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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Snow and Solitude

It is snowing outside. I don't have to work today. I am snug with a couple of snoring dogs, a fake fireplace, and a cup of hot tea. Perfect.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What I go through...

Another fat bigot

This morning I was listening to the radio. The program had two economists discussing income inequality in our country today and what it means. At some point the dicussion turned to how there isn't just income inequality but life expectancy inequality too. And I swear to god, one of those dudes straight up blamed poor people for dying early because they are more likely to be fat. It was pretty early in the morning and I was half awake but it sounded to me like he was saying that poor people don't die sooner because they don't have the same access to health care. They don't die sooner because their lives are more stressful. They don't die sooner because they don't have the time or access to the kinds of recreation choices that make people healthier. No, they die sooner because they are fat and they are fat because they make bad choices. Which is probably why they are poor too.

I fucking hate people sometimes.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The D is the future.

I am very worried about the direction our country is going in. I worry about it all of the time. But I am not entirely without hope

What makes me hopeful is Detroit. Seriously. Mother F*cking Detroit! What has happened to Detroit could be what happens to the rest of our country. Detroit has a 50% illiteracy rate and probably not coincidentally a 50% unemployment rate (if you count discouraged workers). The government is near collapse. There is decay and crime and every other thing everyone fears.

And you know what? It isn't that bad. People do step up. Although people do starve to death there or die of exposure, it isn't exactly common. We could all do better of course but what I am seeing in Detroit is a bunch of people making real policy changes that I suspect are going to result in a huge improvement.

Not only that, the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" entrepreneurial spirit that everyone says is part of the American psyche is thriving there. I see it every day. I have a lot of friends who live there and the things they are doing are amazing. They are *farming* there (stick it up your butt big agribusiness!) Others are making things and then selling them and really actually making money in the process. People are starting all kinds of businesses. It turns out that for a lot of people, when they can't get a job, they make a god damn job and it is exciting in ways I can hardly describe. But mostly I see it as proof that the 1% isn't going to have an easy time with their feudalistic intentions.

There was a nice article on Huffington Post about just this thing today so I am sure that is why I am feeling that if Detroit can come back, the USA can come back. Here is a link:

Why Detroit? Why Now?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Detroit

I love Detroit. I really do.

Yesterday, I had quite a nice day there. I got to see all kinds of wonderful folks. First I met up with the Bachers at Dally in the Alley. Lots of people were there. I actually had a hard time parking and ended up parking all the way up on Seldon and walking. That worked out ok though because I was pretty much right across the street from The Old Miami, where I eventually ended up.

The Dally was really fun. I can't believe I've never bothered to attend this event before. *slaps forehead* It is basically the best block party ever! Like one often finds in Detroit, there was amazing live music on multiple stages. Later, I dragged my friend, Brent, to Traffic Jam for dinner. We saw Carl Levin there even! I am such a dork too and I totally pulled my "bus person" maneuver where I'll run into a person I don't know but see on the bus regularly someplace other than the bus and I'll be all like "HI!" like I am greeting an old friend. I totally did that to Carl Levin but he's a good politician so he totally did the same thing back to me. hahaha. He probably gets that all of the time.

After that, I walked over the Old Miami. It is really weird to me how that area is gentrifying. I didn't have to step over even one passed out homeless person! Seriously, it looks like a lot of the vacant buildings have been torn down and the older buildings still standing seem to be occupied and in good shape, at least as far as one can tell from the sidewalk. That makes me happy. I hope that neighborhood does well.

The Punk Fest benefit for Children's Hospital was pretty fun. I got there around 9:30p but still was able to see four bands. And also, as usual, I found myself a little awestruck at how much musical talent there is in Detroit. These bands were amazing! I always feel so lucky when I am in Detroit that I can, for not very much money, see really great live music in small venues. Even doing that "I'm too cool to run to the front so I am going to stand back here by the bar" thing leaves you within 50ft of the stage.

I ended up leaving around 1am and I don't know if it was the Dally or if it was that UofM had a night game that ended late but there were a lot of drunks on the road. :( That isn't something I love about Detroit. I avoided getting hit by someone running a red light on Woodward because I luckily noticed them out of the corner of my eye and stopped even though I had a green light. I had to swerve to miss someone who decided to cut me off on the entrance ramp to I-94. But the really scary part was when I was just in Dearborn and I saw someone get on the freeway going the wrong way. Luckily it was night time so those approaching headlights were very obvious. And also luckily, I and several other drivers, started flashing our lights and honking and the wrong way driver noticed and pulled onto the shoulder. It was pretty scary though and, let me tell you, it woke me right up. Whew.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

42

(With Thanks to Douglas Adams)


On the day of the Great On-Turning two soberly dressed programmers with briefcases arrived. ... Their names were Lunkwill and Fook.

For a few moments they sat in respectful silence, then, after exchanging a quiet glance with Fook, Lunkwill leaned forward and touched a small black panel.

The subtlest of hums indicated that the massive computer was now in total active mode. After a pause it spoke to them in a voice rich, resonant and deep.

It said: "What is this great task for which I, Deep Thought, ... have been called into existence? ...

"O Deep Thought computer," Fook said, "the task we have designed you to perform is this. We want you to tell us ..." he paused, "the Answer!"

"The Answer?" said Deep Thought. "The Answer to what?"

"Life!" urged Fook. "The Universe!" said Lunkwill.

"Everything!" they said in chorus.

Deep Thought paused for a moment's reflection.

"Tricky," he said finally.

"But can you do it?"

Again, a significant pause.

"Yes," said Deep Thought, "I can do it."

"There is an answer?" said Fook with breathless excitement. "A simple answer?" added Lunkwill.

"Yes" said Deep Thought. "Life, the Universe, and Everything. There is an answer.

But," he added, "I'll have to think about it." ...

The hum level in the room suddenly increased as several ancillary bass driver units, mounted in sedately carved and varnished cabinet speakers around the room, cut in to give Deep Thought's voice a little more power.

"All I wanted to say," bellowed the computer, "is that my circuits are now irrevocably committed to calculating the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything." He paused and satisfied himself that he now had everyone's attention, before continuing more quietly.

"But the program will take me a little while to run."

Fook glanced impatiently at his watch.

"How long?" he said.

"Seven and a half million years," said Deep Thought.

Lunkwill and Fook blinked at each other. "Seven and a half million years!" they cried in chorus. ...

[Seven and a half million years later]

[There] was a pretty tree-lined city square, and all around it as far as the eye could see were white concrete buildings of airy spacious design but somewhat the worse for wear ... many were cracked and stained with rain. Today, however, the sun was shining, a fresh breeze danced lightly through the trees, and the odd sensation that all the buildings were quietly humming was probably caused by the fact that the square and all the streets around it were thronged with cheerful excited people. Somewhere a band was playing, brightly colored flags were fluttering in the breeze and the spirit of carnival was in the air. ...

A man standing on a brightly dressed dais before the building which clearly dominated the square was addressing the crowd over a tannoy.

"O people who wait in the shadow of Deep Thought!" he cried out. "\x{2026}the Time of Waiting is over!"

Wild cheers broke out among the crowd. Flags, streamers and wolf whistles sailed through the air. The narrower streets looked rather like centipedes rolled over on their backs and frantically waving their legs in the air.

"Seven and a half million years our race has waited for this Great and Hopefully Enlightening Day!" cried the cheerleader. "The Day of the Answer!"

Hurrahs burst from the ecstatic crowd. "Never again," cried the man, "never again will we wake up in the morning and think Who am I? What is my purpose in life? Does it really, cosmically speaking, matter if I don't get up and go to work? For today we will finally learn once and for all the plain and simple answer to all these nagging little problems of Life, the Universe and Everything!" ...

Two severely dressed men sat respectfully before the terminal and waited.

"The time is nearly upon us," said one.

"Seventy-five thousand generations ago, our ancestors set this program in motion," the second man said, "and in all that time we will be the first to hear the computer speak."

"An awesome prospect, Phouchg," agreed the first man ...

"We are the ones who will hear," said Phouchg, "the answer to the great question of Life ...!"

"The Universe ...!" said Loonquawl.

"And Everything ... !"

"Shhh," said Loonquawl with a slight gesture, "I think Deep Thought is preparing to speak!"

There was a moment's expectant pause while panels slowly came to life on the front of the console. Lights flashed on and off experimentally and settled down into a businesslike pattern. A soft low hum came from the communication channel.

"Good morning," said Deep Thought at last.

"Er ... good morning, O Deep Thought," said Loonquawl nervously, "do you have ... er, that is ..."

"An answer for you?" interrupted Deep Thought majestically. "Yes, I have."

The two men shivered with expectancy. Their waiting had not been in vain.

"There really is one?" breathed Phouchg.

"There really is one," confirmed Deep Thought.

"To Everything? To the great Question of Life, the Universe and Everything?"

"Yes."

Both of the men had been trained for this moment, their lives had been a preparation for it, they had been selected at birth as those who would witness the answer, but even so they found themselves gasping and squirming like excited children.

"And you're ready to give it to us?" urged Loonquawl.

"I am."

"Now?"

"Now," said Deep Thought. ...

"Tell us!"

"All right," said Deep Thought. "The Answer to the Great Question ..."

"Yes ... !"

"Of Life, the Universe and Everything ..." said Deep Thought.

"Yes ... !"

"Is ... " said Deep Thought, and paused.

"Yes ... !"

"Is ... "

"Yes ... !!! ... ?"

"Forty-two," said Deep Thought, with infinite majesty and calm. ...

"Forty-two!" yelled Loonquawl. "Is that all you've got to show for seven and a half million years' work?"

"I checked it very thoroughly," said the computer, "and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you've never actually known what the question is."

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Ypsilanti Dog Drama

Tonight I was meeting some neighbors for dinner at Sidetrack. I rushed home from work so I could get home in time to let my dogs play with my neighbor's dog, Cali. But, alas, Cali was not home. Cali's owner was home, however, and was quite worried. Cali had somehow escaped from my neighbor's gated front porch in the early morning. Naturally I was concerned because it isnt the norm for a dog that has run away to stay gone for so long or at least it never has been for most of the dogs I have owned. I took Tasha and little Maggie for a bit of a spin around the 'hood hoping to find Cali but we did not.

I had to meet people at Sidetrack so I put my dogs back in the house and headed over to meet my neighbors at Sidetrack. But as I was walking by the Food Coop, guess who was tied up out front. CALI! A staff person from the coop was standing outside and I asked about Cali and let her know that she was my neighbor's dog. Right then Cali jumped up on me which is something I have working with her on but apparently not very well because she keeps jumping on me when she is excited. I gave her a stern "NO JUMP" as is my habit and noticed a woman standing nearby giving me a very dirty look. Then she said, "If you didn't want the dog to jump on you, you shouldnt stand by her"

I replied, "She just isn't especially well behaved all of the time"

The woman wigged out. Her name is "Hope" which I have to admit is something I find highly ironic. Apparently in her world, suggesting that a dog might not be the model of good behavior is akin to serious abuse. At any rate, I started doing the whole thing of offering to take the dog home and whatnot. Hope just wasnt having any of it. Others tried to convince her that a. No one told me the dog was lost, I just knew. and b. Cali obviously knows me therefore I am probably telling the truth about knowing where the dog belongs.

She just started some crazy ranting about how I wasn't fit to own the dog because she wasn't fixed or because she got loose and a whole lot of other reasons. I kept explaining that the dog wasn't mine. I probably shouldn't have but I gave her a little lecture about how sometimes one might not approve of how someone else is raising their dogs (or children) but that doesn't mean one can just take the dog (or kids) away themselves.

I went to get a leash to take Cali home and Hope, seeing that I meant to take the dog home decided to try to leave. I just couldnt let that happen because I was worried that if she left, knowing only her first name, no one would ever see this dog again. I know that my neighbor would have been heartbroken but the truth is that I really like this dog too and have been really enjoying having her over every evening to play in my yard. The only way I could think of to stop her in that moment was to grab onto Cali's collar. She tugged and I tugged and sadly, we hurt Cali and caused her neck to bleed. I deeply regret that since my intention wasn't to hurt her. I guess when the adrenalin is high, it is easier than one might think to be rougher than one intended. Still, I couldn't let her take Cali so I don't regret stopping her from leaving.

Eventually some very wonderful women intervened. They helped calm everyone down and called the police. I also was very impressed with the way the Ypsilanti Police dept handled the situation. My neighbor got her dog back and I wasn't arrested for punching Hope in the face. Mostly because I didn't punch anyone in the face. That was because of those two awesome women and because of the police officers timely arrival.