University of Michigan – My First Website – Archive

The following content is from my first website, which I created while at the University of Michigan . . . sometime in 2003 or 2004. They are taking the web hosting offline as of October 30, 2015, so I’m posting the content here to save it.

rogers_mountain

Climbing in Nevada between time at the poker tables.

From the page of the website titled, “GOLF THOUGHTS”:

I started golfing when I was nine years old. My dad took me to the local junior golf lesson camp and I was instantly hooked. The next year I played in a few nine hole tournaments, which was fun except for having to talk to the other kids in the group. Eventually, the interest grew into obsession and throughout high school I ate, breathed and played golf. Golf is more casual now, though I plan to play in a few tournaments this upcoming summer.
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Beautiful Morning

In a moment’s time, the burning tangerine sun rises above the horizon, sits below the pink clouds shuffling south, then disappears. Playing peek-a-boo; its rays streaming through the silhouetted oak tree with vibrating leaves. Through our window decorated with Harvey’s fingerprints. Through the scratched lenses of my glasses. And on to me. Painting me in the warmth of morning. Compelling me to smile and be grateful for the view. And for the people I share it with.

Michigan Property Tax Article

I wrote an article discussing the recent amendments to the Michigan property tax statute and expanded planning opportunities for family property succession. Here is a link to the article on the Kuhn Rogers website. The article in full is as follows:

Whether your family property is a rustic camp in the U.P., a cozy cottage on Little Glen, a hunting cabin in Eastern Lower Michigan, or a house in Traverse City – to your family, your property likely has a “family meaning value” far in excess of its fair market value.

A consideration when planning to keep property in your family for generations is its annual carrying cost, a major component of which is the annual property taxes. The longer you’ve owned your property, the greater the likelihood that without careful planning your property taxes could uncap (increase significantly) for future generations of owners. The unfortunate result can be a forced sale by your children or grandchildren who can’t afford the carrying costs.
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Estate Planning Peace of Mind

I recently wrote an article about estate planning for young families. Here is a link to the article on the Kuhn Rogers website. The article in full is as follows:

Why Young Families Should Start Now

By: Christopher G. Rogers, Attorney

Every young family can benefit from having an estate plan. Beginning that process now can provide peace of mind for years to come. To start, you should focus on the following questions:

Who would care for your children if you were unable to do so?

How would your spouse or children be provided for?

Who will make decisions for you if you cannot?

An estate plan provides answers to these questions and typically addresses the following three stages: lifetime, disability, and death.

Without an estate plan, the management and disposition of your estate would be determined by the probate court according to Michigan law or a set of default rules known as the laws of intestate succession. To avoid relying on the default set of laws, you should implement an estate plan that is specifically prepared for your family’s needs.

Where to begin?

Your first step should be to meet with a trusted estate planning attorney to discuss your family’s situation and obtain personalized estate planning advice. The following are some of the most important planning decisions to discuss.

1. Execute a will and name a guardian for your minor children.

A will is used to name the guardian of your minor children if you and your spouse are unable to care for them. Also, it overrides the default state laws and provides for the disposition of your assets pursuant to your specific wishes.

Selecting a guardian is the most important decision you will make. No one will be able to replace you as parents, but you should carefully consider the values of the individuals you are naming as guardians.

2. Consider life insurance.

If your family is just beginning to save while paying off debt or if you rely on one spouse’s income, then there would be little or no assets left to support the surviving spouse or children if one or both of the parent’s died. The advantages of purchasing life insurance are that it is relatively inexpensive, can be maintained during your primary earning years, and can create an estate to provide for your children’s support and education in the event you pass away before they become adults.

3. Establish a trust and name successor trustees.

Like a will, a trust provides for the disposition of your assets different from the default state laws. A trust has the added benefit of being in effect throughout your lifetime, upon your incapacity, and at death. Additionally, a trust avoids probate unlike a will.

Even if you do not currently have assets to fund into a trust, it can receive funds, such as life insurance proceeds, in the future. You can name a successor trustee to manage those funds pursuant to the trust terms you select for the benefit of your surviving spouse or children.

4. Execute a durable power of attorney.

A durable power of attorney allows you to name an agent to act on your behalf, provides specific powers to that individual, and is effective upon your incapacity or immediately. This document is used primarily to allow your agent to handle your financial matters if you are unable to do so and will avoid the necessity of having to petition the court to appoint a conservator.

5. Execute a health care power of attorney.

A health care power of attorney is a document by which you designate a patient advocate to make medical decisions for you in the event that you are unable to do so. This document also contains your medical directives, upon which your patient advocate can rely.

6. Review your beneficiary designations.

You should work with an estate planning attorney to ensure that the beneficiary designations on each of your assets is tailored to your family’s estate plan. Often for a young family, you would name your spouse as the primary beneficiary to ensure sufficient liquidity for short-term monetary needs.

The estate planning process is easy to complete with the help of a knowledgeable estate planning attorney and should not take much of your time. The resulting plan is flexible, and can be amended as your family matures. Once complete, it will provide you with a sense of comfort knowing that you have a plan in place.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice.

The Bay Today (Unedited)

I dictated the following to Siri (iPhone digital assistant in case I forgot or a future reader is unaware) en route to work during January and February, 2014:

January 6, 2014: there is a snow buildup along the shore. Parts it juts out and peninsulas, where the sand underneath comes higher. Parts are broken into pieces like a jigsaw puzzle, crashing about. The water beyond is they Coolgreen sitting into a deep cold blue. The waves near the icy sure And wait, is to swans swim by in the mid ground. I can only see about half a mile out and then water and sky become one on discernible gray

January 7, 2014: I just dropped Harvey off, and have turned onto E. Shore Rd. It is plowed wide and clear, although the entire road is covered with a thin layer of firmly packed snow. The bay is to my left, covered with steam rising from the water, Which is warmer than the air. In the distance, the mainland, and behind that the sun rising. The sun’s beams. A concentrated bright orange and white peek behind the Grand Traverse resort.

January 10, 2014: the bay is covered with a fog that bleeds onto E. Shore Rd. The temperature is 24° and rising. Think orange lights are visible across the bay to the south, and the water is still. Everything is a version of gray dark, Marty, light, fading.

January 14, 2014: A single bird flies away from me, its wings up and down slivers against the pastel pink and orange of the sun coming out. The ice is down, and the water is mildly choppy. Blue on the back and pink on the front, it jostle’s about wrestling and wanting spring

January 20, 2014: The bay today is a cold green mass underneath the light white cloud. This guy comes down beyond the horizon to the foreground almost to the shore. Between the sky and the icy build up along the shore is that sliver of green.

January 21, 2014: The bay today is bursting with glowing steam, hovering above. On the horizon, a square rainbow at the end of a cloud to the north. The sun is bright and white, and rising and stretching its arms across the road in front of me. The snow is brighter today. The water is bluer today. The sky is lighter, and the trip -This journey through life-is as enjoyable as ever. The only parts untouched by this glorious sun are the backsides of the snowbanks facing to the west. And they have this bright sunlight to look forward to, for it will reach them and only a matter of minutes.

January 23, 2014: The bay today contains the narrowest of silver strips of calm water, backed by choppy water with a transparent missed dangling above. On the horizon, the faintest of pink of sunsets that I’ve seen this winter. There is hope of a bright day ahead, hiding behind the dark gray clouds blanketed the region for many many days.

February 14, 2014: the quiet silence of the drive along the shore, with the Art Deco gray shiny morning predawn sunrise, was unique from any other day that I’ve lived funny short.

Dear Captain Harvey

Go to sleep, Harvey. Drift away. Settle your kicking legs and your searching arms. Let your heavy eyelids close. Stop grabbing your ears. (I promise that they will be there when you wake-up.) Relax your shoulders and let the tension of the ache of your cutting teeth fade. I know how hard it is to let go of this world, even for an hour. There is so much to explore – to inventory – to do. I feel the same way sometimes. There are toys waiting, food to eat, new sounds to hear, fresh smells to smell. And there is also the familiar, which we fear forgetting. The sweet tones of mother’s voice. Bouncing in your play chair. Smiling at each other. And yet, there is a time, when we must close our eyes and let our imagination flourish and our memory take stock of the bright, beautiful moments that fill our lives. So go to sleep, Harvey, and I promise that what dreams you don’t remember I will tell you about someday, as I hope to dream as you do.

Written from 8:30 am to 9:11 am on Saturday, October 26, 2013 in our office/Harvey’s toy room at the Double Dogleg in Traverse City, Michigan. He fell asleep on my shoulder just before writing this. Lindsey was sleeping in, and Yogi was snoring on the couch. I was up, putzing around, drinking coffee, listening to the rain fall on the metal dog bowls outside as early dawn lightened to day. I am appreciative of the soft sounds of this morning and of being surrounded by my sleeping family.

Enjoy Your Morning

It is that time of morning when the wood around and the road ahead are different shades of brown and grey. And the trees of the wood are taught toward the pre-dawn sky. I am sifting salt onto our cracked asphalt driveway from my blue, plastic, Maxwell House coffee container. The older kind that had a handle instead of mere indentations. It would be appropriate, here and now, to say that “they don’t make ’em like they used to.” And that can be said often and in many ways, but not right now because this pre-dawn is exceptional like all before it and all that will come after.

I am melting off the rest of Monday’s frozen rain and Tuesday’s sleet. I’ve not had to shovel this morning – to wake the reverend or the doctor – caused their dogs to bark. And it’s the bark of the dogs that is the catalyst of morning’s forward progress. In their absence, our fraction of a finger of the world holds its breath a moment longer, pulls the covers up a little higher, and lets the hues of brown and grey hang around while I drink my coffee and ascend the driveway.

Written in red ink on a white legal pad from 6:40 am to 7:00 am on Wednesday, February 13th, 2013 in our kitchen at the Double Dogleg in Traverse City, Michigan.

OneWord: Sure

Sure: I was so sure, that I set the cup down. And I walked to her and said,”Hello, beautiful. Can I have this dance.” She looked at me with her blazing brown eyes and nodded. Just a little. And so I took her hand and walked with her to the edge of the hardwood that was the dancers’ floor. Like the boxers’ ring. And I had made it that far. And I was holding her hand. And my heart was racing. Pounding from my chest trying to reach hers to see if it, too, wanted the same kind of freedom. And all I could do was take that next step. The leather of my shoe skidding to a start on the dusty wood. I reached my arm around her thin little waist and pulled her warm body to mine so that I could lead her away to the rest of her life. For there was no turning back on this little leap of love. She was my wallflower. Me, her punch-bowl-mixer. And together we were everything at once. The disco ball above stopped to watch as we spun faster and slower around everyone who didn’t matter in that moment. And then I stopped us. The music stopped. And I dipped her ’til her hair was in the dust of that worn out floor. And I looked at those brown eyes of hers and I said, “Goodnight, Beautiful. I’m sure we’ll meet again.”

How Santa Makes His Rounds

To all those who have trouble believing in Santa Claus, I ask you to read the following with a bit of humor in mind and a leniency for the truth. Many things that are mentioned have indeed happened, and the rest…well they could just as easily be true. All you have to do is indulge your imagination and follow my lead.

Santa Claus is real, and so are all of the trimmings that we associate with him. I have seen him in the mall many times, and having been fortunate enough to chat briefly with him upon a couple of occasions, I consider myself very knowledgeable about his ways. Many people have tried to tell me otherwise, but I know the truth. The truth is that there are elves at the North Pole slaving away to make children happy come Christmas morning. There are flying reindeer that pull not only Santa and his sleigh, but also his sack of gifts, which must be enormous in proportions. Thousands of kids wait patiently, all year long watching what they say and how they act, in hopes that they will receive their chosen gifts. (This includes me.) I fall into the category of believers who also believe in the Easter Bunny, angels, and miracles. Hence, in the midst of the Christmas season that is racing around us, my focus is on proving to you that Saint Nick does in fact exist.
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Ira Glass on Storytelling

STORYTELLING

Two main building blocks

  1. Sequence of actions – anecdote – that creates suspense and raises questions along the way (and readers expect those questions to be answered)
  2. Moment(s) of reflection on the suspense and questions raised

Can have great facts, but boring execution of above; can have boring facts and excellent execution of above.

Difficult to find a real story. What about for fiction? Looking within? Is there a tipping point of personal memories that create a story?

Every story isn’t going to be great or usable. Need to learn to abandon crap. Don’t want to be making mediocre stuff. Like golf – looking for that one great shot that keeps you going until the next time.

When starting a creative career, your taste may be killer, but your ability is below what you like. You know that your work is crappy – need to get past this phase!

Common pitfalls

  • Trying to imitate something you’ve seen. Just talk like a normal human being – this could go for writing, too. Go with your own flow.
  • Not showing your personality interacting with other human beings. Can’t have too much “you” or too much of the other characters.

OneWord: Five, Game, Sate, Scatter

Five: Across the street, backed by climbing ivy and silver graffiti hearts, is a young couple sitting on a green cement bench. The axis of his world tilting towards hers. A lean to her gravity – to the sunny disposition of her beautiful smile, and all of the kind things that come with it. And then he lifts his left hand, which is covered by a mitten, and runs it along her right jawbone to pull her cold lips to his.

Game: We played a game each night. As a family, while sitting at our kitchen table, talking face to face. The best thing was that for an hour or so there were no phones, no TVs, no invasions from the world. Except, perhaps, the occasional neighbor dropping by for a cup of sugar or an old friend from downstate checking in. It was the four of us and our cards and conversation.

Sate: To sate his desire, and growing appetite, for a slice of Lakeshore Berry Crumb pie from the Grand Traverse Pie Company downtown, Chris went to the trouble of bundling up in his vintage 1980’s one-piece polyester lime-green snowsuit, complete with snap on hood and matching Smith brand ski goggles, gassing up his 1987 Ski-doo and motor-sliding down the middle of M-37. It was, after all, the worst blizzard since the inception of his snowsuit.

Scatter: “Scatter, Buster, before mom sees you on the tile.” The dog sulked backwards to his usual spot in the corner of the TV room. He was safe for now, but unhappy and wanted to play.

Link to OneWord.com, which prompts me with each of the words and provides one minute to write about that word. Sometimes I run long.

OneWord: Patient

She was a patient of life, as it administered its medicine in daily doses of freshly cut tulips on her round oak kitchen table, delivered there by her husband after a rather mundane day at work. Of sunrises that greeted her as she turned right out of her driveway each morning to take her child to fourth grade. And of the feeling of her baby’s beautiful little hands reaching for the stars above on a cold winter night.

Title Without a Story

“The summer during which the new homeowner surveyed his lot with a Bushnell golf range finder and a free iPhone application called iSurveyLite, built a chicken coop near his newly marked property line, and was promptly sued by the neighbor for trespass.”

Lemon Tree Love

His eyes focused, for a moment, on the contrast of her otherwise pale skin with the flush of her cheeks as she walked towards the spot where he was leaning on a fire hydrant.

“Hello, handsome,” she said.

“Hello, gorgeous,” he said as he extended his hand, palm up, and revealed a bright yellow lemon. “I snuck this from the corner tree for you.” She looked over her shoulder, checking to see if the lonesome housewife that planted the tree last spring had seen, or was seeing, their exchange, and then she took the lemon from him and clutched it in her small hand. It was firm and cooler than the muggy Foggy Bottom air that choked the city this time of year.

“Thank you,” she said. Then she kissed him, and kept kissing him until it felt, again, like the lonely housewife was watching. There was more love in her lips than he could hold in his heart. He broke away and smiled at her – at the old row houses – at the poorly parked cars and the cracked cement sidewalks.

Written from 1:10 pm to 1:32 pm on Tuesday, February 21st, 2012 in my office in Traverse City, Michigan.

William Safire’s Rules for Writers

Remember to never split an infinitive.
The passive voice should never be used.
Do not put statements in the negative form.
Verbs have to agree with their subjects.
Proofread carefully to see if you words out.
If you reread your work, you can find on rereading a great deal of repetition can be by rereading and editing.
A writer must not shift your point of view.
And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction. (Remember, too, a preposition is a terrible word to end a sentence with.)
Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!
Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixing metaphors.
Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
Always pick on the correct idiom.
The adverb always follows the verb.
Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives.