “Crucify him!”

23 “Why? What crime has he committed?” asked Pilate.

But they shouted all the louder, “Crucify him!”

24 When Pilate saw that he was getting nowhere, but that instead an uproar was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd. “I am innocent of this man’s blood,” he said. “It is your responsibility!”

25 All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”

 26 Then he released Barabbas to them. But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified.

The Soldiers Mock Jesus
 27 Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. 28 They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, 29 and then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on his head. They put a staff in his right hand. Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. 30 They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again. 31 After they had mocked him, they took off the robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him away to crucify him.

The Crucifixion of Jesus
 32 As they were going out, they met a man from Cyrene, named Simon, and they forced him to carry the cross. 33 They came to a place called Golgotha (which means “the place of the skull”). 34 There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. 35 When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they kept watch over him there. 37 Above his head they placed the written charge against him:

38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him. 42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him, for he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 In the same way the rebels who were crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

The Death of Jesus
 45 From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land. 46 About three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

 47 When some of those standing there heard this, they said, “He’s calling Elijah.”

 48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink. 49 The rest said, “Now leave him alone. Let’s see if Elijah comes to save him.”

 50 And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit.

 51 At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split 52 and the tombs broke open. The bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. 53 They came out of the tombs after Jesus’ resurrection and went into the holy city and appeared to many people.

 54 When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!”

 55 Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for his needs. 56 Among them were Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of Zebedee’s sons.

The Burial of Jesus
 57 As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. 58 Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. 59 Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away. 61 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were sitting there opposite the tomb.

The Guard at the Tomb
 62 The next day, the one after Preparation Day, the chief priests and the Pharisees went to Pilate. 63 “Sir,” they said, “we remember that while he was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I will rise again.’ 64 So give the order for the tomb to be made secure until the third day. Otherwise, his disciples may come and steal the body and tell the people that he has been raised from the dead. This last deception will be worse than the first.”

 65 “Take a guard,” Pilate answered. “Go, make the tomb as secure as you know how.” 66 So they went and made the tomb secure by putting a seal on the stone and posting the guard.

MATTHEW 28:1-20

Jesus Has Risen
 1 After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

 5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

The Guards’ Report
 11 While the women were on their way, some of the guards went into the city and reported to the chief priests everything that had happened. 12 When the chief priests had met with the elders and devised a plan, they gave the soldiers a large sum of money, 13 telling them, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came during the night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14 If this report gets to the governor, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15 So the soldiers took the money and did as they were instructed. And this story has been widely circulated among the Jews to this very day.

The Great Commission
 16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

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Saturday, April 7, 2012

Sunday Funnies

A Peanuts comic strip from June, 1960.
I buy the Sunday paper just about every week.  I'd like to say it's for all the valuable "news" that fills the pages, but that would be a lie -- and the topic for another blog post/rant.

Mostly I pick up the newspaper for the sale flyers advertising merchandise I really don't need, but might want to buy. I thumb through most of them then toss the ones promoting items that don't interest me.

I don't even look at the TV Listings.  I generally can't make heads or tails as to what is one when and, with DirecTV, why bother when I have a channel guide at my fingertips?

My paper has the Parade Magazine.  Again, magazine is a very loosely used term for a few sheets of paper with stories that contain the substance of boiled water.

Even the poor Sunday Funnies are lacking the excitement of my youth.

When I was a kid I read Peanuts, Hi and Lois, Dick Tracey, Nancy (and Sluggo), the Lockhorns and many others.  Today's comics lack anything interesting.

Maybe it's my age showing.  Are the Sunday Funnies, not so funny anymore?

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Friday, April 6, 2012

Uncle Bill

There are moments in your life that you may never forget: getting your driver's license, graduating from school, your prom, weddings, births, deaths, vacations... the list is nearly endless.

One of those moments in my life happened 42 years today, April 6. I remember the moment vividly, because I had anticipated it for several months.

Old Polaroids of Uncle Bill and his new niece Gina, April 1970.

I was standing in the hallway outside the door of my third grade classroom, in line to walk to the cafeteria for lunch.  I'm sure I was chatting with my friends when I spotted my mother coming down the hall, smiling from ear to ear.

It knew IT had happened, I could see the joy on her face and I was filled with the excitement as well.

"It's a girl," my mother told me, confirming the birth of my niece, Gina Renee Esch.

I had become, at eight-and-a-half years old, Uncle Bill.

And I was a proud uncle as well as I passed out bubble gum cigars to my classmates later that day.

Of course, over the years, that excitement has been repeated as more nieces and nephews and now great-nieces and nephews are born.

I feel blessed to be... Uncle Bill.

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Thursday, April 5, 2012

Take Me Out To The Ball Game!

Today is the home opener for our beloved Detroit Tigers!

Ah, nothing says SPRING like the crack of a bat when it hit a baseball at the Opening Day game. Whether your at the game, which will be standing room only today, or watching it on the TV, you just feel the excitement in the air.

Sadly, I'm a bit of a fair-weather fan.

I'm not one of the FANatics who has to listen to / watch / attend each and every game.  No, I just follow the team and listen to others as they talk about the standings and the great game I missed.

That's not to say I don't enjoy baseball -- and I do LOVE the Tigers.  Seriously, what true Michigander doesn't love the Tigers?

If I'm lucky, I'll get to Comerica Park for a game or two during the season. But even as much fun as that can be, I always dread the drive home and miss the play-by-play and the replays of the action on the field.

I miss George Kell and Ernie Harwell too, they were the familiar voices of the Tigers when I was a kid.

Fair-weather fan or total Tiger Fanatic, it's Spring and the 'Boys of Summer' have started their season.

And whether I'm there in body or spirit, you can take me out to the ball game.

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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Resistance is Futile

When I don't want to do something... I drag my feet.  I think we all do that from time to time.

Sometimes the foot dragging turns into digging in my heels. Ignoring the "problem" won't make it go away.

Today is THE day.  April 4 is the deadline for TIMELINE.

Facebook is forcing me to launch my Timeline profile page today.  Gawd I hate Facebook.

I didn't totally ignore the change.  Late last week I created a "cover photo" so I looked like I cared about my Facebook account. But I didn't push the publish now button.  Facebook is going to be the bad guy on this one.

To be honest, I don't really give a rip... a small tear maybe, but not a rip.

Many of you read my blog off the link I post there everyday, so you know what my Timeline looks like.  If you come to the blog from somewhere else, you can checkout my Facebook Timeline at:

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Tuesday Tally: 10 Facts about Easter

Ten Facts about Easter

Fact 1: Over 90 million chocolate Easter bunnies are produced each year.

Fact 2: 600 million eggs are usually sold in USA during the months of March and April.

Fact 3: After Halloween, Easter is the biggest candy consuming holiday.

Fact 4: The first chocolate eggs were made in Germany in the 19th century

Fact 5: Americans consume more than 16 billion jellybeans at Easter,

Fact 6: The first Easter baskets were made to imitate bird nests

Fact 7: 76 % eat the ears on chocolate bunnies first.

Fact 8: Solving murder mysteries is very popular in Norway during Easter.

Fact 9: The world’s largest jar of jelly beans weighed 2744 kilograms.

Fact 10: The traditional act of painting eggs is called Pysanka.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

The B-I-B-L-E

The B-I-B-L-E, yeah that's the book for me
I stand alone on the word of God
The B-I-B-L-E.

That's a song I learned years ago in Sunday school.  It seems like there are other verses, but this chorus is what I can still recall.

It came to my mind the other day as I was online shopping at

I'm looking for a Bible, New International Version (NIV).  Shouldn't too difficult right?

WRONG!  I want it for my Kindle Fire.

I got a chuckle out of reading the reviews from customers who had previously purchased one or more of the several options available.

"Not worth the price ($19.95); Difficult to read; Not what I expected."

I was dumbfounded.  Then I saw a review that said, "I think the previous reviewers had the same experience as mine. The layout and ability to navigate are difficult and not what was expected.  It may not be worth the price you pay."

Oh, so they're not reviewing the content like the latest Twilight novel!  Whew.  That's a relief.

Hopefully I can find a Kindle-Copy that will work for me. Then I can sing:

The digital B-I-B-L-E, yeah that's the ebook for me
I stand alone on the word of God
The digital B-I-B-L-E.

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

Palm Sunday

Today is Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, when Christians celebrate the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem, the week before his death and resurrection. For many Christian churches, Palm Sunday, often referred to as "Passion Sunday," marks the beginning of Holy Week, which concludes on Easter Sunday.

The event is recorded in all four Gospels. (Mark 11:1–11, Matthew 21:1–11, Luke 19:28–44, and John 12:12–19).

The Bible reveals that when Jesus entered Jerusalem, the crowds greeted him by waving palm branches and covering his path with palm branches. Immediately following this great time of celebration in the ministry of Jesus, he begins his journey to the cross. 

Laying palm branches before someone on a path was considered one of the highest honors. The donkey, according to Eastern tradition, is consider an an animal of peace.

Imagine yourself standing among the crowds cheering, singing and waving the palm branches for Jesus, before his death and resurrection, not knowing what fate was ahead for him.

The glory of the Holy Week's events are truly miraculous.

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