Monday, August 31, 2009

Constitution Monday-Article 1

Article. I.

Section. 1.

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Section. 2.

The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of the State Legislature.

No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be chosen.

Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers, which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons, including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three fifths of all other Persons. The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to chuse three, Massachusetts eight, Rhode-Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut five, New-York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five, and Georgia three.

When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.

Section. 3.

The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each State, chosen by the Legislature thereof for six Years; and each Senator shall have one Vote.

Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election, they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise, during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which shall then fill such Vacancies.

No Person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.

The Senate shall chuse their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the Absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to Law.

Section. 4.

The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except as to the Places of chusing Senators.

The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a different Day.

Section. 5.

Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do Business; but a smaller Number may adjourn from day to day, and may be authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and under such Penalties as each House may provide.

Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for disorderly Behaviour, and, with the Concurrence of two thirds, expel a Member.

Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.

Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that in which the two Houses shall be sitting.

Section. 6.

The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other Place.

No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

Section. 7.

All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate, shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United States: If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be determined by yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law, in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.

Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment) shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.

Section. 8.

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

To provide and maintain a Navy;

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;--And

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

Section. 9.

The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a Tax or duty may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.

The Privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.

No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.

No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or enumeration herein before directed to be taken.

No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.

No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the Ports of one State over those of another; nor shall Vessels bound to, or from, one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.

No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.

No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State.

Section. 10.

No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder, ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any Title of Nobility.

No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing it's inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress.

No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any Duty of Tonnage, keep Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.

Consumers Energy and DTE Energy Rolling Out Energy Rebate, Recycling, and Discount Programs

Consumers Energy and DTE Energy Rolling Out Energy Rebate, Recycling, and Discount Programs: From the RedTape Blog:

Consumers hit by new 'energy optimization' surcharges now have a chance to get back some of the money they are paying to utilities -- and cut their monthly bills in the process.

Consumers Energy and DTE Energy and its MichCon unit recently began rolling out rebate, recycling and discount programs to be financed by the surcharge that began appearing on bills in June.

Offers range from 99-cent energy-saving light bulbs to a $350 rebate for installing a high-efficiency furnace.

Coupled with federal tax credits, running up to $1,500 on high-efficiency windows, air conditioners, furnaces and other items, the savings can cover more than 30 percent of a homeowner's investment.

Opinions on the programs vary.

'We think that they are very meaningful programs,' said James Clift, policy director for the Lansing-based Michigan Environmental Council. 'Not only will they have the intended consequence if the utilities do it right, we'll even get a bigger bang for our buck out of these programs.'

Michael Holcomb, owner of Byron Township-based Home Inspector General and a certified energy auditor, said he is not a fan of the programs or fees customers are forced to pay -- even though the program could mean more work for his business.

Michael Holcomb sets up a pressure door to test a newly built house's airflow. Holcomb said the fees will have few direct benefits for many, since the most lucrative rebates require spending thousands of dollars on systems such as furnaces and air conditioning.

'I think everybody ought to optimize their energy,' he said. 'I don't think they ought to allow the utilities to tax consumers to their profit.'

'I don't feel good about the program,' he added. 'I don't think it was well thought out when it was passed.'

The most straightforward of the incentives are 99-cent compact fluorescent lightbulbs sold at stores such as Meijer, Menard's and Home Depot.

But most of the rebates and discounts won't come without some leg work.

The programs are run independently by the utilities, potentially leading to confusing, overlapping rebates and paperwork.

Customers also will need to understand some incentives may come from their electricity provider while another may come from their heating fuel company, each of which require separate rebate forms.

'You'll need to read each bill insert individually and understand the gas program is separate from the electric,' said Judy Palnau, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Public Service Commission.

Clearing up confusion

Officials from DTE Energy and Consumers, which provide gas and/or electricity to much of the state, said they are working on streamlining the programs to help alleviate confusion.

The utilities also said they are working with contractors so they can help customers complete paperwork when they install something such as a furnace or air conditioner.

'We've been trying to work together to make things as similar as we can for our customers, make it easier for customers and our allies,' said Terry Mierzwa, Consumers manager of marketing, energy efficiency and research.


Get rebate forms and details about energy optimization programs online or by phone:

Consumers Energy: (866) 234-0445

DTE Energy/MichCon: (866)796-0512

Inconsistencies between utilities are a result of ramping up the programs quickly, they said.

'We did work with Consumers to compare notes when we were designing the program,' said Emmett Romine, DTE manager of energy optimization.

'They're taking a different approach with how they're rolling things out because of their demographics and geographic service area.'

Utilities from around the state will gather Tuesday in Lansing to go over their programs and explore what is working and what needs improvement.

DTE Energy and Consumers Energy began rolling out their programs in July as part of a state-mandated program to encourage more efficiency. It was included among a slew of reforms passed last year.

The state authorized Consumers Energy to implement monthly surcharges averaging 71 cents for electric customers and $1.72 for gas customers. DTE expects gas customers to pay $1.20 a month with electric customers paying an average of 85 cents per month.

Avoiding construction

The idea behind energy optimization is to delay the need to construct new power-generation facilities, which saves customers from bearing the building costs.

Certain pieces of the programs still are being developed.

Consumers Energy, for example, expects to offer rebates on items such as replacement windows and insulation, but not until the spring. DTE's rebate program for such products is in place.

Consumers' program that pays electric customers $30 and offers to pick up old energy-sucking refrigerators and freezers is available in Flint, Saginaw, Jackson, Battle Creek and Kalamazoo, but won't be in Grand Rapids or many rural areas until 2010.

'We're right now just getting our program rolling,' Mierzwa said. 'So we're starting smaller. We expect to offer appliance recycling in the Grand Rapids area in early spring of 2010.'

DTE's Detroit Edison offers electric customers a $50 payment for old refrigerators and free pickup, but its electric service area is concentrated in the Detroit area.

DTE's program offers higher rebates when combined with a thorough energy audit. Consumers' energy audit program is in development.

A comprehensive energy audit from Holcomb's company may cost $600, he said. DTE will rebate up to $300 of the cost, but only if a customer also implements what could be very expensive recommended energy savings measures within a year.

'We expect there's going to be some bumps to begin with -- some small inequities -- but we're hoping, after we get this first year under our belt, we'll see what works best,' said Clift, of the Michigan Environmental Council.

Palnau and the utilities said there has not been much feedback from customers yet, though the MPSC said it has been receiving a steady flow of calls from customers questioning the purpose of the surcharge.

The state reforms that brought the energy optimization charges included allowing a separate 'Renewable Energy Plan' fee beginning in September not tied to the rebate programs.

Beginning in September, DTE residential electric customers will be charged an additional $3 per month. Consumers electric customers will see a $2.50 per month fee.

That fee provides a separate stream of funding to help utilities pay to improve efficiency at power generation plants and make investments in new clean energy projects such as wind farms.

Clift said groups such as the Michigan Environmental Council will be watching closely to see whether the energy optimization programs are meeting their goals.

'The worst case scenario is you're spending the money but you're not realizing a reduction in your use of energy,' he said.

For the full article, see Chris Knape, 'For Michigan consumers, will navigating utilities' complex energy savings plans be a win or waste?', Grand Rapids Press via MLive, August 30, 2009.


Friday, August 28, 2009

Upcoming Events at HPL

Summer Memories Scrapbooking

2 PM Thursday
August 27

Kids will create a Scrap Book with pages made from Paper Bags! The bags hide pull-out sheets for hidden surprises. Use it to remember this summer’s special moments. Bring a few photos or other fun keepsakes to start your Book. Registration required

Please call the Youth Services Department at 231-722-7276 x 230.

MCGS Board Meeting

September 8 2009

6:30 pm

Muskegon County Genealogical Society Board meeting at the Torrent House.

Ulysses Group

September 8, 2009

10:00 am

Julia Hackley room. Book Discussion Group. This month's book is In the Land of Invisible Women by Qata Ahmed. For more information call 231-722-7276.


September 9, 2009

7:00 pm Torrent House.
Storytelling Group.

Family Genealogy Workshop

September 12

10:30 - 11:30 am

Learn how to do Genealogy research in the Local History Department. For more information call 231-722-7276 x 233

Scrabble FUNdraiser

September 12, 2009

“Read Muskegon,” Muskegon County’s nonprofit adult literacy organization, is hosting its First Annual Read Muskegon Scrabble® FUNdraiser on Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009 at the Masonic Temple, 396 West Clay, 7:00-10:00 p.m. Amateur and serious scrabble players welcome. There will be food, fun, and prizes. Individuals or teams of four are urged to sign up now to raise money for adult literacy in Muskegon County. The entry fee is $25.00 for individuals or $100 for teams of 4 players. Or sponsor a team!

Read Muskegon promotes adult literacy through free, one-on-one tutoring for adults in Muskegon County who cannot read or who have difficulty reading.

Information and applications are available at, your local public library, or call Courtney Schaub at (231) 777-3926.


Homeschooling: by Ginger

Mother homeschooling her daughterAround the country most kids have, or are about to, return to school. But my friend's kids are getting ready to return to the dining room table. One of my old high school friends homeschools her children. I find this idea interesting because homeschooling seems like such a tremendously scary responsibility, and apparently it can be, but it also has some wonderful rewards.

Originally, their family pursued the traditional route for educating the kids through enrollment in public schools. They were mostly happy with that traditional route, until they had to move to another part of the country. They enrolled the kids in the new school district, but very quickly they determined that the school curriculum was lacking in challenge. The kids had already covered the material and were bored.

Furthermore, her kids were being bullied by some students. When my friend discussed the academic and social situations with the teachers and school officials, she repeatedly felt they offered no solutions and were dismissive to her concerns.

She researched their state's homeschooling laws. My friend, who had been a teacher for years, researched state educational requirements and located resources that were available to parents for purposes of homeschooling. At that point, they decided to take the leap, and they pulled their kids out of school. My friend set up school in her own home. That was years ago and it works very well for them.

She follows state guidelines and curriculum, but incorporates a variety of field trips to museums, libraries, state parks, and a host of other educational activities. Homeschooled kids are allowed to participate in local school sports and other activities, so her kids get plenty of social interaction. They take the same standardized tests as nonhomeschooled kids.

I asked my friend if she enjoyed “relearning” things as she goes through the lessons with her kids. She confessed that when she was young, she didn't have much interest in some subjects. She is learning new things right along with her kids and she loves that aspect of teaching them. I find that really cool and appealing. I confess, I want to enroll in my friend's home school. She'd probably have to start me back at the 3rd grade level.

Anyway, here are some federal resources that may be of interest to folks considering homeschooling:

Since homeschooling is considered a matter handled by each state, your best bet is to work with your local school district to locate curriculum and guidelines. Most states have homeschool coordinators to help parents who wish to school their children at home. Remember, you pay taxes, therefore your kids are allowed access to the same resources that are available to public school children.


Thursday, August 27, 2009

New Websites

Be sure to check our Resources Page to see the new websites we've added during the last week.

Michigan Library Association Lobbies on Behalf of the Library of Michigan

Michigan Library Association Lobbies on Behalf of the Library of Michigan: From the Red Tape Blog:

The Library of Michigan is more than a building. It is the visionary leader of the library community. It is the visual representation of how libraries have collaborated to become more efficient and cost effective. But these successes are being ignored by the Michigan Senate in its budget and by Gov. Jennifer M. Granholm in her executive order.

Under the tremendous vision and leadership of the State Library of Michigan, the library community - universities, community colleges, public, private, K-12, special libraries - all joined together to do what government only dreams about. They united to achieve statewide group purchasing and resource sharing, saving millions of dollars for libraries across the state benefiting all Michigan residents.

They created the MeLibrary ( - rich online research tools for faculty, small business, and job seekers , MeL Tests and Tutorials - filled with online AP, GED, police, fire and nursing certification tests and more, and MeLCat , a statewide interlibrary loan system.

The Senate budget calls for slashing library funding to $7.5 million, even though state law calls for it to be funded at approximately $15.4 million. If this budget is enacted, the entire statewide resource sharing and interlibrary loan system could collapse, eliminating the savings realized through group purchasing.

This system gives every Michigan resident access to expensive resources from their home, office or library at tremendous cost savings to the taxpayers - $72 million a year. This system enables libraries to share books, CDs, DVDs and more from other communities. This model should be replicated for collaboration, cost savings and efficiencies - not broken up.

The Michigan Library Association did not oppose the elimination of the Department of History, Arts and Libraries. We understand the difficult economic times facing Michigan and know $2 million can be saved through this step. However, we oppose the executive order because it goes much further and calls for breaking up the Library of Michigan without any defined cost savings or an alternative plan.

This diminishes the position, influence and stature of the library community and the State Library of Michigan. It does not respect the valuable role libraries play in preserving our history and giving citizens access to vital information critical in a knowledge-based economy.

At a time when libraries are under tremendous public demand as citizens use libraries to hunt for jobs, file for unemployment and access the internet when their services are cut off, library funding and support is being eroded at every level.

We urge the legislature to protect library funding and retain access to these valuable resources. Michigan residents cannot continue to move forward in a knowledge-based economy if our state moves backward.

Gretchen Couraud is executive director of the Michigan Library Association in Lansing.

For the full article, see Gretchen Couraud, 'Library cuts mean losses, not savings, for Michigan', Lansing State Journal, August 26, 2009.


Michigan Helping Hand Unleashed

Michigan Helping Hand Unleashed: From the Red Tape Blog:

Michigan residents who need help with unemployment, food stamps, foreclosure and health care now can go to one Web site to sign up for assistance.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm today unveiled a new one-stop resource at

The site will allow residents to answer questions to find out if they qualify for state assistance and in many cases let them apply online. Those without access to computers can call 2-1-1 call centers to get their questions answered. Some of the services also can be applied for over the phone.

The state is working with the Michigan Association of United Ways and the Michigan Community Action Agency Association, which will help people access the new options if they can't on their own.

For the full article, see 'Granholm unveils resource for needy Mich. residents', Lansing State Journal midday update, August 26, 2009.


News from "Master the Art of Reading" Summer Reading Program

The Grand Prize Winner of a 90 minute massage from Keep in Touch Massaage is a shy person who would rather not have their name mentioned. Congratulations to all our participants and many thanks to Alpha and Omega Antiques, Glamazon, Keep in Touch Massage Therapy, Lakeshore Museum Center, Lascko Plumbing and Mechanical, Lee's Famous Recipe Chicken, McDonald's Candies, Muskegon Chronicle, Muskegon Civic Theatre, Muskegon Museum of Art, Port City Cruise Line, Port City Paints, West Michigan Symphony, and Witt Buick, our wonderful sponsors.

Book Reviews from "Master the Art of Reading" participants

Irish Dreams by Nora Roberts: Classic lovestory with great characters.

Waiting for Nick and Considering Kate by Nora Roberts: Very compelling storytelling at its best. Great character development.

4 Day Diet by Ian Smith: No great mystery here. Basic things, it doesn't give anythign good or worthwhile. Would not call it a diet book.

Apostle by Brad Thor: Good book using present situation in War area. The president is about like our present situation. The book held my attention and moved along. A few of the terms were beyond me.

Chasing Harry Winston by Lauren Weisberger: Very good, funny book. Great for the beach. Good for friends or book club.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

United States Constitution

Most people haven't read the entire Constitution, but here's your chance. I will be posting one Article each week, which should give you plenty of time to read and digest it, rather than trying to read the entire document at one sitting. I am taking the text from the National Archives Site. Today, the Preamble!

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Book Reviews from "Master the Art of Reading" participants

Change of Heart by Jodi Picoult: Would recommend it. Very good heart wrenching and warming book. Have tissues ready.

Tenth Circle by Jodi Picoult: Harder to get into more so than her other books. Overall, a good read.

By My Side by Nora Roberts: Two wonderful stories, very compelling page turner from front to back cover.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Maintain a Good Credit Score with the 20-Percent Rule [Money]

by Azadeh Ensha of Lifehacker:

Maintain a Good Credit Score with the 20-Percent Rule [Money]: "

Getting and keeping a good credit score is important in renting an apartment, buying a home, and most other finance-based ventures. CNN Money offers their best tips on how to maintain a FICO score, including the 20-percent rule.

Photo by Andres Rueda.

The article explains that how much you owe versus how much credit has been extended to you is the second most important factor in determining your score. By way of example, the author writes that if you've charged $5,000 on credit cards and have $50,000 in credit, your rate is 10 percent, which they say is "ideal"—though you can go up as far as 20 percent and still keep a good score. Once you consistently go over 20 percent, you begin to ding your credit score.

If you're lucky, you hardly ever carry over a balance on your credit card to begin with, but in case you've accrued a bit of debt, this is information worth knowing. Check out the link for the other credit tips, then watch our video covering ten credit score myths dispelled.


Summer tax tips from the IRS

by Jess, from the GovGab blog:

Summer tax tips from the IRS: "

TaxesIf you're anything like me you probably think about taxes once a year, when it comes time to file in the spring.

But this summer the IRS is trying to get us to think about taxes a little more often. In fact, a few times each week they are sharing all kinds of tax tips, like seven tax tips for gambling wins and losses and the five tax scams to avoid this summer.

If you and your sweetheart tied the knot recently, you might want to check out the tips for the newly married. You'll learn where to file name changes so everything matches up when you sit down to do your taxes.

Another cool topic they address is income taxes for students with summer jobs. Did you know that the extra cash you earn mowing your neighbors' lawns is considered taxable income or that there are special tax rules for people who deliver newspapers? There are a few more great tips for students with summer jobs that are worth checking out.

Since no one wants to spend the time reading the entire tax code, these tips are a quick and easy way to brush up on things you may need to know when you're filing your taxes.

Feel free to share in the comments an interesting tip you learned.


What Do You Know About Energy?

by the editor of the GovGab Blog:

What Do You Know About Energy?: "

boy who looks puzzledOur guest blogger today is Colleen Blessing, who works on the energy statistics website at the Energy Information Administration.   

We all think a little about gasoline, because that’s a type of energy we actually buy, but many of us probably don’t understand much about gas prices except that they go up and down a lot. 

Do you know which country we get the biggest share of our oil imports 
from?  Answer:  It’s Canada, and almost half of our oil imports come from the Western Hemisphere.  You’re not alone if you got the wrong answer:  More than half of the people we surveyed recently either didn’t know or guessed Saudi Arabia or Iraq.

When you click the remote and the TV comes on, do you ever think about the electricity you’re buying to make it work or even where that electricity comes from?  If you’re like me, energy is sort of just there.  It’s on the stove and in the plug, but I don’t really think about it until there’s a power outage or until my bills are really high.  But where does electricity come from?  About half of the electricity in the United States is generated by burning coal! 

So, seeing as how it’s back-to-school time for kids, maybe some of us adults could also learn an interesting fact or two! 

And have I got a source of energy information for you!  In the category of “wow, I didn’t know the government did that,” at my high school reunion (I won’t mention which one), I amazed people by telling them I work at a government statistical agency that produces policy neutral energy data—independent of spin or advocacy.  They thought the government should do that, but they didn’t know that it actually did!  The Energy Information Administration prides itself on collecting and giving the public facts about energy that they can believe in. 

Biofuels mostly refers to ethanol and biodiesel, liquid fuels used for transportation.  They are made from things like corn and animal fat.  Did you know that Henry Ford’s original automobile, the Model T, could run on either gasoline or ethanol?

Renewable energy sources include water, the sun, geothermal, biomass and wind.  Did you know that most renewable energy is used to produce electricity?  China leads the world in renewable energy use for electricity production, but the United States is in second place.  

Do you think yellow cake is just to eat?  In fact, the term also is another name for uranium oxide, the fuel used by nuclear power plants.  Fun and Games can help you learn more energy terms.  If you’re ready to graduate to data and analysis, you can find lots of information on the Energy Information Administration website.

Start learning about energy!


Kids Need Your Help to Learn

From the GovGab Blog:

Kids Need Your Help to Learn: by joanne

young girl looking out the school bus windowThis week I’m getting my daughter ready to go back to school – I bet a lot of your kids are already in the classroom.

Our biggest preparation is easing back into an earlier, regular bedtime. My older daughter just can’t function without a good night’s sleep. I’m exactly the same, so I know how important it is for her to be well rested to be receptive to learning, and have a productive day at school.

No matter if school is in session or not, there are so many things that we, as parents can do to help our kids succeed academically. We can make sure there are reasonable limits on TV and game time, encourage our kids to read and take them to the local library to explore for books that interest them. Nobody likes homework, and I’ve found that it’s even a drag when you’re a parent. Still, homework is an important part of learning and we need to monitor homework and help our kids learn how to do their homework independently.

It may be your child’s first day of kindergarten or her senior year in college. Either way, adults play an important role in establishing the right attitude and environment for learning and growth. I hope we all have a successful year!


Blog examines rumors, conspiracy theories

From the Free Government Information blog.

Blog examines rumors, conspiracy theories: by jajacobs

This blog has been around for at least a year, but I hadn't seen it till recently. It looks worth a bookmark:

Examining rumors, conspiracy theories and false stories. Todd Leventhal, a State Department expert on these issues, discusses deliberate disinformation, unintentional misinformation, cautionary tales known as 'urban legends,' and widely believed conspiracy theories.

[Note to grammarians: Yes, I added the comma after 'Myths' in the title. Could ... not ... control ... inner ... comma ... fanatic....]


NARA blog-From Free Government Information

NARA blog: "

The National Archives has started a blog, NARAtions, because, 'we are hoping to talk with you about online public access to the records held by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).'

(Hat tip to Kate!)


FCC has a blog-From Free Government Information

FCC has a blog: "

The Federal Communications Commission has a new blog, blogband ('The official blog of the national broadband plan'), that is part of the FCC's web site.

Blogband is part of the FCC’s commitment to an open and participatory process. Blogband will keep people up-to-date about the work the FCC is doing and the progress we’re making. But we want it to be a two-way conversation. The feedback, ideas, and discussions generated on this blog will be critical in developing the best possible National Broadband Plan.

As this blog demonstrates, the Internet is changing and expanding the way Americans communicate, providing them with unparalleled access to information.

Make a note: 2009 and the FCC says that their one and only blog demonstrates how the Internet is changing the way we communicate. Okay. I don't want to be petty, and I'm glad they have this blog, but did they really think that 'Blog Band' was a good name? And, does the FCC logo, when you look at it out of the corner of your eye, look like a frog? Maybe I've been reading too much Pynchon and am just feeling snarky today. Sorry.

Congratulations to the FCC for entering the twentieth (oops, I mean 21st!) century!

p.s. They have a Twitter feed as well! fccdotgov.

p.p.s. Supreme Court! Are you listening!?


Vote! Apps for America 2 Contest Finalists-From Free Government Information

Vote! Apps for America 2 Contest Finalists: "

The Sunlight Foundation has announced three finalists for their Apps for America 2 Contest. Sign up for a free account and Vote for the winner!

The finalists include:

GovPulse.usis a 'Federal Register browser' allowing you to browse the by agency, category or date. The visualizations are pretty cool too. allows you to explore government data about your community. I did a search for my city, and it gave me a summary, but I also can look at how many people in my county were diagnosed with Cancer. Dang!

DataMasher lets you mashup two different data sources and you can share/comment on others. Sunlight Foundation really likes this mashup: High School Graduation vs Guns in Household.

Thank goodness for and the opening up of more government data so we can make cool applications like these!


News from Master The Art of Reading Summer Reading Club

The winners for weeks 8, 9, and 10 are:

Week 8: Marvin Wassink-Gift certificate to McDonald’s Candies, Norma Grice-Gift certificate to Alpha-Omega Antiques, Michelle Winchel-Gift certificate to McDonald’s Candies, Pat Wilkey-Membership in Lascko’s Comfort Care Program, Gwen Jefferson-Lakeshore Museum Center passes

Week 9: Nikki Kirksey-Lakeshore Museum Center Lunch bag and water bottle, Julianne Laude-Gift certificate to Alpha-Omega Antiques, Linda Rostar-Muskegon Chronicle Gift Certificate, Lora Swenson-gift certificate to Alpha-Omega Antiques, Shy Person #8-gift certificate to McDonald’s candies.

Week 10: Jean Davis-Muskegon Museum of Art membership, Julie DeMarr-gift certificate to Alpha-Omega Antiques, Shy Person #9-gift certificate to Alpha-Omega Antiques, Shy Person #10-gift certificate to Alpha-Omega Antiques, Brandy Thompson-Lakeshore Museum Center Tote Bag.

News from "Master the Art of Reading" Summer Reading Program

This week, 19 people read 71 books, for a summer total of 181 people who read 1258 books! Way to go Muskegon! 351 people signed up for the program and over half participated at least once. Last year, 345 people signed up, 158 people participated, and they read 1234 books. Winners and prizes for this week and last will be announced later, as will the Grand Prize Winner

Muskegon Reads!

Anastasi, JoeNew Forensics
Andersen, SusanComing Undone
Andersen, SusanHot and Bothered
Ash, SarahLord of Snow and shadows
Ash, SarahPrisoner of the Iron Tower
Ash, SarahTracing the shadow
Baxter, StephenCoalescent
Baxter, StephenEmperor
Baxter, StephenExultant
Bishop, AnneTangled Webs
Brandewyne, RebeccaCrystal Rose
Cain, ChelseaHeart Sick
Campbell, AnnaUntouched
Crichton, MichaelNext
David, James T.Before the cradle falls
David, James T.Judgment Day
David, James T.Thunder of time
David, PeterKnight Life
David, PeterOne knight only
Dees, Cindy9-Month Bodyguard
Ferrarella, MarieHeiress's 2-week affair
Freethy, BarbaraSuddenly One Summer
Gabriel, JuliGreen Beauty Guide
Gaiman, NeilMarvel 1602
Galland, NicoleFool's Tale
Garlock, DorothyMother Road
Groopman, JeromeHow Doctors Think
Hake, CathyThat certain Spark
Hill, SandraRed Hot Cajun
Hill, SandraSo into you
Howell, HannahHighland Knight
Huegel, KellyGLBTQ
Iles, GregDevil's Punchbowl
Jackson, BrendaObject of his obsession
Jackson, LisaTwice Kissed
Jance, J. A.Cruel Intent
Jeffries, SabrinaLet sleeping rogues lie
Johansen, IrisStorm Cycle
King, StephenDuma Key
King, StephenGunslinger
Kosarin, JenniIt's just not in the stars
Kozminsky, IsidoreZodiacal Symbology
Kurland, LynnDance through time
Lefler, HughColonial North Carolina
Margolin, PhilipAfter Dark
Margolin, PhilipAssociate
Margolin, PhilipExecutive Privilege
Margolin, PhilipGone, but not forgotten
Margolin, PhilipLast Innocent Man
Margolin, PhilipProof Positive
Margolin, PhilipTies that Bind
Margolin, PhilipWild Justice
Mayhue, MelissaHighland Guardian
McGraw, PhilLove Smart
Mitchell, SiriLove's Pursuit
Morrell, DavidShimmer
Picoult, JodiChange of Heart
Picoult, JodiTenth Circle
Roberts, NoraBy My Side
Roberts, NoraIrish Dreams
Roberts, NoraWaiting for Nick and Considering Kate
Ross, StewartTales of the Dead: Ancient Rome
Smith, Ian4 Day Diet
Steel, DanielleEchoes
Steel, DanielleGranny Dan
Steel, DanielleNo Greater Love
Steel, DanielleRogue
Thor, BradApostle
Weisberger, LaurenChasing Harry Winston
Willingham, BillHelmet of Fate
Wilson, PaulAll the Rage
table producing by T2T

Book Reveiws from "Master the Art of Reading" participants

Book Reviews from "Master The Art of Reading" participants

Cruel Intent by J. A. Jance: Jance is always a good mystery read whether you take to the beach or cozy up with a blanket and fire. Cruel Intent was a bit different from her other mysteries, however, I still enjoyed it.

Duma Key by Stephen King: Very suspenseful! A great read!

Gunslinger by Stephen King: Great start to the series! Looking forward to reading the rest of them.

Book Reveiws from "Master the Art of Reading" participants

Book Reviews from "Master The Art of Reading" participants

Next by Michael Crichton: Loved it! Great read.

Mother Road by Dorothy Garlock: Wonderfully written Great Depression era novel.

How Doctors Think by Jerome Groopman: Good, very informing.