Sending the government to the Weight Loss Camp (i.e. “Fat Farm”) or Can Government win “The Biggest Losers”?

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Okay, I think I  may get highly political in this column today.

First, let me say that I think the current government impasse — lack of funding — is a bad thing. Our government ought to be able to work together.

Second, let me say that the results of the lack of funding may be a good thing.

Major stories have been calling this a government shut down.  Talk about a misuse of the English language.  How can you call it a shutdown if 83% of the government is still running?

What this really is is a government slim down. The only way a person loses weight is to cut calories. The only way to balance a budget is to limit spending.

(I know, some of you are thinking, you can raise income to balance a budget. For a government this means taxes, of course. The problem with this, is the same thing that happens to the dieter who decides to lose weight by working out more — if you burn more calories, you consume more, and 9 out of 10 times you consume more than you burned.  Same with increasing taxes. In both cases, if you aren’t thinking about controlling the other end at the same time, it never works.)

Sometimes a person finds themselves unable to do it themselves, so they hire a weight loss coach, or go to a weight loss camp where they are prevented by others from eating what they shouldn’t, to lose weight.

Well, this government slim down is the same thing for our government.  And it is showing  that the government doesn’t have to spend all the money it has been spending, and the world still can go on.

Obviously, the real solution is to make those cuts, and those spending decisions, together, rationally, and not hit all the same sensitive areas. But since that couldn’t be done, government has gone to the fat farm. I hope they stay there long enough to have real success, and come back out able to continue the weight loss regimen.

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Homecoming 2013 — New and Old

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Homecoming was a long day, and somewhat different than the homecomings I remember from the student side. I kept on feeling like their should be a homecoming parade. Instead, there was a fall festival on the quad.

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When I mentioned the lack of parade, my classmates talked about it probably stopped when the students finally gave up on all the time they took putting those floats together.  Which made me recall how little effort I put into those floats during my 4 years.

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For we alumni, the day consisted of breakfast, followed by a “chat” with President Mullen in Gillette (translated East) Hall lounge. Topics of the chat, which was a Q&A, included the impact of Obamacare on the college (answer, don’t think it will have a big impact, but like most people we don’t really know the full impact), how Houghton was reacting to Moody Bible Institute’s allowing smoking and drinking by its employees, and what response the college had to people’s complaints about students that attend a Christian College and end up “losing” their faith.

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After the chat, we walked quickly through the Fall Festival to reach our assigned room where the class of ’88 was to meet and greet and get reaquainted.

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Some people I recognized right away — and knew their names.  Others I did but couldn’t place names, and others I just didn’t recognize until they introduced themselves.

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A couple of people told me I hadn’t changed at all. I wasn’t sure exactly how to take that “compliment” A simple comparison of my recent photos on Facebook should show drastic changes in at least the superficial appearances.

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About halfway through our hour some people suggested a class photo, and we all walked outside, deciding on Fancher Steps as a good place to take a photo. We lined up our cameras on the edge of the walk, and some of the non-class spouses helped with everyone’s cameras, and took pictures for everyone.

Then we milled around outside and chatted, until an “official” college photographer, which we were unaware had been assigned to us, came by and took our picture.  But he didn’t want to take it on the steps, but at the foot of the steps.

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Lunch was next (there was a lot of food over the weekend), and then Betsy and I went down to the ribbon cutting for the new Alumni house. The old Walldorf house was now renovated and refurbished into the alumni house.  It looked really neat inside — a lot of bedrooms decorated well.

But we still don’t know what an alumni house is or means. President Mullen mentioned it as a connection between current students and alumni, but just how I am not sure. What I can find on the college website mentions it as ” place where Houghton alumni can meet together and where out of town guests who are alumni can stay the night.” But it doesn’t mention cost.

After the ribbon cutting ceremony Betsy and I walked up to the sports fields to see what was going on. Some people had been up there much earlier, as the field hockey team played at noon, followed by women’s soccer at 2 p.m. and men’s soccer at 4 p.m.

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To get there we had to walk past my old dorm, Shenawana.  It looked the same from the outside, and I didn’t look to see what it was like on the inside.

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When we went by the women’s soccer team was doing well, and we could see a lot of construction going on for the fields and new buildings of the new athletic center.

Not being sports fans, Betsy and I didn’t stay for the remainer of the soccer games, though we learned later that rain didn’t deter the Houghton men from winning their game, much as fair weather  favored the Houghton women.  No opponent scored against Houghton soccer on Homecoming Day.

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The Alumni events closed with the Alumni Banquet.  They put some 120-plus of us in the Nielsen gymnasium, seated by class groupings (3 tables for ’88), and the entire program was to sit and chat among the classmates.

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The final event of the evening was the Senate Spot at 10 p.m.  Betsy and I went and stayed until 11:45 p.m.  We wore our earplugs through most of it for volume sake.  Some of it was rather fun, but a lot of it was stuff we obviously didn’t get.  But it reaffirmed to both of us why we didn’t usually attend these spots while we were in college.

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We ended the weekend with breakfast Sunday morning, fellowshipping with old classmates in a worship service, complimentary refreshments after the service (food, food, food), and then starting the drive home.

Houghton College — Founder’s Day 2013

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Quick blog at end of a long first day of Homecoming weekend.

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Day started out with Founder’s Day chapel.  I could say a lot about the excellent chapel speaker (and he was good), but I won’t. As many blogs, I’ll make comments on the minutia of things.

The Houghton College Choir sang at chapel.  As an Alum of both college and choir, I was very interested, and very pleased, to hear them sing.  I have even taped and uploaded the video of them on the class Facebook site. But the part I was also interested in was their robes.  They looked very good in the burgundy/purple robes.  I remember the black  “sack” dresses the ladies wore during my day, and the tuxes  we men wore.  I think robes are a much better option.

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Second thing I’ll mention is roaming the campus, and listening to the Wind Symphonia practicing on the chapel steps.  We heard songs from the national anthem, to game fight type songs, to Vader’s theme from Star Wars, (whatever the official title is).  I have some clips of those, which I may upload, if I get time and if our linkage is fast enough to get them put up.

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While they were playing on the chapel steps, a pickup game of frisbee football (or frisbee something), was going on on the quad. We watched the students playing there as we we listened to the music, until both broke up.

The only people from the class of ’88 we saw besides ourselves were the Schlaegels, who had both their kids in tow. Since more are signed up to attend, we expect to some of them tomorrow.

College Reunion Ho!

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The past two days has been a a half-country driving spree, from Kansas City, MO, to Caton, NY. This morning I sit writing in the kitchen of my mother and sister’s house, preparing to head over to Houghton College for our 25th college reunion.

The drive itself had some interesting points.  Let me make this a quick one.  I watched gas prices across our trip, and will list them below, along with comments from a couple of points along the trip:

$3.12 Sam’s Club, Kansas City, MO

$3.15 Kearney, MO

$3.19 Cameron, MO

Saw signs along the shoulder of State Route 36: “Harvest Season, watch for farm vehicles”. And we did see a couple.  One we were trying to pass, and it suddenly moved into the middle of the two lanes in front of us.  At first we thought it was trying to prevent us passing.  But then we realized he was coming to a bridge, and didn’t want to hit the guardrail on the side.  Once we got over the bridge we were able to pass easily.

$3.19 Macon, MO

$3.15 Hannibal, MO

“Bicycles must use right shoulder.” We found this in Hannibal on Interstate 72.  I was trying to figure out why bicycles were being allowed on the interstate.  But the sign was on the entrance ramp right before the bridge across the Mississippi River, and they were told to exit on the first ramp on the Illinois side.  Since that is the only bridge across the Mississippi River they are apparently allowed to use the bridge — a triumph for bicycle rights!

$3.29 I55 north of Decatur, IL

Traffic advisory sign above road: “755 deaths this year, buckle up.”

$3.55 outside Chicago, IL

Traffic advisory sign above road” “754 deaths this year, buckle up.”

I know I shouldn’t joke about something this serious. But it was interesting that the number of deaths this year went down — we speculated whether one of the people had come back to life.

$3.17 Maumee, OH

We ran into a lot of construction on the Indiana and Ohio turnpikes.  Think we’ve decided on the way back to not take the turnpikes.  If we are going to go through construction, we don’t want to pay for the privilege of driving through it.

$3.23 TA station in Toledo, OH

It seemed like all the signs we saw for TA stations were higher than the ones right next to it.

$3.39 Erie, PA.

Stopped at the Quaker Steak & Lube for lunch.  We’d driven by so many times, and finally decided to try it out.  Wasn’t what we expected — based on the name I expected a steak/burger place — but their specialty is Wings.  We had their $9 buffet, and enjoyed it immensely. The ambiance was a 50’s diner with cars and motorcycles motif.  Had a wonderful waitress Sandy.

$3.69 South Corning, NY

As we sit this morning waiting to go over, we are hearing rain on the roof.  Supposed to clear out today and be a perfect day tomorrow.  Hope so. Looking forward to seeing people we haven’t seen in years, and getting to see how the college has changed.