Saturday, December 15, 2007


I finally got my diploma from Eastern which was this whole drama. They
sent it to me via UPS but they required a signature. I only got the last
notice of a final delivery. Luckily I found the other notices in the
bushes because I was all set to call UPS and bitch them out. There were
some pretty wet and windy days so the notices must have blown off my
door. I ended up having to stop by campus to pick it up myself.

I kind of wondered why they insisted on sending it signature required
because who would steal a diploma? I mean, it isnt like it would have
any kind of value to someone else. It has my name on it after all. That
got me thinking so as a joke, I xeroxed it and then whited out my name
and wrote my name back in with a black sharpie so it would look extra
fake. But that was just something silly to do with it.

I ended up throwing the thing into the trunk of my car. That is where it
is now. I cant think of a thing to do with it. I suppose I could throw
it into a drawer or something. That is what I did with my high school
diploma. It seems kind of pretentious to display it although part of me
wants to because I get happy every time I look at it since it means no
more school for me.

Anyways, I am just curious. To those of you who have earned some sort of
diploma, what did you do with it. Where is it now? Do you think it is
pretentious to display it?

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

I know...I know...

Yeah I know I said that I was going to blog every day in November but after a while, I found that it became a chore and since blogging is supposed to be a hobby, I decided to give myself a break. Truthfully, I still dont feel much like writing so I am just going to share some pictures instead.

This is one of my new dog Tasha. She's pretty wiggly but managed to sit still just long enough for a photo:

And of course, this is my favorite dog, Brooke:

This is one of my sister's dog, Buddy:

This is a photo of the dinner table at Thanksgiving:

And finally, this is my mother, my cousin Catherine, my cousin Anna, my Aunt Nancy, me, and my sister-in-law Katrina modeling some hats that belonged to my grandmother who died in September. She had some pretty interesting hats!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Your mission, if you choose to accept it.

Years ago, my aunt brought my sister back a present from Paris. My sister teaches French. My aunt is a retired teacher. She knows about kids and what interests them. She knows that teachers often have to come up with creative bulletin boards in their rooms. Her present to my sister was toilet paper from the bathroom in the Eiffel Tower. (My present was a bottle of overproofed rum from Jamaica).

My sister used that toilet paper on a bulletin board with great success. It turns out that middle school age kids *are* interested in exotic Eiffel Tower, Parisian toilet paper.

Anyways, over the summer, I told this toilet paper story to my friends who have since moved to France. I told the elder daughter that I think my sister could use some NEW Eiffel Tower toilet paper. I told her that if she happened to find herself in Paris, she should go to the Eiffel Tower, find the highest bathroom, and get me some more toilet paper.

My friends called me yesterday. They are going to Paris. That nine year old girl seems to be taking her mission very seriously. I think someone I know might get toilet paper again for Christmas. haha

Friday, November 16, 2007

Thursday, November 15, 2007


While I was out walking the dogs this evening, I noticed a whole mess of fire trucks on Prospect. There is this one house there that I walk by all the time. Every time I walk by it, I always think that it has a fabulous porch and sometimes I wonder if I could build up a little wall around my porch too but then I remember that I dont have enough money to do it and the historic district people would probably be against it anyways.

I think I walked by at the tail end of whatever excitement there was. I didnt see any fire, just a bunch of fireman crawling around the house. They had a ladder too and looked like they were paying close attention to the chimney. I am guessing that the people who lived at that house probably got lucky.

It is shame that we have to cut back on our fire protection. I really hope that something changes and cities like Ypsilanti can have money for such niceties again.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Sometimes I cant even keep promises to myself. I skipped blogging yesterday but I dont feel bad about it. Well...not too bad. I wasnt feeling well. I had a headache and pretty much spent the entire day in a dark room sleeping because anything that had to do with light hurt my eyes. I think it was either a brain tumor (very unlikely), a migraine (still pretty unikely) or else my vision is going bad and I might need glasses (much more likely). This headache came on after I worked all day on a computer and then came home and read for 6 hours or so.

Of course, I dont have a vision plan so if I do need glasses, I'll have to pay for them myself. I am going to wait and see if I get any more headaches though before I decide to spend any money. The funny thing is that I dont know how much of that is because I dont want to spend money and how much of that is because I dont want to admit that my eyes, or any other part of me, might be aging.

I am not entirely sure why I dislike seeing the signs of aging in myself. It isnt so much that I am worried about losing my looks because I never had conventional beauty in the first place and in the second place, I kind of think that older women *are* beautiful in their own way anyways. No...I think what bugs me is that aging is a reminder that life is finite and I figure that around half of my life is over. I just feel like I want MORE time. Half over already? It can't be!

Oh well. I hear that when people get really old, they sometimes feel done. I guess that is my wish: That no matter when or where I die, I'll feel done living.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Something's going on...

So, I went down to Riverside park today for a walk. It was difficult because the park has very little lighting these days which is kind of sad. I mean, it was only around 10 years ago when I first got Brooke that I would go there and find almost all of the lights lit. Over the years, they have been knocked down one by one with fewer lights until this year, they just havent turned them on at all.

But. There were some people from a construction company and it looks like some round cement things that seem likely to be foundations for new lights are being put in. Has the city found money for park lights after all? It would be awesome if they did.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Exchange Rates

I cannot remember a time when the Canadian dollar was worth more than a US dollar. But today, I was curious about the rate and was shocked to learn that the rate is $1.07 USD to $1 CAD. Wow. What will this mean?

My first thought was that I might need to learn to appreciate American beer since my favorite beer, Labatt Blue, is made in Canada. My second thought was that now probably isnt a good time to visit Toronto. My third thought was that this is probably good for Michigan and the rest of the country too.

You see, a weak dollar means a lot of things. Foreign vacations get more expensive. Flying in water from France gets even more decadent. Basically, imported things become more expensive relative to domestic versions. That will mean higher prices for anything imported. It also means that moving jobs offshore becomes more expensive which means jobs that would have otherwise been lost to foreign competition will remain the US.

Michigan, in particular, probably needs jobs more than it needs cheap crap from China or expensive French cheeses or nights out at the Windsor Ballet.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

I Love Weekends

Yeah yeah, I know. who doesnt enjoy weekends? Seriously though, I have been having a relaxing one. I got Harry Potter from the library and have been sitting around, eating toast, drinking tea, and reading.

Friday, November 09, 2007

If Only There Were a Place Like That

At my old job, I used to get free books. Lots and lots of free books and the books that I didnt get for free, I got a deep discount. It was great at first but eventually I realized that I had a problem. I had a hard time throwing away books. I also found that I had hard time giving them away (I eventually settled on wrapping them up and passing them out as White Elephants at the family Xmas party). It was a LOT of effort.

As it happens, my mother had a similar problem because I kept giving her so many books. We were sitting in the kitchen one day bemoaning having so many books in our possession. "Why is getting rid of books so hard? Why cant I just throw them away? If only there was a place where one could go where one could rent or borrow books to read so that when one is done, one doesnt have to keep the book!"

My Dad just shouted in from the other room, "you mean like a LIBRARY?"

Hahaha. I thought of that because I have finally gone to the library after not going for several years. I went because I dont have the job with the free books anymore. I got *two* books.I am rather glad, now that I think about it, that when I am done reading these books, I can take them back to the library. They wont clutter up my house more than it already is.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Happy Dogs

Sometimes I wonder about why I find it so necessary to keep dogs. Part of it is that they are a deterrent against would be home invaders or at least they are a deterrent against the sane ones...owning dogs didnt keep that crazy naked man from running through my house for instance. But part of it is that there is just something about a dog that warms my heart.

I had one of those moments today when I took the girls for a walk to Riverside Park. We were walking and Tasha, the new dog, spotted some people with dogs on the other side of the park. She just got all excited about it and well...full of JOY. When we got close enough, I let her go over to meet them and as soon I said "OK" she just tore over to them all wiggles and happiness. Then, when I whistled for her, she came running back to me with the same enthusiasm. She expresses her joy with her WHOLE body too.

For Brooke, of course, going to the park is old hat but she still loves it and she too just pranced and ran and generally had a good time. Now we're all cozy in our little house and everyone is happy.

In short, the dogs remind me to have joy. And sometimes, like in the winter when it is dark all the time, I need that.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Hybrid Buses

Since Daylight Saving time ended, I've been getting up earlier which is saving me money again. I get a free bus pass from work so every day that I can get up in time, I save the cost of parking downtown and the cost of gasoline to drive downtown and the wear and tear on my car. It is an amount that I figure to be around $50/week.

I took the bus this morning and had the good fortune to ride one of those new hybrid buses. They are especially ugly buses but much nicer for riding in. They are quiet and less stinky. Well less stinky as in there seem to be less engine fumes but never fear, they may sport the odor of alcholic - cigarette addicted - non bathers. I sometimes wish we could go the way of SF and have all electric buses or even streetcars! Oh well, the hybrid buses are a move in the right direction and are a pleasure to ride. Ok, maybe not *pleasure* to ride but definitely an improvement.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


I cant think of any brilliant posts to write so I am just going to talk about my day...

I woke up and was glad that the sky was beginning to get light. I am NOT in favor of ending Daylight Saving time a week later. Seriously, I need to be up by 7:15am if I want to pack a lunch and take the bus to work from Ypsilanti. Last week, I kept waking up after 8am which meant that I had to drive to work and pay to park and even then, I was 10 minutes late a couple of times. Besides, having darkness in the mornings doesnt make me save energy because I turn on lights and then forget to turn them off when I leave. It is much much better for me to just wake up when it is light.

My work is going well. I enjoy it. I get to go swimming on my lunch hours. And today there was an announcement that we might be getting a pool table! It will mean getting rid of the ping pong table but everyone agreed that a pool table would be better for formulating and discussing ideas. I still dont get tired looking out of the windows but unfortunately now that the sun is to the south, there are certain times of day when it shines right into my eyes and then I have to shut the blinds. Still, sun in my eyes is better than no sun.

I went to Costco after work. How boring. The sad thing is that I pretty much only had enough money to pay for dog/cat food and treats for the dogs. Or maybe that is a good thing because Costco is an easy place to blow a lot of money.

Then I had dinner at my parents and picked up my dogs who were on vacation at the lake. Now I am home and I am going to watch a DVD and then I am going to see if I can find some election results before going to bed.

The thing is...I know that my life is somewhat boring now and I am kind of happy about it. It's all good boring. Which is way better than bad interesting, if you know what I mean.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sherman Alexie is Awesome

So I met up with a couple of my lovely neighbors and went to see that Sherman Alexie lecture thing at EMU. It was great! He is not only good at telling a story in print, he is good at telling a story in real life too. If there is one thing I love, it is a person who can tell a good story. I probably got that from living with my Dad who has a particular talent for oral story telling. Actually now that I think about it, a lot of folks in my family have that talent. It makes family events that much more interesting. I have noticed too that I am drawn to people with this particular talent. I have a lot of friends who really can spin a mean yarn when they need to. Sometimes their stories are so good, I repeat them. I know this is a trait a lot of others have too and that always makes me laugh.

It is funny though how sometimes a great story when told orally can become lifeless in a written form. Writing a story down takes away so much. You cant gesture or give people funny voices or anything when writing. I think that is why I am always so impressed with people who can take a story and give it life in print.

So what can I say about Alexie. Well, I'm impressed.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

The Road Not Taken

This morning, I heard a story on the radio about Antioch College in Yellow Springs, OH. They are in real danger of closing and are at the moment only staying open because the alumni have managed to raise enough money to keep them open.

I never was a student at Antioch but there was a time when I really wanted to be. I even visited their campus. I loved the place. It was exactly the sort of hippy dippy free thinking kind of place that I know I would have both loved and would have suited me best academically. When I first heard about Antioch and told my Dad about what a cool place it seemed, he just started laughing and said that every weirdo in our family has always wanted to go to Antioch so Why Not? My uncle and one of his cousins went there.

But I ended up deciding not to go. I got a scholarship to the local community college. I had a new boyfriend and I was all in love with him. The tuition at Antioch was way more than my parents could have afforded. EtC ETC. I took a different road.

It hasnt been bad. My life, in many ways, is really darn good. But every so often, I wonder how my life might have turned out differently if I had just gone to that school. Who would I have met? What would I have learned? It is during those moments when I think of a certain famous poem by Robert Frost. And then I laugh

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Stop City Income Tax - Vote On Tuesday, November 6

The town I live in, Ypsilanti, has an income tax issue on the ballot this Tuesday. It is for a proposed temporary income tax of 1% for city residents and 0.5% for non-residents who work in the city. There is some property tax roll back in the scheme which gives a break to people like me who own property in the city.

Oddly, I find myself in opposition of this tax. Most people who know me know that is not the usual position I take on these sorts of issues. I usually am very much in favor of tax increases especially when I think that the tax money will be spend wisely. I know that the last time I can remember any kind of tax increase in Ypsilanti being voted on (the road one around six or seven years ago), I voted yes for it. I just cannot, in good conscience vote for this income tax.

Firstly, I dont like it because I think that with the property tax roll back, it places more burden on renters than on homeowners. Since renters tend to be poorer, it puts too much burden on hard working lower income people who are the very group of people I believe should have tax burden lifted from them.

This poorer group is also represented by people who work in our city. Yeah, ok, the people over at EMU probably have pretty decent jobs at decent pay (especially the professors), but over on my street there is a factory. A factory which, judging by the cars its workers drive and by how many dont seem to have cars at all, clearly is not paying too much. And there are lots of other low-wage jobs in this city and those people probably cant afford the tax either. I mean, even if their tax burden is only a hundred dollars a year, it is important to remember that for a poor family, a hundred dollars is a LOT of money. It is a utility bill. It is a winter coat. It is a whole wardrobe from Value World. A week's groceries. Whatever. I just know when I see the workers at that factory that they can ill afford such a tax.

Another reason I am against this tax is that I think the main reason the City of Ypsilanti needs this tax is because the tax structure in our state is broken. I believe that this tax will not fix that but instead may hide some of the symptoms of it which will mean that things are less likely to change. Maybe the state needs to see cities like Ypsilanti struggling? Something has to change though. It sucks that I have to pay so much more tax than my neighbors in Ypsilanti Township. It sucks that I have to pay so much more tax than my parents, who live in Green Oak Twp in a house easily worth four times as much as mine. I dont mean that I have a higher rate either, I mean that I pay more tax...more than a thousand dollars more!

This income tax is also something that is very visible and something that will have an effect on the housing market here and not a positive one. I know that reduced fire and police protection and all of the other cuts that will happen without the income tax will also have a negative effect on house and rental prices but I think that because an income tax is so in-your-face visible and reduced fire and police are not things that one notices every day, the tax will have the more negative effect.

So, please vote NO on the City Income Tax.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Guilty Pleasures

Tonight, what I would be doing instead of blogging and what I will be doing as soon as I am done blogging, is to engage in some guilty pleasures of mine.

  1. Naturally, no guilty pleasure list would be complete without food. And tonight for dinner, I am having a great big giant "everything" bagel. It will be toasted and will have lots of cream cheese on it. YUM!
  2. I am going to watch Meerkat Manor. A show that I stumbled on over the summer while hanging out at my parents house. They have cable. I dont. But I have Netflix and Netflix has Meerkat Manor. So I have two DVD's of the cute little buggers to watch.
  3. Booze. Let's just say that I have a bottle of wine and I dont need to drive anywhere tonight.
  4. Pajamas. I LOVE pajamas.

Well, now that I think about it, that is a pretty lame list. In my younger days, I would have been dropping acid and staying up all night with my friends causing trouble. Although I sometimes miss those days too, there is something to be said for the life of a boring middle class middle aged lady too.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


November is National Novel Writing Month. Every since I first heard about NaNoWriMo, I've considered participating. I mean, writing a novel seems like a good goal for a person to have in life. And it is one that pretty much any literate person can achieve. I mean, the goal is just to write a novel. It isnt to write a good novel although that would be pretty cool. It isnt to get published. It is just about the act of creating. Also on my agenda for Someday is to create some kind of painting/fresco hybrid thingie. I think I have that one scheduled for the Tuesday after I win the lotto.

Anyways, as usual I am wimping out of NaNoWriMo. But, I am going to participate in the less ambitious NaBloPoMo - National Blog Posting Month! I am going to write a post every day in November. It is a good way to keep the ole noggin working and November is a month where I kind of need that. So...expect to hear a lot from me. I cant promise it will be any good, of course. But that goes without saying.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


I know that I havent been updating this blog much lately. It is weird but I just dont feel much like writing in the evenings for some reason. Part of it is that most things are going well.

Tasha, the new dog, is settling in. She's still destroying things when I go to work but usually very minor things. She has been re-potty trained for the most part. She likes going to the park and she likes going to the lake.

My job is still going well. I love having windows to look out of. Especially this time of year. The trees are in full color and I can see tons of them from my desk. I am keeping on top of all of the work. As I learn more, the work gets easier. On the days when I do get stressed, I use the Y membership they give me as a benefit to go swimming on my lunch hour. There is nothing that de-stresses me as well as swimming.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

For Cy Klone

I had a bowl of Mango flavored granola with 2% milk and an apple for breakfast this morning

Monday, October 15, 2007

New Dog

Well, I have finally decided to get another dog. I dont have any photos yet because I cant find the battery charger for my camera. But she is a yellow lab and well...pretty much looks like every other yellow lab out there. Generally I dont like pure bred dogs but I had reason to get this particular dog. I have a very elderly cat and needed a dog who wouldnt harass the poor dear. So, a friend of mine who volunteers at an animal shelter let me know that this dog has no interest in cats so I decided to try her out. I took her home for a weekend trial and she really has no interest in cats so she gets to stay.

There have been some problems though. She needs a refresher course in potty training but that has been going ok. She has separation anxiety and apparently can get destructive. Today, while I was at work, she didnt pee (GOOD DOG!) but she did get into the linen closet and tore up a couple of rolls of toilet paper and some menstrual pads (BAD DOG!). Hopefully she will become more calm as the week progresses.

She is five years old and her name is "Tasha"

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sherman Alexie

Sometimes it's called passing out and sometimes it's just pretending to be asleep.

Sometime ago, I had a literature class where we read a collection of short stories written by Sherman Alexie called The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven. There was one day where a friend called me to tell me that a mutual acquaintance of ours had committed suicide the night before by jumping in front of a train. That very evening I settled onto my couch to do some required reading for my class. I live next to the train tracks and trains come through several times a day and, as it happens, a couple of trains went by while I was reading.

The story was one of the most powerful stories I've ever read. The things going on my real life while I read it just made it more so. The story was A Train is an Order of Occurrence Designed to Lead to Some Result which you can read HERE

Since that time. Sherman Alexie has been one of my favorite authors. I admire him. I am jealous of his gift. I find his work entertaining. He makes me think. I guess you could say that I am a big fan.

Last night, I found out that Sherman Alexie is going to be speaking at Eastern Michigan University on Monday, November 5. Better still, as far as I can tell, the event is free!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

corn plastic

I've noticed a lot of corn plastic around these days. I am not normally a cup reader but the other day, I read my cup of iced tea from Sweetwaters and noticed that it said it was made with some kind of bio-degradable plastic made from corn. And then tonight while I was waiting for my sandwich at Cafe Luwak I noticed that they had a sign up that said that they too were using this corn plastic.

I can not wrap my brain around this stuff. I just cant see how corn can become plastic. It just seems not right to me.

But I can say this, there is something different about this corn plastic. It has a different feel to it and the more I see it, the more I am coming to like it. I dont know what it is about it.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

People Who Died

I keep thinking that I want to write a little bit about my Baba's life since it was a pretty interesting life and certainly a long one. I am not especially ready for that yet though.

My grandmother was 93 years old. She died while eating breakfast. She had a waffle shaped like Mickey Mouse. My aunt said that she had eaten two ears and half a face before she died. She didnt choke. She wasnt ill. She just woke up that morning, sat down to breakfast, ate half of it...and died. Not a bad way to go if you ask me.

So, I caught a cold at the funeral from kissing too many relatives I guess. So I am cranky. Which is why it sucks that I cant get Jim Carroll's People who Died song out of my head. I feel like I want to add another verse:

"Baba ate two ears and half a face. She was 93 when she died...93 WHEN SHE DIED...
These are people who died died. They were all my friends, and they died!!!!"

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Baba RIP

My last remaining grandparent died this morning. It hasnt really hit me yet but I am sure it will. She lived a long life and was well into her 90's so it isnt exactly surprising but well...I guess I feel a little surprised by it. Are we ever really ready for someone's death?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Running into People

I have to say that one of the nicest things about working downtown is that I run into people I know almost every day. I ran into Kate the other day which was fun. I havent talked to her in a while and she walked me to the bus stop and chatted while I waited for my bus which certainly is a nice way to pass the time.

Yesterday morning as I was hurrying along Main Street, I ran into my friend Aviva's mother. Then, as I was sitting at my desk looking out at the Fleetwood, I saw Aviva herself helping her husband put up flyers for his band's show next weekend at the Heildelberg.. Later, I went over to the Fleetwood for lunch where I heard the full story about the flyers. Apparently there is some guy named "Richard" who goes around taking down people's flyers. Aviva caught him taking down her husband's flyers and yelled at him. I wish I had seen that!

Monday, September 10, 2007


I can be pretty lame sometimes. This past Saturday, I went on a tour bus trip to a casino. My friend, Heather, volunteers for a charity and her charity had a fund raiser where folks paid $25 bucks for a bus ride from Belleville to Greektown Casino. So I figured it is for a good cause and I enjoy Greektown *and* gambling *and* Heather's company so I signed up for the event. We went out to dinner at Hellas which has been a favorite place of mine since the first time I was taken there as a small child and the waitress came out with the OPA! cheese. It is funny because I have always wondered about the people arriving at Casinos in big tour buses. I always wondered what kind of person would decide to go to the casino on a big ole party bus. Now I know :) Anyways,I won $50.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


Well, my second week at the new job seems to be going well. Folks there seem to think I am doing a good job which is good. I have some ideas for making things more efficient that I hope they will like. The commute remains terrible. Today I dropped off my Dad's car at the body shop and took the bus into work. That wasnt too bad. But coming home was a NIGHTMARE. It took me an hour and a half door to door. Yuck. Oh well. I guess I know what to expect tomorrow though.

I got to thinking about the economics of public transportation though. In the past week and a half, I have ridden on several AATA routes. The buses always have plenty of riders. This morning the #4 was so crowded, I wasnt sure anyone else would be able to get onto it. Granted, I am only riding the bus at rush hour but still... Anyways, it seems to me that one of the biggest costs for the bus is labor so I started thinking about ways that AATA could reduce labor costs while making people's commutes better too.

The answer is technology. I know this is a pipe dream but I wonder if the technology exists to build some kind of elevated light rail/monorail that doesnt need a person driving the train. And if so, I wonder how much it would cost to build such a thing. I imagine that it must cost a lot. And by "a lot" I mean an amount where the AATA wouldnt be able to recoup the costs quickly enough with whatever labor savings they might have. Still, it would be nice to have such a thing running between Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. It seems to me that if one could get from Ypsi to Ann Arbor in 20 mins or so without getting stuck in traffic, more people would become mass transit riders.

Well, enough with the bus I guess...

Labor Day Weekend was really nice. I had people up to the lake on Saturday and Sunday. We had a blast. Shannon brought me a birthday cake on Sunday which was really nice. The weather was great. We swam a lot. It was all good.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Adventures with AATA

The first week at my new job has been going well. The only thing about it that I dont like is the commute. It has been taking me between 45 minutes and an hour and a half EACH WAY. This is mostly because of traffic. I've been going to the Pioneer High school park and ride but the traffic getting there is bad and then the bus has to fight even worse traffic on Main Street. I am hoping that all of this traffic isnt normal and it is due to this being student move in week. We'll see.

AATA operates only one single express bus and it isnt one from Ypsi. It goes from the Plymouth Road Mall to Downtown. It might be faster for me to drive to the Plymouth Road Mall and park there and then take the Express bus downtown. I dont think I should catch too much traffic going over that way.

Or I might just take the bus all the way from Ypsilanti. I think spending that much time on the bus might make me go crazy though. I have always really hated riding the bus. I often get motion sickness from being on the bus which is kind of weird because I almost never get motion sickness in cars unless certain people are driving.

Another possibility at least when the weather is nice would be to catch the Washtenaw bus with my bike in the bike rack. I could get off at S. University and Washtenaw and then have a five-ten minute bike ride to work. I know I would be allowed to bring my bike into the office.

Anyways, transportation issues aside. I am really loving my new job. My work environment is really awesome and I am starting to do actual work now which is nice. It is really nice to be downtown too. Today I spent my lunch hour walking around and then I went and got a coffee at SweetWaters Cafe, which while expensive has really nice coffee. I am pretty sure that even though it is across the street, I might be able to connect to my new company's wireless connection from there which means that I'll probably be able to work from there sometimes once I am confident enough to do work without constantly asking questions.

Monday, August 27, 2007

First Day at Work

I had my first day at my new job today. So good. I have a lot of confidence that I will be able to do what they need me to do. I have a to learn of course but I am good at that sort of thing. Everyone is nice there and helpful. They took me out to lunch for my first day which was really nice. And the WINDOWS! I had windows all day and not just any windows...but windows with an actual NICE VIEW. A nice view of trees and downtown. I can see The Fleetwood Diner from my desk. My former boss kept calling it The Treehouse because she couldnt remember the company name but I have to say that it really felt like being in a Treehouse.

Working downtown will probably be good for my health too. For one thing, I am working on the third floor so going up and down stairs all day will be a good thing. But also, my new company gives everyone a membership to the Y, which is a mere two blocks away (I can see that from my desk too). That means that I can go swimming on my lunch hour if I want to.

I still have to work out the parking thing. I parked at the park and ride at Pioneer HS and that worked ok but I wonder if another park and ride might be faster. I am going to check it out. I cant afford to park in the city lot that is right across the street except once in a while. It's $9/day.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Car Thieves in Ypsilanti

Last night I had dinner with some neighbors and there was some talk about crime and safety in the neighborhood -- mostly in relation to reducing city services like the police force. As it happens, I am not against reducing some services but I am not so sure about reducing police and fire services.

And just in case I needed a reminder about why, the car I've borrowed from my Dad was broken into last night. At first I thought I had forgotten to lock it but the police officers who took the report pointed out where the thieves had forced open the drivers side door lock. They also pried apart the ignition which activated the anti-theft system so now, the car wont start. The cops said that they probably tried to steal it because it is a Chrysler and apparently Chryslers are easy cars to steal...usually. Not all of them have anti-theft systems I guess. The tow truck driver said the same thing.

Ok, the anti-theft system did what it was supposed to do and the car wasnt stolen. But I had to have it towed to the Chrysler dealership and I had to take today off of work (unpaid) which I can ill afford. Again, I guess I should be grateful that this happened today rather than next week when I'll be in my first week at my new job.

I have to admit though, that I am getting tired of this. I usually dont lock my car and it gets broken into on average about once a month. But no one has ever actually tried to steal my car before. They just take loose change and returnable bottles usually. This is a somewhat recent thing too. It was a few years after I first moved in here that my car was broken into. It bugs the crap out of me though. It bugs me that there are people in the world who have so little respect for the property of others. It bugs me that we have an economy were some people get desperate. This summer has been pretty bad for me crime wise too. I had my hand chair stolen from my porch, I had a guy sleeping on my lawn in his underpants and a sleeping bag stolen from my neighbor..and now this.

I cant help wondering if all of this petty theft has something to do with the whole situation at the jail. The jail is always full so often the police arrest people and then just let them go right away. The people who live far away from Ypsilanti generally are the ones who have voted not to spend money to expand the jail. Why should they? They dont have the same crime problems. They have been able to move away from such social issues.

Right now, I cant say that I totally blame them. Well, I blame them for not voting to expand the jail but I dont really blame them for choosing to remove themselves geographically from the crime that necessitates a jail and an expensive police force. If you live far from the poor people, you are much less likely to be a victim of a crime. So you can get away with less police and that saves you money on your taxes. It is normal and rational for a person to make such a decision.

As much as I complain about the tax rate in Ypsilanti, we dont pay the same taxes that people who live in the City of Detroit pay. They *really* pay through the nose tax wise and I dont mind mentioning that their city income tax combined with the highest property tax rate in the state combined with lousy services has not really encouraged people to move there. One has to wonder, is Ypsilanti headed in the same direction?

Our tax system is broken. Seriously. You see, when people are looking around for a place to live, they can choose a place like Ypsilanti or Detroit. But there is infrastructure in place in those places that has to be paid for. There are old employee pensions, roads, parks, etc. OR people can choose to live someplace close to the city where they can avoid paying for city services while still benefiting from proximity to the city. Then, as the people who can afford to move out, move out, they leave behind the people who really cant afford to leave. They leave behind the social problems and poverty that lead to higher crime levels which leaves fewer tax payers to pay for those things. That higher taxation further discourages the people who can best afford to pay for things from moving into cities. And so on... Combine all of that with other market forces and voila! You have SE Michigan and all of the sprawl that is so characteristic of this area.

So? What is to be done. I know some people take the view that the answer is to gentrify the area, to drive up rents and property values so much that the poor people are forced to move. I wonder how much of this type of thinking was behind the failed Water Street project? It certainly seems to be a technique that has worked for Ann Arbor. Ann Arbor is much more high brow than it was when I first moved there 22 years ago. But, I think Water Street is a good example of how the gentrification approach is nearly impossible.

A better approach would be to fix the property tax structure so that tax payers in areas with a lot of social problems dont end up paying for *all* of those problems while people who live in places removed from them dont pay anything at all. Of course, that solution might be just as impossible at least judging from the jail situation. I still say that the Ypsilanti police should start releasing people who would have gone to the jail if there had been room in places like Saline or Milan or even Ypsilanti Twp. That might motivate those motherfuckers to vote for a bigger jail!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

You'll Be Sorry

I picked up a book in the free book room yesterday. (This is my last week of the free book room which is one benefit of this job I will surely miss). This book is a book of poems written by Jeffrey Skinner called Salt Water Amnesia. The poems are decent but not likely to become favorites, although with poetry, you never know. Sometimes a poem read and cast off becomes a favorite later on. Many of these poems are prose poems. A lot of people don't even think prose poems should be considered poems but I have to admit that I really like them. I often wish I had a better command of metaphor, simile, analogy, and other symbolic language. Then I would be able to impress people with my brilliant prose poems instead of writing them on scraps of paper to be tossed into a notebook at the bottom of my closet.

This batch of poems isn't bad. There is one that I like better than the others called White Dwarf. This is the beginning of it:

One day when our sun runs out of fuel and collapses inward under its own weight, then picks up enough mass from its neighbor to explode outward, the blown debris approaching a good fraction of the speed of light, then, then, you'll be sorry.

I like this one because it really captures an emotion I feel when someone hurts me. I often imagine some future scenario where everything goes wrong for the object of my ire. Usually my fantasy involves them realizing at the last minute how very wrong they were to have hurt me. It is childish, I know, but it always makes me feel better. And as long as I keep my thoughts to myself, it is a perfectly harmless exercise. Still, there is an absurdity to it too and that particular line in Skinner’s poem brought that home to me. Yeah yeah...Someday when the earth is in flames and you are DEAD, you'll be thinking all about *me* ME *me* because you wont have anything better to think about. And you'll be sorry. Your last thought will be deep regret for taking my heart and stomping on it over and over until it squished through your toes. Yeah, you'll be sorry alright. You're probably sorry that you forgot to pick up your drycleaning that one time too. And sorry that you cut off that lady in traffic that other time. You're sorry alright. Riiiiiight.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Last Week

I am in my last week at my current job. It is funny how hard a last week can be. I thought it would be easy because of the whole light at the end of the tunnel effect. But instead, I just want to be gone. I have cleaned out my cube of all of my personal stuff. I am ready to be gone. Oh well, I still have things to do around here to finish up. Mostly I am trying to write documents so that the people they hire off the street with limited computer skills can have a tiny chance of fixing things. I have to admit, though, that the literacy skills of some of the recent hires are so lacking that I am not entirely sure they'll be able to read anything I write down.

One thing that is good about this being my last week is that self evaluations are going to be due for the mid year reviews soon. And I don't have to do one!

Saturday, August 18, 2007

My Lines! My Lines! I Can't Remember My Lines

I was chatting with some co-workers the other day about commercials and one of them mentioned that the Detroit Zoo was running some of their older commercials and especially one particular classic commercial that they ran for YEARS back in the 80's. We found it on YouTube and it is funny how something like this can be stored almost hidden in one's memory for *years* but almost perfectly. I mean, I havent thought about this commercial EVER that I can think of and yet when I saw it running again, I was able to go along with it perfectly while anticipating the next line. Weird. I guess I can remember my lines after all

Thursday, August 16, 2007

When it Rains, It Pours

I have kind of fixed my computer. I have fixed it up enough that I can get on the internet anyways. I think I can replace all of the applications I had on the old computer since so much of it was freeware anyways. I might have to buy a word processing program but then again, I might not. I mean, now that I am not going back to school, I don't know how much word processing I'll be doing.

I spoke to the graduation audit person at EMU yesterday. She had called several times while I was in Nova Scotia. She said that I hadn't listed a minor on my graduation application. I said that I didn't know that a minor was *required* but she said that it was. I told her that I never picked a minor because I never was able to make up my mind. I spent about 30 seconds wondering how many classes I was going to have to take to pick up a minor in something...ANYTHING. I wondered if there might be a minor in belly button lint picking because that is about all the higher education I felt up to. And then, she chimed in with her happy cheery voice, "You have enough credits for a minor in Psychology"

So I was all like, "Hell FUCK yeah! That's what I want!!!" (although I didn’t say *exactly* that) And ta-da...I am a college graduate with a BS degree in Economics and a minor in Psychology. I am glad that I got a BS degree too rather than a BA degree because somehow the BS seems more appropriate.

And what would a new college graduate need most you might ask? A new job perhaps? Well, hunky dory lucky me, I have one of those too. Hot DAMN this has been a good summer for me.

The job thing is totally a silver lining behind the dark cloud sort of thing too. I had a conflict at work that was enough to get me looking for another job. I happened to check craigslist for reasons I don't even know because I would never have thought to look for a job there. I guess I was thinking that it wouldn't hurt to be thorough. Anyhoo...there was only one job there but it was The Job. It was the kind of job where, when I read the job description, I just couldn't even believe it. It had crossed my mind that one of my friends who knew I was job hunting had put it there as a prank. It was that good. It is a tech support position at a small software company but one that is growing and one where there will be many opportunities for me to grow along with them. I am going to learn some really exciting things.

I sent my resume. It never hurts to do that. Within a couple of days, I had my first interview. It was one of the best interviews I have ever had in my life. The guy who interviewed me even used to work with one of the people I had listed as a reference! I met some of the other people who work there. I thought everyone was really nice. I got this feeling that I would fit in well. The offices have WINDOWS! Seriously, work for eight years in a windowless cubicle and then laugh when someone suggests that something like a window can be the icing on the cake of a good job. Anyways, a couple of days later, on my last day in Michigan before leaving on vacation, I had a second interview and a job offer. Man, did *that* make my vacation extra nice.

So, I have a week and a half here at my current job. I start my new job on 8/27. I’ll be working in downtown Ann Arbor. I don't know what I'll do about parking yet. Most likely, I'll start taking the bus to work.

Oh and the week I got my job offer, my brother got a really good promotion at work and my parents won all of their sailboat races. So when it rains, it pours eh? My mother says that someone in our family needs to buy a lotto ticket!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Home Again

I am home again. I always love coming home from a trip. There is nothing like a trip to make one appreciate the comforts of home. Unfortunately, one of the comforts of my home, my computer, is still broken. I should have it fixed today but I might have to order a restore disk which could delay things. Welcome to hte real world :) At any rate, my blogging might be lacking for a few more days. Just a few more days though.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Blogging on Vacation

I am on vacation at the moment in Baddeck, Nova Scotia. I am just hanging out at the local library at the moment and I have just under a half an hour left of precious computer time. Yes, I have chosen not to go sailing again tonight so I can spend time sitting inside writing. True confessions time I guess. I am an addict.

But I am having a good time. My friends' house is a fabulously rustic old farmhouse. I'll post some photos when I get home. The time away from the internet has mostly been good for me. I have been reading some good novels and thinking that it is a shame that I dont make time to do that more often. I have been swimming in Bras D'or Lake (saltwater lake) almost every day. I have been stung by a jelly fish and although my friends offerred to pee on me, I declined. I think the kind of jellyfish here are kind of mild as jellyfish go though. The kids keep getting stung repeatedly and keep going back for more. I've gotten good at spotting them and swimming in weird zig zag patterns to avoid them.

I have been sailing in a small boat and have decided that I probably wont be reliving my teenaged years of sailing small boats all day. I think it is going to be keel boats for me from here on out. Keel boats and kayaks...and pontoons. It makes me feel old. But that is ok. I am old. Or maybe I'll just say that I am old-ish. A few days ago though, I watched a sailboat race with a finish in the harbor. That was unusual. I saw this one boat make the moves on another boat and it was beautiful. Seriously beautiful.

I saw a seal today in the lake. Well, it was either a seal or an underwater swimming dog. My vote is for seal. I saw a bald eagle in a nest next to the beach at the house. I had a partridge follow me for miles because one of the kids had fed it a cookie just before I happened along. I flipped out about the partridge. Yup, a bird smaller than a chicken apparently has the power to cause me to lose it. I called it a MOTHER its face!

Tonight, after the library closes, I am going to go to a caleigh where my friends and I will just sit back and enjoy some of the local music.

And yet, I am homesick. I miss my dog.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Fat, Broke, and Lonely

Someone was telling me about a book called Fat, Broke & Lonely No More!. Amazon has the following description about it:

Do you ever obsess about whether to order dessert, buy those pricey sandals, or be totally honest on a third date?

If so, then you are already acquainted with the fear of being fat, broke & lonely. If only we could eat less, get paid better, and be more outgoing.

Only it's not that simple. Our endless quest to be fit, flush, and partnered (no matter where we fall on the scale) inevitably makes us feel fat, broke & lonely. The symptoms are anxiety, shame, and fear, and the diagnosis is feeling miserable about ourselves. We have two choices: give up, convinced that this is just a lifelong, losing battle, or go toe-to-toe with our negative self-image and take back our lives.

Real-life anecdotes, practical strategies, and a touch of sass make this revolutionary five-step plan a must-read. First, Moran helps us discover the root of the symptoms. Then we learn how to break up with fat, broke & lonely for good. And finally, we learn how to hook up with the life of our dreams—and who doesn't want that?

I havent read this book yet but I am very interested in it. I am curious at what her solutions might be. I hope it is something more that a glorified instruction manual for losing weight, earning more money, and gettin' hitched. Nevertheless, just the title got me thinking. I have to admit that I think it is interesting that the author of this book is addressing all of these things together in one book. At first, I thought it was odd but when I stopped to think about it, it all makes a kind of sense because those things are all connected in a way.

I mean, I am fat. And like it or not, being fat makes it MUCH harder to find a mate. Being single increases loneliness. But it also has financial implications since single women tend to be poorer than married women. In my own case, I have a household income that is just slightly below the mean household income in the USA. But if I were married to someone with the same income, the two of us would have an income in the top 20% of household incomes. That is a difference between having a middle class income and an upper middle class income.

So...Fat, Broke, and Lonely. Here are my thoughts on each of those things.

Re: Fat.

Well, since I *am* fat, I pretty much always feel fat. What I have learned is that being fat is probably outside of my control. Or rather, what it would take for me to be not fat is more than I can do and still be sane and happy. I have also learned that doesnt mean that I am a bad person. Being fat also doesnt mean that I necessarily have to be terribly unhealthy. So I changed my goal away from losing weight and have made new goals that are more attainable. e.g. walking several times a week is a goal. Making sure I eat enough fruits and veggies is a goal. Reducing my sugar intake is a goal. Those are all good things but are not things that cause me to lose a significant amount of weight.

I have put a lot of focus on not internalizing the messages our culture has about fat, especially those messages that arent based in fact. For instance, it isnt laziness on my part that keeps me fat. It isnt a complete lack of willpower that keeps me fat. It is a constant battle though because our culture tends to shame people for being fat. A lot of people consider it a moral failing.

Basically my solution to feeling fat has been to change my outlook on what fat means. It doesnt mean I am unhealthy although since it is a risk factor for certain things, it does mean that I need to monitor my health more closely than others might need to. It doesnt mean that I am a bad person. It doesnt mean that I am ugly. It just means that I have a body shape that is different than most people's.

Re: Broke

I am often broke. Some of that is due to some bad financial management on my part but ironicly some it that is due to good financial management on my part, i.e. I feel broke when I dont have enough money to buy things that I want but not buying them anyways on credit is good financial management.

Lately though, I have been under more financial stress than usual. If I were to lose my job, I dont know what I'll do. Unemployment benefits would not be enough for meto live on. I might need to sell my house in such a situation if I couldnt find a job within a month or so. Almost all of my savings are in my retirement account which I could access but with penalties. I would hate to do that but if push came to shove, I guess I would have to.

What this has taught me more than anything is that I *really* need to work more on getting my financial house in order. I need to spend even less than I am spending now. I might need to try to find a roommate or something. I need to save more money so I can have that six months of salary that everyone recommends saved up so that if I ever find myself in a situation where I might lose my job, I wont be stressed out about it.

Re: Lonely.

I guess there are different types of loneliness.

There is what I consider real lonliness where one finds oneself cut off from the rest of the world. Sometimes in the winter I experience this because I tend to get depressed in the winter. It is a vicious cycle. I get depressed enough that just going to work sucks up most of my energy so I dont make an effort to socialize. Then the lack of social interaction means that I start to feel lonely, which makes me more depressed, which in turn, makes me even less likely to do social things. I often have to make a real effort to socialize even if it is only talking to someone on the phone for a half hour.

Being social and making the emotional connections that prevent loneliness are hard work. But important work. When I feel lonely, I call people and make an effort to see them. I tell people I love them. I hug my friends.

There is also the loneliness of being single. Some of that, though, isnt real loneliness on my part, but rather a response to cultural expectations that people, and especially women, be partnered up. Mostly, I have decided that I am going to be single for the rest of my life and I have come to terms with that. I honestly believe that it is better to be single than to be with the wrong person. If the right person should happen to come along, that is great.

Being single and feeling that particular kind of loneliness is still hard though. I dont meet very many men that I am interested in but when I do, they have (so far) pretty much always rejected me at some point or another. Well, all the men have rejected me except for the ones I rejected first! haha. Seriously though, that is a mind set I fall into occasionally. I will think, "Every man in the world has rejected me" but really that isnt true because there have been men who havent but whom I felt were lacking in one way or another so I actually was the one who rejected them. I guess it is easier to forget the people one rejects as romantic partners than the other ones. And ok, while I am not beating my many suiters off with a stick (although I did recently have a guy camped out on my front lawn), I do have some men who are interested. It just hasnt been anyone in whom I am also interested.

In conclusion, I guess I have to say that I am fat, broke, and lonely at least by many other people's definitions and I dont think it is all that bad really. There are worse things certainly and my life is generally pretty good!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

The friends have arrived

Well, Shannon/Caleb and family have arrived. So I probably wont be doing *too* much blogging. Here is a photo of Anja updating her blog...

I have to say, that her blog is pretty interesting for a blog written by a kid. If you want to check it out, Click Here for SuperJimPandaBear

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Job Hunting

It turns out that the anxiety I was feeling yesterday at work was totally and completely well founded. I am currently looking for another job. I think that finding another job is a skill and one that I have never really cultivated in myself. The truth is that I have never gotten a job where someone I know didnt ask me to come apply. Jobs in the past have landed in my lap. I dont think I am good at selling myself.

But I need to get better at that. I have a lot of skills that someone surely will find useful. The question is how can I make others see that I am a hard worker and that I am really smart? I work well with others. I actually really love giving really good customer service because there is nothing nicer than making people happy all day or making other people's jobs easier. I am really good at that too.

Anyways, I think the hardest part of this is going to be all of the rejection I am likely to get. I mean everyone I know who has gone on a job search has always had to apply for several jobs and has always needed to go on several job interviews. I think I am ready for that though. I think I can present myself well. So wish me luck!

Monday, July 16, 2007

Angst and The Rules

I feel really weird at the moment. I guess it is a feeling that can best be described as angst. Probably it is just a normal worry about the next horrible situation at work that I am likely to have to deal with. I hope that is what it is. I wasnt feeling this earlier in the day.

Today actually started out pretty good. I had an email from a long lost friend in my inbox and that made me really happy as he was at one time one of my very best friends. We've just fallen out of touch in recent years which happens sometimes. I kind of had to laugh though because I have been saying "I know that I never call and never write but that doesnt mean that I dont love you" to a lot of people lately.

Which kind of reminds me of that lovely dating handbook The Rules. Because one of the things they keep saying over and over is that if someone is interested in you or cares, they will call. I KNOW that isnt true because there are a lot of people in this world whom I LOVE dearly and whom I seldom call. I found a copy in the free book room lately and brought it home. I figured it would be good for a laugh. And it was. I mean the whole thing is just chock full of crazy rules that I cant imagine might work. I can say that out of a sense of curiosity, I decided to follow all of "The Rules" for one week. They didnt work for me any better than the more traditional dating advice of "just be yourself." The advantage of the latter though is that I kind of like being myself. So I am going to stick to that one.

Reading The Rules did get me thinking about some things. Mostly I thought the entire thing was complete bullshit. I had to wonder how I might feel if following The Rules had helped me. I mean, it is basically a manual on manipulation. Not my thing really. And I think I would resent being with someone if I felt that I had had to manipulate him into being with me. Ah well, the chapters are short and it is good bathroom reading. Like most things there are a couple of good points tucked in there here and there. Things like, you cant change people so if the guy you are dating isnt treating you well when you are dating, the odds are that he wont suddenly shape up once he has a wedding ring on his finger. But ok. Other than that, it is pretty much bullshit.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Crazy Weekend
Man, I can not believe how wild this weekend has been. I put in 10 hours of overtime for work by 3p Saturday afternoon and pretty much all of it was involuntary. Unfortunately, I cant really talk about the details because of my company's draconian blog policy. But I was in danger of missing the graduation party my sister was having for me and the conflict was *really* stressing me out. It isnt common for my job to reduce me to tears but it happened this weekend. Oh well, I have sent out some wish me luck. I have to admit though that the whole prospect of a serious job search stresses me out a lot too. I have rejection issues and all of the rejection that is a normal part of a job search really gets to me.

I got lucky though and the universe aligned in my favor so that I was able to show up at my sister's party on time and I was able to enjoy myself. She lives on the same lake that my parents do and I love hanging out there. I had lots of good conversations with everyone.

This morning though, the hard drive on my laptop died. And of course, I have no backup and I should know better! Oh well, I'll try to recover whatever I can. Luckily these laptop hard drives are cheap and I can get one twice as big as the old one for under $100. Now, I am sitting here on my other computer which I dont like as much. But at least I havent been cut off of the internet. I mean, how else could I spend an entire day procrastinating about cleaning the house?

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I'm So Hot, I Have Men Camped Out On My Front Lawn

I am really tired today. I woke up at around 4:30 this morning and I happened to look out of my front window. There was a guy camped out on my front lawn with a sleeping bag! At first I thought he was a dog so I went and put some clothes on so I could go out to see if it had tags but when I looked out of the window again, I noticed he was standing up and wearing his hooded sleeping bag like a cape and dressed only in his underpants. I really couldn’t tell much about him except that he was no dog. He was just a silhouette in the glow of the street light.

He kind of reminded me of a guy I used to know named Bruce who always wore a hooded cape and had I not recently learned of Bruce’s death, I might have actually thought it was him. Not only because of the cape but because it simply wouldn’t surprise me to find Bruce sleeping on some random lawn in Ypsilanti. In a way I wish it had been Bruce because that would mean that the rumors I had heard of his death had been false. Also, I know that he wouldn’t ever hurt anyone.

I thought of just ignoring the guy and letting him try to get some small amount of sleep. But I couldn’t. I mean, I just couldn’t go back to sleep myself knowing that guy was out there. It was creepy. I kept thinking of that naked man who broke into my house a few years back. What if *this* guy decided to try something similar while I was asleep? There were my neighbors to consider too. What if he decided to try something similar over at their houses while they were asleep? It just didn’t seem prudent to ignore him.

I didn’t want to deal with him on my own though either. So I called the police. As usual, I was very impressed with the response I got from the Ypsilanti Police Department. I called their non-emergency number and they were still at my house within five minutes. They told me that hanging out dressed in underpants and wearing a sleeping bag like a cape is not a crime but they were sympathetic that I was scared about the guy being on my lawn. And they got him to leave although he left his sleeping bag. I moved that this morning because it looked like it could be an expensive one and since today is trash day, I worried that it might get picked up. At any rate, I continue to have a strong appreciation for the Ypsilanti Police Department. They’ve always responded quickly even for minor things.

I cant get this guy off of my mind though. Why was he camped out on my front lawn? I mean other than the obvious explanation that I am so beautiful that it isn’t surprising at all for me to have men camped on my front lawn ;). But seriously, I wonder what his story is. Is he one of the mentally ill guys from one of the local group homes? Is he one of those people in town who get caught up in all of the drugs and prostitution that goes on over on Michigan Ave? Was he kicked out of his house in the middle of the night to wander the neighborhood wearing only his underpants? I guess there is no way to know. I hope that he is ok. I hope that the police could help him.

Update: I found out later that the sleeping bag belonged to my neighbor where it had been stolen from her truck. I am especially glad that I moved the sleeping bag now that I know it didnt even belong to him but actually belonged to my neighbor.

Monday, July 09, 2007

What a Weekend!

Whew. I had a busy weekend!


I spent Friday night at my grandmother's house. She is pretty old and is having mobility issues and is in danger of falling. She cant even get out of bed on her own which is an obvious safety issue. So someone has to stay with her all the time. Usually it is my aunt who does that but she was on vacation so my sister and I were watching her over the weekend. It was nice spending time with her but exhausting too. I cant imagine being the primary care giver for an elderly person. My hats are off to anyone who takes on that role.


On Saturday, I went and hung out in Detroit with a whole bunch of people who, like me, grew up there. A bunch of them still live in the city and some are like me and have moved out to the 'burbs.* We hung out at Brent and Gianna's house for a bit which was cool. My friend Anna was visiting from LA. I could go on and on about what a great person Anna is but I figure that the people who read this who know her already know that and no one else will really care.

I went to the City Fest at the New Center by myself because Anna wanted to go to a movie at the DIA and I didn't want to see it. I got really lucky because I ran into my friend Burton within about five minutes. Burton always cracks me up and makes me laugh. I went to middle school with Burton**. I must have met him in seventh grade which would mean that I've known him since I was 12 which means that I've known him for more than 25 years!

At City Fest, I got to see a band that I particularly enjoyed called Yo La Tengo. I had never heard of them. I don't usually indulge in too much live music because I am really cheap. But this concert was FREE which is my favorite kind. One of the best things about free concerts is that it allows a person to take a chance on something. I mean, what was the worst that could happen? I might not like which case, I could just leave. But I did really like them! Now I might have to buy an album or something.

Eventually we all ended up at the Majestic where I had a pretty nice time talking to lots of people. I sometimes think of myself as being kind of anti-social and it is true that I do spend a lot of time alone and also true that I generally enjoy that time. But I am also a talker and once I get going...well..."blah blah blah"! It was wild being there at that bar with lots of people with such similar backgrounds to me. I mean, I have a lot of friends "from high school" but most of those people are from the high school I went to for my senior year, CHS in Ann Arbor. They are all fun people but none of them understand anything about the high school I went to for three years in Detroit, Cass Tech. It was kind of fun talking about Cass Tech and stuff.


Sunday was hot. It was one of those days with a hot wind where you just cant get cool no matter what you do which, of course, means that there is only one thing to do: Go to the LAKE!!! I had quite a day there. I had my sister's dog Buddy with me and my own dog, Brooke. The evil dog hating neighbors were there so I put Brooke and Buddy out on the swim raft which worked really well until it was time to go back to shore. Neither one of those jerks would get off the raft. I thought about climbing onto the raft myself to push them off but decided it would be easier to just take the kayak out to them. I got on the kayak and both dogs were willing to get on it. Unfortunately, Buddy isn't much like Brooke who sits still in the kayak and he leaned over too far and tipped the kayak over. Brooke got stuck underneath it which was really scary for her. She could of drowned! But she didn't and later on I took her back out in the kayak and she didn't seem too scared of it so at least that didn't traumatize her.

The best part of the day though was when two loose dogs came by and went over to the horrible neighbors' house where they were all gathered. I am not sure but I think they had food on the ground like last time and I think the dogs went for it. It was awesome because this time I could laugh at them for keeping their food on the ground knowing that the really bitchy lady wasn't going to come yell at me for it. All I had to do was sit and watch the screaming and chasing of dogs and general chaos. Ah...sweet sweet schadenfreude!

* It is funny, though, because even though I am 1/2 hour from Downtown Detroit, I just don't think of Ypsilanti as being a suburb of Detroit. I think of it more as a suburb of Ann Arbor.
** At Burton International School (just another weird coinicidence)

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Power and Control: The Corporate World

I had a conversation with a co-worker today about a former supervisor of mine. More than any other supervisor, I really disliked working for this guy. One time I even got so upset with him that I stood up and walked out. I have never done that before or since but that day, my choice was to calmly say that I wasnt feeling well before walking out or to start screaming my head off. I guessed that the latter action would have been rather embarrassing for me.

Mostly what I didnt like about this guy was how controlling he was. He was constantly looking over everyone's shoulders to try to catch us surfing the web. He got himself on a committee to change the dress code to one that was more restrictive. He would just randomly tell people to do things and would get angry if anyone questioned him at ALL. The time I got upset with him, I was clocked out but sitting at my desk when he came and told me to move. I said that I was at lunch and he said that it didnt matter.

So I said that I would move right on over to the time clock to punch in and he forbade me to punch in so I told him that I was punching in and if he had a problem with it, he should discuss it with the HR department and then in my own special "fuck you" kind of way that I know others find annoying, I told him that when he talked to the HR department he might want to mention the FLSA and the Dept of Labor's views about firms having their employees work off the clock.

Basically, a little bit of labor law worked in my favor that day. He couldnt fire me because it would have been illegal (and an incident with another co-worker that happened a week later kind of led me to believe that he would have fired me if he could have). I was insubordinate but since he was telling me to do something illegal, I was protected.

The funny thing about this guy too was that he actually is a pretty nice guy in every other situation. He is not alone. So many people, when given any kind of power over anyone else, act as if someone had just given them a jackass pill! That is what happens when one guy gets to supervise 8 people. What happens to people who find themselves in charge of large corporations?

The other day I was watching a documentary about Ralph Nader. They mentioned that after _Unsafe at Any Speed_ was published, Nader thought he was being followed. Nader reported that strange women would come up to him in places like the grocery store and ask him out. My first thought was "man, that guy is paranoid" but then they started interviewing people who backed up his story. They interviewed people who had noticed he was being tailed. They interviewed people who had been getting strange phone calls asking them for information about Nader. Was he fucking anyone? Was he a pot smoker? etc.

It turned out that it was GM who was doing all of this in an effort to discredit the Nader. They even admitted that they sent the sexy women to try to seduce him so he could be found in a compromising position! Now that is a company with too much power, imho. It was too bad for them that Nader is such a nerd because they never were able to find any dirt on him. It pretty much took an act of congress to get GM to lay off!

It got me thinking about large corporations and the power they wield. I worry that our current SCOTUS is giving too much power to corporations by essentially making some of the labor laws and antitrust laws meaningless. I worry that a lot of people have an attitude that corporations should be allowed to amass huge amounts of power.

I am not really sure what I can do about it other than to talk about it and to remind people that who they vote for in the presidential election can really make a difference with this. The damage in this area done by the Bush administration and their appointees to the court might last for decades. Who knows how much more powerful large corporations might become in the mean time?

I also think that besides voting, it is very important to support consumer activists who work hard getting the word out about corporate misdoings. The corporations have a lot of power but they *need* the rest of us as labor, as consumers, and as stockholders.

So let's all just think about all of this a little bit. What kind of world do we want? One where we are powerless and subject to the whims of the CEO class or one where we have regulated capitalism designed to keep any one firm from growing too large?

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Universal Health Care

There are many reasons why universal health care would be a good idea. I am going to talk about just one of them: The lack of universal health care gives too much power to large corporations when it comes to employee/employer relationships.

Under our current system, people can get health insurance or coverage only in certain ways. They can be a veteran which allows them to access the VA health care system. They can be old enough for medicare or poor enough for medicaid. Or, they can get their health insurance from their employer. Most people get their health insurance from their employer.

Because of the nature of insurance and spreading risk over groups, larger employers can provide better health care benefits than smaller employers who in turn can provide better benefits than what an individual could buy with the same amount of money. In other words, large corporations have a big edge over small businesses and the self employed.

The lack of universal health care can stifle entrepreneurship. People can find themselves chained to employment at Big Company or at the very least they are less likely to try to go it alone since even if they are successful enough at starting a business that they can eventually get some employees, they *still* cant provide health insurance at the same low cost that large employers do. In the labor market, workers look at total compensation packages. They add up wages +benefits and come up with some idea of the total compensation. They dont care that company A can provide health care at half the cost of small business B. So small businesses lose out and fewer people become self employed which over a long period of time can mean that larger segments of the work force end up working for large corporations.

Having an employer provide health care benefits also gives them an incentive to discriminate. A pure profit driven incentive too. Which means, that companies who discriminate and thus are able to lower the rates of illness in their group will be more successful than companies who dont. (And trust me, a result of at least one SCOTUS decision, large companies will probably be able to get away with discriminating even if there are laws prohibiting it). For example, companies might do what they can do in order to reduce the age of their workforce. They might decide not to hire fat people. They might decide not to hire people who smoke even if they dont smoke at work. They might decide that people of certain races are more risky health wise and they might avoid hiring them. They might be wary of hiring the disabled. And so on. I am sure there are many ways that employers can unfairly discriminate against groups of people with a goal of reducing health care costs.

Universal health care does two things that take power away from large corporations in the labor market.

#1 - universal health care is likely to result in an increase in the number of non-corporate jobs out there. It will increase the self employed which in turn is likely to increase small businesses. That would mean a smaller percentage of the jobs would be in large corporations. Would people still work for large corporations? You betcha! It just would mean more options available.

#2 - universal health care would reduce a very real economic incentive for employers to discriminate against groups of people in our society. It will also provide them one less excuse for prying into employee's personal lives.

Saturday, June 30, 2007


I spent the day out in the rowboat with a friend and with my dog, Brooke. My sister lives on the same lake that my parents do. When we got over near my sister's place, I started to hear what sounded like a dog in serious distress. It turned out that mysister's dog, Buddy, had seen Brooke in the boat and just went crazy. We rowed over there with Buddy screaming the whole time. When we got close enough he jumped in and swam out to us. It was hilarious.

Friday, June 29, 2007

School's OUT forever!

I know I have not updated the old blog much recently. My apologies.

I have been busy but I should have some extra free time for at least the next couple of weeks. You see. I am done with school. And I don't just mean that the semester is over. I mean I am DONE with school. FOREVER. Or at least I think I am. It wont be official until someone actually reviews my application for graduation and then gives me a diploma. But by my careful calculations and by running the EMU online graduation audit 8 million times, I am pretty confident that I wont be taking any more classes.

After I was done with that last final exam though, I will admit that I went home and sat around waiting for that college degree to change my life. But alas my life is still pretty much the same as it was earlier in the week. I guess you need the actual diploma to arrive in the mail before getting the life changing advantages of having a degree, right?

Friday, June 22, 2007


Proshat tagged me for a meme. I have been neglecting my blog lately and this seems like a good way to get back into it. so here it goes...

1. Last movie you saw in a theater?

Wow, I have been so busy lately that I haven’t been socializing much. Shame on me. The last movie I saw in the theater was Borat.

2. What book are you reading?

I am between books at the moment. I just finished one called With All Our Strength which is about RAWA: The Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan.

3. Favorite board game?

Settlers of Catan

4.Favorite magazine?

5. Favorite smell?


6. Favorite food?


7. Favorite sound?

The sound of a sailboat halyard slapping against a mast.

8. Worst feeling in the world?

Betrayal and Loss.

9. What is the first thing you think of when you wake up?

That depends on the day but usually I think, "oh man, I don’t feel like going to work"

10. Favorite fast food place?

Kluck’s Drive In

11. Future child’s name?

I am not going to have kids. But if I were going to, I would name my child(ren) after my grandparents. If I were to have a boy, his name would be Perry Michael and if it were a girl, her name would be Justine Elizabeth. Interestingly, in the past, whenever I have had this discussion, people (usually men) say that they don’t think it fair that I would pick both the first and middle names. My reply has always been that he has a choice. He can pick the last name OR the first and middle names. What is funny is how many have gotten upset about that because they just figure that the kids should automatically get the father’s last name and then should get a say in the other names too. Because you know, otherwise I am not being FAIR to the men. *rolls eyes*

12. Finish this statement. If I had a lot of money:

I would quit my job and travel...

13. Do you drive fast?

In the mornings I drive fast because I am usually a little bit late.

14. Do you sleep with a stuffed animal?

Not in the last 30 years or so I am afraid.

15. Storms cool or scary?

VERY cool. I love storms. And ok, sometimes they can be scary especially when tornados are sighted and the sky turns green. But even when they are scary enough to drive me into my basement, they are still cool

16. What was your first car?

The first car that was MINE was my 1996 VW Jetta. I am still driving that. Now granted, I had other cars which officially belonged to my parents but which I drove. I guess the first car I drove regularly was a 1979 Ford Fairmont station wagon.

17. Favorite drink?


18. Finish this statement, "If I had the time I would...":

Spend more time hanging out at the lake.

19. Do you eat the stems on broccoli?

Of course. They are the best part!

20. If you could dye your hair any color, what would be your choice?

I like my hair color but if I had to pick a different one, I would probably dye it blond.

21. Name all the different cities/ towns you have lived in?

Detroit, Michigan
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Sault Ste Marie, Michigan
Ypsilanti, Michigan

22. Half empty or half full?

The Glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

23. Favorite sports to watch?

American College Football. I especially like it when MSU beats UofM which is a rare enough occurrence that it is extra special. I also enjoy watching figure skating, gymnastics, swimming, diving, horse racing, and occasionally baseball.

25. Morning person, or night owl?

I am a night person for sure.

26. Over easy, or sunny side-up?

Over easy. But actually I am more scrambled than anything else.

27. Favorite place to relax?

My extra large arm chair in my living room.

28. Favorite pie?

Cherry. Although I had a very excellent slice of blueberry pie this weekend from the Grand Traverse Pie Company that was sooooo good it might be my new favorite pie. It was made with Michigan blueberries too.

Thursday, June 21, 2007


So I took the day off of work on Tuesday so I could go to a doctor's appointment and run some errands. I encountered a big traffic jam on my way there which was really surprising because my doctor's office is so close. There was a water main break right at Michigan Ave and Grove St. Which made me worry about the water I had before leaving. It must have been OK because here it is two day later and I still walk the Earth. I felt very sick yesterday though but suspect that was the result of my tetanus shot.

I have decided to go to Nova Scotia. I like it there and even though I love Michigan summers so much that I want to avoid missing any time here, Nova Scotia is a nice place to be too. I'll still get to go swimming every day.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Nova Scotia *and* France?

Yesterday was kind of an anti-Monday. I won a prize at work: a Sony portable DVD player. And when I got home from work, I noticed that my very kind neighbor had mowed my lawn! I am pretty sure it wasn’t the city because whoever mowed my lawn ignored the much longer grass of the lawn on the other side of me and also mowed my neighbor’s lawn.

I was planning a really cool trip this summer but had to cancel it due to cost. About the time I was canceling that trip, a friend presented me with two great opportunities for vacations.

1. Go with her to her family's cottage in Nova Scotia. I have been there before and it is really nice. She is talking about driving there which made me think that maybe it was a sign that I won that DVD Player because it comes with a car adapter and I think that such a thing might be useful with kids in the car.

2. Visit her in France where she and her family are going to be renting a large apartment from October to March. It's in a small town near Switzerland and is about 90 minutes away from Paris by high speed rail.

Naturally I want to do both! And I can if I go to France in February. I think this would be ok especially if I bought a rail pass for France which would allow me to do a short weekend type trip to Paris. I think it is cheaper to go in the winter too. Certainly there are fewer tourists. I wonder if it is really cold there in the winter though. You see if I go to France in February, I wont be able to go to Florida in February which was what I was kind of planning to do.

But you know, I can go to Florida anytime, right?

You know, I have too many places I want to go and not enough time and money. I guess that is everyone’s problem!

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

A Visit

My friends Terry and Jen came over on Saturday. I was worried because I had to tell them that I couldn’t go on vacation with them this summer. Last fall the three of us discussed going on a vacation together but it was an expensive sort of vacation (around $5k a person) and I was only able to save up about half of the amount which just isn’t enough. But it turned out that I worried for nothing because they aren’t going either and for pretty much the same reason. We’ll have to go to China and ride the choo-choo to Moscow another time.

We had a good day visiting though. There was a good storm in the afternoon and a lot of rain got dumped. The rail road tracks by my house got totally flooded. The water was so high that we weren’t sure we should cross so we had to take the long way to Kluck’s for their yummy hamburgers. Luckily the water had gone down enough for us to cross the rail road tracks by the time we were done getting our food. I wanted to take a walk down to Riverside Park to see if it flooded but I never got around to it.

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Work: When Less is More

I have been saying for years that Americans simply work too much. And by work too much, I mean that Americans are "at work" for too long not that we get too much done. You see, every person has a limit and at some point in the day, almost everyone gets a little burned out. I know that in the latter part of the day, I have no ability to focus on much at all.

So I found This Article in The NYT rather interesting.

The thing is, *everyone* I know wastes time at work. People might be clocked in for 8 hours a day but no one does 8 hours of work or rather no one does 8 times the work they do in a really productive hour. Some people work slower the rest of the time. Some people take lots of "mini-breaks" where they surf the net or just stare off into space when management takes measures to stop the web surfing. Some people chit chat with their co-workers. There are a million different ways to goof off at work.

The managers where I work have done everything they can to limit goofing off. They break up conversations so no one can chit chat. They have designed the work space so that everyone's monitors are in view so they can just walk up and down the aisles to make sure no one surfing. They monitor people as closely as they can.

But it doesnt work. One of the things I observe with great interest is all the many ways people hide their goofing off. They have mirrors in their cubes so they can see if a manager is coming. They also have ears which allow them to hear the managers walking towards them. They chit-chat only with co-workers who work near them so both talkers can remain seated since the primary way management knows they are talking is when they see them standing up. Generally people put great energy into hiding their goofing off. Some people I know who work in other jobs make it a point to go to work early and to stay late just so the boss will think they are hard workers. When I ask them if they think they get more done by doing that, they almost always say that they dont get more work done or they only get a little bit more done. The extra time is purely for appearances.

But what if people didnt have to do that? What if people really were judged on the amount of work they do rather than how busy they appear to be while at work. What would happen if people focused just half of all that energy into work? Would they be more productive? I think that most people would be. And most people would find themselves a bit less stressed out and that goes double for people with families. Sometimes I think about the impact such a change in the working culture would mean to people who raise children or care for elderly relatives, I get all angry that we dont have a movement blooming where workers demand it.

But then, I think that a lot of people, managers and workers alike, simply cannot believe that most people will do the same amount of work in six hours a day as they do in eight. When I go off on this particular rant (which is one of my favorites, as anyone who hangs out with me face to face can tell you.), I am always amazed at how many people just can't believe it is true. Or they believe that it is because people are lazy and if they could just come up with some better method to make sure people goof off less, they could squeeze more work out of people.

Oh well, maybe someday

Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse, Betelgeuse!!!

I used to go winter camping a lot and I'll freely admit that there are certain things about winter camping that I dont like. For instance, sleeping in the cold or rather *trying* to sleep but not being able to because it is TOO COLD does not rate high on my list of things I like about winter camping. But there are things that I like about it and oddly, two unrelated things have reminded me of very positive things about my winter camping days.

One of them is my Astronomy class of all things. You see, Orion has always been my favorite constilation and it is so easy to see in the winter sky that one of the activities of any winter camping trip for me was to just sit there and look at it. So, we've been talking about Orion in my class lately because it happens to be a really active part of space with lots of nebulas and cool stars and such. Everytime we talk about Orion, I always kind of remember sitting outside in the dead of winter gazing up at it and the very peaceful feeling I would always get then.

In a completely unrelated coincidence, one of my main winter camping buddies, Terry, is in town for a visit. He and his wife, Jen, are coming over this weekend. I'm all excited about that because they are awesome and they have been doing a lot of traveling so I know they'll have good stories.

And just to draw another crazy link in this mix, I will mention that one of my memories of Terry involves him dancing around singing Harry Belefonte's Day-o which was on the soundtrack of Beetle Juice which, or course, sounds just like Betelgeuse which is, of course, a star in Orion.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

A Post in Which I Blame The Sun For Not Blogging

Man. This past week has been pretty nice. There has been lots of sunshine so I have been doing stuff outside. I have even already been swimming up at the lake! Yesterday was the BEST because there were no boats on the lake and I just swam all the way down the shore and then back. The water wasnt too cold although it wasnt warm either. Not bad though for a pre-memorial day swim.

The other main reason I havent been blogging is that I have been going to school full time for this short spring semester. It is intense and it has been keeping me busy. One of my classes is an online class which is nice because I have a wireless internet connection so I can sit outside and do my homework.

My other class is an Astronomy class. This class is essentially my last class at EMU. It is one of those science classes I put off because they sounded lame and hard and just not something that would be interesting. I thought I would hate it. But what do you know? I dont hate it and rather, really enjoy it! I kind of wish I had taken this class earlier because now I want to take a Physics class since the physics part of Astronomy seems the most interesting part. And of course I want to take more Astronomy classes too.

I got to look at the Sun through a telescope earlier this week in our class. That was really cool. I didnt take a picture of it myself but I found this one from about 11 years ago on the NASA web page. This is pretty much how the sun looked to me since we were using a similar filter (obviously, it is a bad idea to look at the sun through a telescope without a filter). This picture was also taken during a period of low activity on the sun. Sun activity goes in cycles of about 11 years so this picture was taken during the last low activity period. So it was very neat even though it wasnt very active. I can only imagine what it must look like when it is in an active phase!

So there you go. Instead of blogging, I have either been out playing in the sun or out learning about the sun.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Still a Loser!

I am bummed because I didnt get that job with the non-profit I applied for recently. I cant remember if I mentioned it here or not. But about six weeks ago, I applied for a pretty cool job with a private foundation. I did get four interviews into the process though so I must have been seriously considered. That is something I guess.

Anyways, I always have a hard time dealing with rejection and to be honest, that has me more bummed out than not getting the job. Oh well. There will be many many other jobs I can apply for and I imagine that I'll get turned down for most of them which will give me lots of opportunities to work on whatever issues with rejection I might have. And the HR person was nice enough to tell me the reason they picked someone over me and it certainly was a valid reason. They picked someone who already has been working for that particular non-profit so they are more familiar with it. I will just remember that old cliche that successful people tend to fail a lot because successful people takes risks and try. Yup. I am going to keep trying. I am going to be that kind of loser guy who always has dates because he asks *everyone* out ;)

It is funny too how the whole "sour grapes" thing can kick in so powerfully. I mean, my thought pattern right now is that I really didnt want that job anyways. I am really feeling that too even though I know it is a lie and that I really *did* want the job. But you know, it wouldnt have given me the experience needed to advance in the direction I think I might want to go and I am pretty sure that if they hired me at close to my current salary, I would have been at the upper end of the pay range for the job which isnt exactly the best position to be in if one wants things like raises. And so on.

In the mean time, another person has quit my small team of six. Someone else was fired recently too so we are down two. That means, of course, that I will spend the next several months working my butt off just to keep my head above water. Even if they hire replacements soon, it will take a while to get them up to speed. And ok, I'll admit that a big reason I wanted that other job was so that I wouldnt have to deal with the mess that is coming now that we are so short staffed.