issues & thoughts


As a youngster our family lived in a very nice community within walking distance to elementary school.  Quarton Elementary was just 701 yards (.4 miles) from my back door.  From the 1st grade onward I viewed the taller, older "safety boys" with great admiration, respect & a touch of envy. They were posted at each intersection on the neighborhood streets surrounding the school...from my house to the school there were 4 such crossings where "safety boys" stood, arms extended, protecting kids from any traffic or danger.  "I wanna' grow up and be one of those guys!" I likely said to myself thousands of times.  It must have one of the many goals my parents urged me to set for myself & it paid the time I was a 6th grader I was doing my part to keep kids safe.  The badge they gave me has been a cherished keepsake in that shoebox filled with memories that included some of my favorite Match Box die-cast little toy cars & ticket stubs to the '68 World Series, among other treasures.   

Mom passed away Oct. 19, 2017.  To celebrate Mom's life, and her family and our heritage I've created a virtual family photo album  called: "Scan-a-slide" - a mountain of family photos spanning a century! photo page >

Not familiar with the Safety Patrol?  Here's a vintage public service announcement that may help explain on YouTube:

SOLD!  J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store...the fun little shop that Louise launched in 1991 now has a new owner.  Our beloved "little red" wagon that hauled over 4.7 million pounds of the birdseed has such rich patina we couldn't give it up.  Brother John was kind enough to get us a new little red wagon for the new owners of JJ's: Gretchen & Ken Giles - wa-wa-wonder how long will it take 'em to reach 4.7 million pounds?  The original little red now in retirement, too, will be used by Louise to help when filling bird feeders at High Point!

June 7, 2015We're making, on average, 373 kWh of clean energy, monthly. 

Since installing our solar array in 2012 we've generated over 26.1 MWh of electricity reducing our utility bills by over $4,457.  The system is connected to the Consumers Energy grid which means our meter actually runs backwards on bright sunny days.  It's called "net-metering"...and sadly our conservative Republican legislature actually is considering pulling the plug on the program because they do not believe man is contributing to climate change.  Lunatics.  Regardless what these Neanderthals do to our state laws we are making our own electricity & buying less from the power company; more than 1/3 of our household electricity consumption is generated right there in our own backyard.  We've seriously reduced our carbon footprint.

see the data!You can check the data for yourself:  click the sunny icon (left) to see the web-based data tracking.   You'll find we established our single best day:  29.745 KWh on Wednesday 4/23/14.   Ironically our previous record was set on the same day two years previously, 4/23/12:  29.724 KWh.   April, it turns out, is a very good month for solar generation.  

As the chart below illustrates, our solar array is most productive from March through October.  As you may have guessed, December and January are the least productive months for generating electricity in Michigan.  Kinda' cool, is it not, how consistent our solar production has been?

Our installation photostory > 
Links to cool developments and growing potential for solar power:
    solar roadways and parking lots >
    hype-version "solar-freaking-roadways" >
frugal is what frugal does? What sweet delight a quiet life affords. 
       ~ William Drummond

We tend to get our money's worth out of things we buy, and we find joy in being rather frugal.  Pictured here are a pair of Mike's blue jeans that have been mended multiple times...just because they are so darned comfy.  The jeans are amazingly well-made and it seems worth the effort to hang on to 'em.  You see, Louise found a source for great blue jeans that are actually made right here in the USA. They are a bit more expensive than the disposable variety found in Big Box stores - but we think they're worth it.  We think our economy is better served when we make stuff right here in the USA.  Here's a link:

ZOOM!  Louise was saying "sure could use some rain" as she kicks up some dust mowing the backyard.  Actually, I'm kinda' proud of the way Louise tackles some chores like cutting the grass.  99% of the time I tackle the job but it's nice knowing that she is more than capable if she ever needs this winter when I messed up my shoulder.  Louise pitched-in and helped keep the solar panels free of snow.  BTW: our landscaping projects geared to improve drainage around the house has made a grasses sprouted everywhere!  

She's a picker, he's a picker....wouldn't you like to be a picker, too?Louise Wins 2017-18 Contest...By A Mile!

College Football Bowl Season - The 2017-2018 college bowl season was a lot of fun & Louise prevailed again by picking 22 winners - Mike had 20. Not that we watched all the games.  We enjoy watching some sports ...particularly high school & college and decided to make it an official contest "HighPointe Bowl Pickers" back in 2011.  You may have read about it previously on this website. Mike wrote: "He Lacked" when Louise won big that 1st year.  

This year Mike employed a new standard - he refused to select any team without a winning record...and this stubborn position obviously cost him.  Hey!  Sorry folks if it upsets you but why is a team with a 6-6 or worse a 6-7 record, is being rewarded with a trip to a bowl game?  Fourteen teams with less than a winning record were awarded with bowl game appearances. "I advocated we limit the contest to just those games between teams with winning seasons," Mike reasoned.  But even if that rule were followed, Louise would have still won 12-11. 

Another bone I have to pick with college football is the compensation paid to the people who manage these bowl games - in some cases we're talking over $1 million per year.  Doubt me?  Read: "Bowl game executive pay soaring around $1 million" USA Today 12/14/'s pathetic.  These are supposed to be charitable organizations - not another get-richer-quicker scam for the wealthy, well-heeled, well-connected good old boy network...but it seems that's what we have.  The insult to the sport is compounded by the level of compensation modern day coaches are receiving...the average FSB head-coach is knocking down over $4 million, annually, while assistant coaches typically rake in $500K or more.  It's sickening.  Spare me, folks, this has gotten a bit out of hand.

But for now, we'll enjoy a college bowl game provided it's recorded on our DVR so that we can zip past the avalanche of commercials.  We enjoyed watching all eight state high school championship games played right after Thanksgiving and really gave that DVR a work-out!  Louise has won 4 of the past 7 years:

2017-18:  Louise won! 22-20 (consolation - Mike picked Alabama for our national championship)
2016-17:  Louise won! 24-22
2015-16:  Mike won 25 to 20
2014-15:  Mike won 19 to 16
2013-14:  Louise won 22 to 16
2012-13:  Mike won 24 to 17
2011-12:  Louise won 18 to 14.

We have over 1,500 vintage photos like this action shot of Mike & Pat playing football back in 1957. 
See our photos page for links to the albums >

turkey-time at High PointTurkey time - in the early 2000's we began seeing a couple wild turkeys on a regular basis.  Then a dozen.  Then 2 dozen.  Today we've got upwards of 50 crazed turkeys roam around High Point.  They swarm our roof, our yard - and get quite vocal when they think it's "feeding time".  The gang obviously enjoys cleaning up seed debris under our bird feeders and the flock has grown to the point we're finally beginning to question our sanity.  It's gotten out of hand.   So the plan now is to feed further away from the house and gradually reduce the volume of corn and bird seed available to 'em. 

Left:  turkeys feed on seed ribbon Mike spread out the new section of driveway.

Parade of Projects - 2012 was the year for projects! Landscaping around the house to correct drainage issues, installing sump-pump in basement, painting lower level, and replacing deck surface with new cedar boards.  The original deck was built 24 yrs ago...and always had a bit of wobble - but less so now that Mike shored up the structure. 2015 Mike sanded the new surface & re-sealed. Likely he'll get to do that again this summer (2018). a guy and his deck
As with most projects, it took longer than planned - but the new deck surface and benches turned out pretty nice. 

enlarged view >

finally completed
ground source loop - one of five lines buried 5 ft down in our backyardGoing Geo (As in ground source Geothermal)
2011: we installed a new Geothermal heating and cooling system.  Some trees in backyard (stumps and all) had to get cleared, then we had the nice folks from Michigan Energy Services dig five trenches roughly five feet deep and 150 feet accommodate 750 feet of  "GeoThermal loop".   These series of pipes contain fluid that is capturing the earth's energy - in this case a fairly constant temperature (50-55 degrees), which is piped into the basement, connected to our new WaterFurnace to heat and cool our home and supplement hot water heating.  The WaterFurnace is connected to our existing duct-work and operates much, like the natural gas forced air system we had previously, and was installed by the talented folks at Porter & Heckman from Lapeer, MI.   And yes, the Water Furnace was made right here in the USA.  Cool huh? See more: photo-album & video clips >  

inside: a new Geo Thermal "furnace"Meanwhile, Louise and I walk about the house repeating: "we're heating our home with water!"  No fuel oil, no natural gas....just improved technology capturing the power from the sun, stored right here in the soil.  We're loving it so far!   The jury is still out but in the first year using geothermal system our natural gas consumption dropped by over 90%.


hammock lovers....head to toe (times 2)...the rest of the friends
while in college Mike had a roommate who nixed the standard issue dormitory bed in favor of a hammock. Yep, he strung it up with lag bolts secured in concrete walls. Quirky guy that boy we called "2-shirt Tanis" (because he always employed the layered look: shirt on shirt).

Anyway, this isn't a shirt-tale, but rather, a hammock story. Louise has bought a couple of 'em for our little utopia in the woods - strung between two sturdy oaks with the bolts slowly being absorbed by the growing trees. It's a peaceful way to spend some quality time with a good friend: swinging in a hammock. We made a design note to ourselves recently that when it comes time to build a Superior home we'd be wise to incorporate a hammock to be placed indoors so that we could use it year-round (ala' 2-shirt)! See? There was some linkage after all, to these tales. 

a little bomb - see Mike's latest comment >

If some foreign country had dropped 20,000 bombs on the USA do you think we'd notice?
see Mike's archive of past rants >

What happened to the "blog"?  Too much spam.  Given the political landscape in this country, one more ranting voice is certainly not going to make a difference.  I'll continue to write an occasional piece under the heading above: "issues & thoughts". 
revised 03.16.18   The good news: Democrats can regain control of Congress this year.  So far Republicans have lost two recent races in deep RED districts in Alabama & Pennsylvania.  The rest of the Nov mid-term elections can not arrive soon enough!