Our 20th Anniversary Celebration Day 3 of 4 – Breaking the Ice

We started our day off with a small breakfast as provided by Bayside Inn. It was comprised of a variey homemade coffee cake, banana bread, a variety of fruit, cereals, and a breakfast quiche. I broke in my antique coffee pot with some coffee I bought the other day from Uncommon Grounds Roasters here in Saugatuck. I would certainly not stay at Bayside Inn for the breakfast.

After breakfast I spent sometime catching up on my blog and Shannon spent time knitting, and re-knitting a shrug she’s making for her sister. I know, not much of an adventure, but when you’re used to going all the time, doing leisurely things like this are a luxury. I’ve kept up with some of my emails, Facebook, Twitter, etc. but being away physically has been just what we’ve needed to re-spark, refresh, and rejuvenate.

The Carol Ann Ice Breaker in Action

Carol Ann Ice Cutter - Holland, MI (CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE)

The wasn’t a total wash however, because during our relaxation time a drama on the river outside our suite began to unfold. To our delight and amazement, a couple of ice-cutters were docked just next door to our inn. The Carol Ann (Holland, MI) began cutting through the ice flows like butter until she reached a fairly large flow that required several full-steam stabs to get it to break. Below is a video account of one of the stabs.

Honestly, I can’t think of a cooler (no pun intended) way to spend the morning than watching these guys trudge head long into huge ice flows. Even Shannon was having a blast watching the drama unfold. This may be a common occurance here in Saugatuck, but for us it was a real treat.

Our 20th Anniversary Weekend Getaway Day 1 of 4

Thursday February 11, 2010Day 1 of 4

As promised here are the details of day number 1 of 4 of our anniversary. Fortunately for me, my work day was cut short so i was able to slip out and get some much needed prep work done on one of my favorite travel tactics called the “boondoggle.” This is my attempt at adding a bonus day to weekend getaways or vacations. Basically, an unexpected bonus day of travel in which to lengthen the experience as much as possible.

Lexington – Lansing

When I found out we were cutting out of work early I began to scour the internet for a cool place to spend the night before our official weekend was to begin. My favorite travel site is Kayak.com the best for comparing prices of various websites – be it for hotels, car rentals, or flights, it saves time, and if you’re saavy money too! Now, don’t be fooled however. There are times, more often than not, if you call the hotels directly you can actually get a better deal – in my case this was a move with exponential benefits. With Lansing being on the way to our final destination of Saugatuck, I searched for hotels in the area and stumbled upon a recently updated hotel Lexington Lansing. Originally, their price was the same as what was listed on the internet. I inquired about an upgrade which would have been one of two suites they have available. The price was $150 without the suite. With the suite, it was $280! I started back-peddling and said I would stick to the $150 room, which was nice enough. It was a king, non-smoking, and included continental breakfast. As the woman starting putting my information in, she asked what my occassion for traveling was. I indicated to her this was for my 20th anniversary and she said there may be a special. Sure enough there was!

For $165/nt. I was upgraded to the Empress Suite. This included a full breakfast voucher, a 2 room/bathroom suite with king-sized bed, 2 flat screen TV’s, cookies and milk before bed, and chocolate covered strawberries, and a bottle of sparkling grape juice! As you can see, calling the hotel directly brought great dividends. See a personalized video tour by Shannon and myself below…

Thread Bear Fiber Studio and Yarn Shop

A passion for Shannon is knitting. A past time for me is finding these knitting and yarn stores. Our weekend getaways often include trips to yarn stores and coffee shops. If the 2 ever meet in the middle, surely the planets must be aligned and a lottery win somewhere in the near future…just kidding. I don’t believe in either! But knowing how much Shannon enjoys knitting, I find it rewarding to locate these shops online and take her to them.  Many of the shops are located in the heart of the towns and cities we enjoy traveling in, so in addition to yarn stores, coffee shops surface as do shoe stores (a personal favorite of mine…more like an obsession I guess). Lansing coffee shops and shoe stores didn’t surface this time, but getting around the outskirts of the city was fun especially in this college town.

Thread Bear is located at 319 S. Waverly Rd. in Lansing. Be warned however, if you plug the address into your GPS, you may still have to pay close attention to where the store is located. We drove right past the store without realizing it. The plaza’s sign indicating what stores it contained was missing several panels including Thread Bear’s sign. We did find it, much to Shannon’s delight, and my relief!

Shannon’s Ratings are as follows on 5 Knitting Needle Scale (1 = BAD and 5 = EXCELLENT)

  • Yarn Selection = 5
  • Accessories/Notions = 2
  • Patterns/Books = 5
  • Service = 5
  • Organization = 4
  • Location = 2
  • Would Shannon Return = YES

Rae’s Yarn Boutique

We should have stopped at Rae’s Yarn Boutique before going to Thread Bear as it was right on the way. This shop is what my Italian friend calls a “patuzzo.” Which being translated is a speck or a small place. We would call it a hole in the wall. While small in size, they did not lack substance.

Shannon was a little shocked that the owner, Renee or Rae was so young and so introverted. Yarn stores are specialty shops by nature and usually the owners typify some flamboyance and are outgoing. Shannon was pleased overall with the store.

  • Yarn Selection = 3
  • Accessories/Notions = 4
  • Patterns/Books = 2
  • Service = 4
  • Organization = 2
  • Location = 4
  • Would Shannon Return = YES

Rae’s Yarn Boutique is located at 2004 E. Michigan Ave. Lansing. Don’t blink otherwise you’ll miss it. 

 

2009 Military Tribute at Grace Apostolic Church of Clawson

GAC’s Annual Military Tribute was a great success. With the help of the Roseville VFW Post #2358  and the rifle volley, taps, and Honor Guard’s presentation of the colors, the tone was one of reverence, admiration, and patroitism. For more information go to Grace’s website:http://www.gracenewsinfo.com

God bless America and God bless our Vets!

Below is video of the Rifle Volley that took place May 17, 2009

(NOTE: My apologies – the Flanders Field poem that is being read in the background was not picked up by the camera’s mic)

Book Review on “When We Are Free” by Timothy G. Nash

when-we-are-free1Last weekend I had the privilege of attending a 3-day class centered on the book “When We Are Free,” by Timothy G. Nash, Dale C Matcheck, Evgeniy I. Gentchev, Alexander Watts. My professor was Kent Snyder, who in addition to teaching at Northwood is a financial advisor in Troy, MI. I am attending Northwood University in pursuit of my BBA and this May I will be graduating with my associates. After 10 papers, we had to write an overview of this book. Since I took the time to write it, I thought I would share it with my visitors. This is not exactly the most fascinating of reads, but if you are interested in freedom, capitalism, free enterprise, and the role of government in it all, reading this book will indeed open your eyes to the twisted ways in which our government has misrepresented the Constitution of the United States. With government bailouts, welfare, and stimulus packages, our government is not getting smaller, it’s increasing in magnitude. I thought I had a grasp of what freedom was and how it related to how we conduct business, after reading When We Are Free I realized I had a lot to learn…and still do!

Review of When We Are Free by Rodger Mangold

We hear them all the time; terms like free enterprise, capitalism, limited government, socialism, etc. But, when asked to define these terms and relate them to today’s current affairs I admit I would have been hard-pressed. That is of course is prior to having read the book, When We Are Free.

At first glance I thought When We Are Free to be just a collection of essays that would prompt discussion about issues related to the market, but after having read the entire book I find it to be more of a creed by which those that enjoy freedom could further enhance and appreciate what “true” freedom, as it relates to the market could mean. Every-day things we take for granted; full shelves at the local Wal-Mart, interstate and global commerce, supply and demand, currency value, market fluctuations and trends, if left uninhibited by government have proven to be more effective than government policy, legislation, or regulation. When government seeks to overstep its Constitutional boundaries, as it so often is willing to do, the market is adversely affected as has been demonstrated throughout history.

When has the government gone too far, one might ask? How should the government be involved in the market, in our businesses, in our economy? Should the government be involved at all? Our forefathers had the exceptional ability and foresight into the common pitfalls of government and to address those pitfalls through our country’s Constitution. This document is not simply a commentary on how things should be, but rather a contract that every democratically elected public servant vows to uphold. One of the stories that told of a member of congress who misrepresented the Constitution, and was confronted, can be found in Chapter 34, Not Yours to Give by Edward S. Ellis.

Col. Davey Crockett was campaigning along the countryside and was challenged by one of his constituents as having overstepped his Constitutional obligation. In awarding taxpayers’ money to aid those that had lost their homes in a fire, Davey Crockett had violated an article of the American Constitution. Despite the best of intentions, as may well be the case in our modern day, by giving away what is “not theirs to give,” Congress is in direct violation of the Constitution. Congress is not at liberty to provide charitable contributions regardless of circumstance. America has been blessed with thousands of non-profit organizations, philanthropists, and other charitable foundations that can and will come to the aid of those in need. By usurping congressional authority in this area, congress has effectively violated the trust of the American people, and indirectly has stated they know what is better for us than we even know for ourselves.

Some would argue, “Where is your compassion? How could you in all fairness turn people away knowing full-well they were in need of your assistance?” When vowing to uphold the Constitution of the United States, taking liberties as to its interpretation has not been granted to a member of Congress. By overstepping the Constitutional boundaries, they have violated what they have vowed to uphold, and by so doing they trample underfoot the very document that enabled them freedom to run for office and be elected in the first place. A little ironic is it not – holding true to one aspect of the Constitution, but ignoring the other? In an act of true humility and meekness, Col. Davey Crockett publically admitted he had misrepresented the Constitution and would from that moment do all within his power to correct his error, and never again make that mistake. That is true integrity and willingness to set aside one’s pride and ego in true deference to the Constitution, and the American people who elected him. So, a true understanding of the Constitution of the United States, and an adherence to what it says about our government are essential to fully embrace and appreciate the freedoms it guarantees.

When We Are Free is centered on capitalism. As it is described in this book, capitalism is a theory of economics that is not without its criticisms. Some assert that capitalism is rooted in greed, self-interest, and waste. In the chapter entitled, Nine Lies About Capitalism by Madison Pirie, I found the best evidence to support capitalism than anywhere else in the book. Lie, by lie, Pirie combats each with truth, truly dispelling commonly held myths about capitalism. Those that take a seemingly pious view of capitalism and claim it is immoral, according to the author, fail to see how capitalism actually encourages us to put the needs of others above our own. Granted, we are expecting compensation when that need is met, but if we are not sensitive enough to meet that need, or if the incentive were not there (due to capitalism), neither we nor our neighbor benefit. Capitalism is truly the fairest way for both parties to be equally benefitted. Time would escape each myth to be dispelled, but suffice it to say, capitalism versus any other type of economic environment does the best job of creating a fair and balanced playing field for those that wish to invest the time, energy, and capital to improve their lives, and the lives of others.

Overall, When We are Free is an excellent perspective on our government and its role (or lack thereof) in our economy as it pertains to a free enterprise market system. Milton Friedman describes the role of government as follows: to preserve law and order, protect the nation against foreign entities, to establish laws and a framework of rules by which to conduct business, to enforce contracts that have been entered into voluntarily, to provide judiciary to settle disputes, to provide a monetary system, and lastly a “paternalistic role” that would aid people in desperate need of assistance. Sadly, as Friedman points out, the government has expanded its activities in areas not intended by our forefathers, and it is in these areas they are performing so poorly that they are doing more harm than good.

It is my opinion that rather than stimulate our economy, they stifle it. Rather than helping the people who need it, they enable the wrong people causing them to become dependent. Rather than shrinking and limiting their size, they are expanding. And, rather than doing a service to our great Nation, they do a disservice if they fail to uphold the Constitution of the United States.

I am certainly going to recommend When We Are Free to those that have a genuine interest in either capitalism or government. This will undoubtedly shed new insight into the roles of each.

Nate vs. The Water Beetle

This video is not for the faint-of-heart or stomach. We have not been feeding Nathan lately, and it appears that the first defenseless beetle that came along fell prey to the voracious appetite of this all but emaciated and malnourished 16-year-old!

Hey, John the Baptist ate locusts – I guess Nate grabbed the next best thing. Hopefully, he doesn’t get any ideas about wearing camel hair, and I hope he certainly spares us the leather girdle…you think him eating the beetle was ugly!

   4And the same John had his raiment of camel’s hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey. (Matthew 3:4)

Beetle Appetit!

Long Version

Beetle Crunch Only

Do I Make You Proud? By Taylor Hicks

To further commemorate Military Appreciation Month, enjoy this tribute video featuring singer Taylor Hicks.

Lyrics: Do I Make You Proud? By Taylor Hicks

I’ve never been the one to raise my hand,
That was not me and now that’s who I am

Because of you I am standing tall,
My heart is full of endless gratitude,
You were the one, the one to guide me through,
Now I can see and I believe it’s only just beginning

Chorus-
This what we dream about
But the only question with me now
Is do I make you proud
Stronger than I’ve ever been NOW
Never been afraid of standing out
But do I make you proud

I guess I’ve learned, to question is to grow
That you still have faith, is all I need to know
I’ve learned to love, myself in spite of me
And I’ve learned to walk, the road that I believe

This what we dream about
But the only question with me now
Is do I make you proud
Stronger than I’ve ever been NOW
Never been afraid of standing out
But do I make you proud

Everybody needs to rise up
Everybody needs to be loved, to be loved

This what we dream about
But the only question with me now
Is do I make you proud
Stronger than I’ve ever been NOW
Never been afraid of standing out
But do I make you proud

This what we dream about
But the only question with me now
Is do I make you proud
Stronger than I’ve ever been NOW
Never been afraid of standing out
But do I make you proud

Do I make you proud?
Do I make you proud?