Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Last Year

Last year, on this day, I sat in a fancy hotel bar in San Francisco with some friends talking about Katrina and it's impending arrival in New Orleans.

Vacation - All I Ever Wanted

Whew. I haven’t had much time to blog lately and that is going to continue to be the case for the next couple of weeks.

My friends Terry and Jen have been in town from Hawaii and it has been really nice seeing them because they are awesome. The good news for them and for me is that they have sold their place in Hawaii and are moving back to the mainland. While they aren’t moving back to Michigan and will most likely move to Florida, it will still be much easier to visit them in Florida than it is to visit them in Hawaii. Plus they’ll be able to get back home to Michigan more often so net result is that I will see them more than the couple of times I have seen them in the past five years that they have been in Hawaii.

Also, they are planning a great trip for next summer and I have decided that I am going to do whatever it takes to go on the trip with them. I will eat ramen noodles and will continue to reduce my spending so I can afford it. They are going to fly to Beijing and spend a couple of days there, perhaps with a side trip to The Great Wall. Then, they are going to take the train to Moscow on the Trans-Siberian Railway. Hoooo. Now is that a trip for someone like me who loves taking the train or WHAT? I figure that I will never be able to find someone else who would take that trip with me so unless I want to do it by myself, I’ll have to go when they go. Taking this trip means that I’ll be driving my beat up VW forever but what the heck. Would I rather be a person in a brand spanking new VW or a person with a beat up old one who once went on a great adventure?

Speaking of vacations. I am getting ready for my next little adventure which also will include a small train trip. Yes, I sure love riding the choo-choo. I am going to Seattle to visit friends and then I am taking the train from Seattle to San Francisco where I will see more friends. Finally, I will fly home to Michigan just in time for the best part of autumn. Life could be worse for me I suppose.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

You Can Never Go Home Again

They say you can never go home again. But today I came across a real estate listing for the house I lived in from the time I was six or seven until I was seventeen. Ok, my mom stumbled across it and emailed it to me which kind of makes me wonder if she has the same habit of pouring over internet real estate listings and virtual tours that I have. I mean, I used to never understand how some married men could be into internet porn until I became addicted to internet real estate listings. I can look at them for HOURS. And I have a house. I even love my house. It is a nice house but I always like looking at other houses. Go figure.

But I digress. So this house, in Detroit, is pretty much the place that holds most of my childhood memories. I think I was six when we moved there but I might have been seven. My first memory of the house was after my parents bought it but before we moved in. Our old house was only a few blocks away. I walked home from school regularly with my friend Anna. My parents had shown me house and I sort of knew where it was so I figured that Anna and I could take a detour on the way home from school. But darn it if I couldnt find the sucker that day. I dragged poor Anna all over the neighborhood looking for it and eventually ended up one block over saying to Anna "I swear, it was here before. Honest!"

When we first moved in, I had to share a bedroom with my sister. But my folks decided that it would be better if we each had our own bedrooms since we were getting older. My Dad spent a lot of time finishing the attic into what became a seriously fabulous bedroom for a teenager. It had a bathroom and it was it's own floor so my music had to be pretty loud before it bothered anyone (that seemed to happen a lot anyways though). I wont mention though the hideous color *cough* lime green *cough* that they decorated with but it WAS the 70's so I suppose they can be forgiven. That bedroom was bigger than some apartments I have lived in. One of the really neat things about it was that my Dad built in a secret compartment and I made a little time capsule of stuff and put it in there. There is a part of me that would love to go see if that stuff was ever discovered but maybe it is just something best kept in my memory.

I had my second kiss in that house. I had my first real date come pick me up from that house. I learned Latin and Algebra while living in that house. I danced in that house. I plugged up the basement toilet by dumping the cat box in it. I set the garage on fire. I slid down the staircase in nylon sleeping bags. I ran indoors. I put on puppet shows. I covered the walls of that bedroom with posters of rock stars. I laughed a lot. I cried some.

My dad once commented that I would probably never live in as nice of a house again because they just didnt make them like that anymore. And while I love my current house (built in the same era, btw) and wouldnt even know what to do with 3000 sq feet as a single woman, I have to say that so far, my dad has been right. I have never lived in as good of a house as that one.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Walking the Line

I have been thinking about personal responsibility today and how much we control things in our lives. There are the two extremes, of course, either taking responsibility for EVERYTHING or taking responsibility for NOTHING. I don’t think either one is particularly healthy and that the best course lies somewhere in the middle. The trick is, however, to know where.

Sometimes it is tempting to take responsibility for every aspect of my life. It is a place of great power and control. I can choose to let my feelings get hurt or not. I can choose to change aspects of my life that bother me, or not. Even though I don’t particularly like my job these days, knowing that I am there because I choose to be there is helpful. I can do a lot of things to take care of myself and knowing that is power. Real power. Not power over other people because ultimately they don’t matter, but power over myself. I can choose how I view the world.

But sometimes it is possible to take control in the wrong way. It is easy to hear a report on the news of a women getting raped all the while thinking, “That cant happen to me because I don’t walk around alone at night” I mean, victim blaming is all about trying to believe one has control over everything. I might struggle to control the uncontrollable.

The other extreme, of course, is when I take responsibility for nothing and I sometimes find myself at that end of things. It is nice in a way because once one really believes that things are inevitable, the struggle against those things ends. Life becomes a river just flowing along with me just bobbing along in the current. Rapids? No trouble...just bob on through. It works for a while at least until I get stuck on something. Then it is just powerlessness. Boo Hoo, I hate my job but I need the money. Boo Hoo, I feel lonely and it isnt my fault for not calling anyone. Boo Hoo I bounced a check and had to pay a fee at the bank. Boo Hoo, I hate George Bush being in the White House. Boo Hoo my dog pulls on her leash. Boo Hoo The world doesnt like fat people. Boo Hoo Boo Hoo BOO MOTHER FUCKING HOO. (Well you get the idea)

The thing is, of course, there actually are things that I have no control over. But, probably, most things I can either control totally or at least influence. I cant help it if a tornado hits my house but I can listen for the siren and haul booty to the basement. I cant help it that the world doesnt like fat people but I can choose not to let that hold me back. I cant help it that the bank charges outrageous fees but I can balance my checkbook (although I know darn well that I wont but I could and that is what counts).

So I know that balance is possible but I never seem to get it right. Oh well, one thing I have been learning is that I get better at such things as I get older. At the rate I am going, I expect to be perfect by the time I am 102. :)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Family Fun

Whew. I have been pretty busy lately. This pretty much always happens to me in August. The closer it gets to Labor Day, the more I feel that I have to rush to get in every last little bit of summer. I love Fall and all but I know that once the cold weather hits, there wont be any truly warm days again for a good eight or nine months.

Anyhoo, this last weekend was busier than usual. My brother and his wife and his wife’s family were all staying up at the lake so there were lots of festivities up there.

This is my brother, Jonathan, making mojitos for everyone. Deadly mojitos. We didn’t have any club soda so he had to substitute something for the club soda. He chose to just add more rum in place of the club soda. Oh well, at least no one had to drive home!

This is my sister-in-law Katrina and her sisters, Marin and Mita. They are getting all the fresh mint and limes ready for the mojitos.

Here is everyone hanging out on the dock. The guy waving is Laleet (I *think* that is how you spell his name). He is my brother’s wife’s sister’s husband. Or my sister-in-law’s brother-in-law. I guess our culture doesn’t have a name for his relationship to me.

I know a dog who always likes to go for a boat ride even if it is a boat ride on the beach ;)

Friday, August 18, 2006

The Dymaxion House

My favorite exhibit at the Henry Ford Museum was the Dymaxion House. It was designed by R. Buckminster Fuller who also is the inventory of the Geodesic Dome. I actually went on the tour TWO times and didn’t take a single photograph of the place because both times I was too engrossed with the house that I forgot to take any pictures.

Initially, I thought the house looked kind of ugly and it certainly has a little more 1950’s B-movie Sci Fi Thriller atmosphere than I would like. Even so, it is obviously considered to be at least somewhat artistic. The photo above is from a model of the house that can be found at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC. The round shape gives the rooms an odd feel since the house is divided so that each room is the shape of a piece of pie. Obviously too, the “flow” of the house is circular which is still something that might take a lot of getting used to if one were to actually try to live in one of these things. Anyhow, before I began the tour of the house, I was expecting this to be some kind of glorified Lustron Home or somesuch.

Not so. This house is pure genius. I was seriously amazed and a little dismayed that this house never went into production. I think that if this house had gone into production they might be available today for around the same price as a similarly sized mobile home ($40k-$50k). As it happens, this house is a mobile home too in that it was designed so that the owner could pack it up and move it if they wanted to. The guide at the museum said that it took a 10 man crew 2 days to set up the house. But unlike mobile homes, this house is designed to handle tornados and in fact, one of the prototypes survived a tornado that came within a few yards of it in the 1960;s. The Dymaxion house is apparently designed to withstand winds of up to 150mph which means that unlike the mobile homes down at the trailer park, this house would still be standing in a category 4 hurricane!

Tornados and hurricanes aren’t the only natural disasters that this house is likely to stand up to either. Because of its design of basically an umbrella attached to a central mast that is put into a round but narrow foundation, the house could be erected several feet off the ground which would be a plus in flood prone areas. Its design also would make it more likely to survive an earthquake but I’ll admit that I don’t understand physics enough to be able to tell you why and I pretty much heard the guide say “This house can withstand earthquakes because of… blah blah blah… Ginger… blah blah blah”

There are other bits of genius in the design of course. The house has an air circulation system designed to keep the house cool in the summer without air conditioning using a big fan at the top that uses wind power and possibly to pull air from openings at the bottom of the house up to the top and outside. The round shape minimizes heat loss in the winter so heating bills can be lowered. The rain gutters were designed to collect rain water for use in the house too. All in all, it seemed like an especially green eco house. I had a feeling that with a few solar panels for electricity, one could probably build one of these and live totally off the grid. I don’t know about that for sure but that was the feeling I got anyhow.

So. If any of you guys already live in the Detroit area or plan on visiting, I would HIGHLY recommend a visit to the Henry Ford Museum just to see this amazing house. There are of course all sorts of other goodies at the museum but seriously, this was the best part, imho.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

The Henry Ford Museum

I spent the day with my mom and my nephews at The Henry Ford Museum. Since we only had time to do one thing there today, we let the boys choose which thing and decided they wanted to see the stuff inside the museum. After they chose, I told them that they had made a good choice since there are a couple of especially morbid exibits there that I always love to see. One is the actual chair that Abraham Lincon was shot and killed in and the other is the limo that JFK was riding in when he was shot in Dallas. The kids gave me a "who *is* this creepy women?" look when I told them that though ;)

We had a fun day even though I never did get to point out either the chair or the limo to the boys. Here are some photos:

I am a big train fan so I love the history of trains exhibit. I stopped the boys long enough to get them to pose in front of one of the trains for me.

Here I am sitting next to my new best friend. People kept calling her a dummy though but I thought she was a very good listener.

This is my mom in front of a vintage McDonalds sign. I love old neon signs so I enjoy that part of the museum.

They had a neat hands on exhibit that included this old car. The boys seemed to enjoy playing around in it.

This was from an exibit about Generation X. Anyone else remember playing with this toy?

They had a kind of neat activity where they encouraged kids to submit ideas for inventions for the future. Here are the ones the boys came up with. I liked both ideas but decided that if I could only choose one, it would be the android2000 since Emil assured me that it would both change the catbox and mow the lawn and that it would do it without complaining and well...toast is great and all but...well, I think everyone here knows my opinion of lawn mowing. Still the slicing toaster looked pretty cool and I kind of imagined it making a light saber sort of noise as it sliced and toasted. That would be sooooo COOL!

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Asking For It

Last night, someone broke into my car and stole $5 and some change. I didnt report it to the police because I was too embarassed to call them up to tell them that someone stole $5 that I had left in plain sight from my unlocked car. Doh!

Monday, August 14, 2006

Michigan Terrorized

"The best thing that could happen to the U.P. would be for someone to bomb the bridge". -John Voelker, former Michigan Supreme Court Justice and the author of Anatomy of a Murder and Yooper resident

I have been a bit disturbed about news reports I have come across this morning that report that some men have been arrested on suspicion of bombing the Mackinac Bridge. But I am less concerned that someone might try to blow up the bridge than I am that law enforcement might be arresting people too quickly.

I am sure that blowing up the Mackinac Bridge would be spectacular and all but it wouldn’t really cause any significant economic disruption or at least not enough to make it a worth while target for terrorists. It wouldn’t be anything close to the disruption that would happen if the Ambassador Bridge were blown up for instance. So, this story just seems wrong from the get-go. I mean ok, there are some Yoopers around who probably would like to see the bridge gone (see above quote) and if it were one of them, I could see arresting them but these guys were no Yoopers.

Then, the evidence that these folks might be plotting something nefarious appears to be three-fold but rather flimsy.

  1. They are Arabs. – Ok, I know a lot of people excuse this because the people behind the 9/11 bombings were Arabs but saying that being Arab or of Arab decent is a reason to be suspicious of someone for terrorism is the same as saying that the Oklahoma City bombing is a reason to be suspicious of white people.
  2. They have photographs of the Mackinac Bridge – Yeah because NO ONE *ever* takes photographs of the Mackinac Bridge (**rolls eyes**). The Mackinac Bridge is probably one of the most photogenic bridges in the world. It is beautiful. It is breathtaking. It makes you wonder what the big deal is about little itty bitty bridges that are more famous. I mean come on!
  3. They bought a lot of cell phones. – Now it is true that cell phones are used sometimes to detonate bombs. But cell phones BY THEMSELVES will not blow up any bridges. It seems to me that these guys’ story about buying the phones at a cheap price with the intention of selling them later at a higher price seems kind of plausible to me.

Ok, I think that buying eighty phones is unusual and probably is reason to watch these guys for a while. If I were a judge I might authorize a wire tap or something similar. But arresting these guys is a little bit much. Unless they can find some other evidence, then these guys have committed no crime. It isn’t a crime to have pictures of the Mackinac Bridge. It isn’t a crime to buy 80 cell phones. It isn’t a crime to be an Arab-American. Just like it isn’t a crime to be a white person in a Ryder truck.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Flying the Dehydrating Skies

It looks as if there was a major terrorist plot foiled in Great Briton last night. In response, here in the USA, we have gone from Terror Level Bert to Terror Level Ernie on domestic flights and Terror Level Elmo on international flights.

Naturally, when I heard about this, I wondered: What does this mean for me?

Seriously, it means cotton mouth since I have to fly in a couple of weeks and they are not allowing liquids to be brought onto planes. I always like to have a bottle of water on the plane because they only give you small 4oz glasses of water and that simply isnt enough for me. I just hope that it is just at the security check point that they check for water and that I will be allowed to buy a small bottle in the airport's secure area before I leave.

On the other hand, maybe this will all blow over since nothing bad actually happened. Thank Goodness for that too.

Zoom Cloud

This seemed fun. Hat tip to Sandy

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Ypsilanti Elections Follow Up

Well, the big local election is over. Brian Robb appears to have won the council seat in the third ward which makes me pretty happy because I know he will do a good job. Plus, last night while I was out walking my dogs, I ran into him and his SO, Kate. Kate was especially nice to my dogs which might be the new "kissing babies" political move. Or it might be just that she is nice to dogs. What can I say? People who are nice to dogs and people who live with people who are nice to dogs are alright with me.

Paul Schreiber will be our new mayor. He probably wont help me as much personally as his predecesor has in the past. You see, a few years ago current mayor, Cheryl Farmer, came by my house to campaign. While we were on the porch talking, she asked me if I smelled gas and I didnt. I think I must have become used to the smell or something. Anyhow, I called Michcon and sure enough, there was a gas leak in my house. So you see Cheryl Farmer SAVED MY LIFE. But just to be fair and to give Mr. Schreiber an opportunity, I will be swimming ALONE and DRUNK at NIGHT in Sandy Bottom Lake in South Lyon sometime later this summer.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Ypsilanti Primary Elections – WARD 3 Council Race

I am going to be voting for Brian Robb for City Council

In the ward 3 city council race, there are two very good candidates, Rod Johnson and Brian Robb. Both are very involved in the community. Both are nice enough. Both live close to me so I would imagine that they understand the needs of the neighborhood. Both seem to be intelligent enough to handle the job without doing anything crazy. I like to think that if my lawn were to be inappropriately mowed, I could send either one an email and have them take me seriously at least to my face. I can honestly say that no matter which one of them wins, we will have a good person to represent us on the council (assuming there isn’t a surprise upset during the November elections where an independent or republican wins).

But, in this primary, one can only vote for one person for this seat. I am voting for Brian Robb and let me tell you all why. While both candidates are involved with the neighborhood association, Brian has made me feel like I would be welcome at a neighborhood meeting. While both candidates are involved with city government, Brian is the only one who regularly attends city council meetings and then, on top of that, provides an invaluable community service by posting about such meetings on his blog. He also did that YpsiCrime website which I have to admit I stopped reading after I realized how boring it was. There was hardly any crime at all on my block!

Brian also seems to have a great understanding of a lot of issues facing our city. I don’t know if Rod Johnson does or not because when he came by house, I was in the middle of grooming my dog on my bed (and I KNOW that was a dumb place to brush the dog), and I had practically brushed enough hair for a whole ‘nother dog. I had it all piled up on the edge of my bed all nice and neat. Anyhow, when Rod Johnson knocked at my door, my dog saw it as the perfect opportunity to escape from the brush torture and pretend she had more important things to do like guarding my house from politicians. She jumped up and ran RIGHT THROUGH the pile of dog fur. It went flying all over the room and all over me. I was so annoyed that I swore like a sailor without thinking about who might be at my door. When I finally answered it, I was wearing my "Sunday Clothes" which in my case means I was wearing my oldest rattiest outfit and I was covered with huge clumps of dog hair. Anyhow, I was annoyed at the dog and annoyed at myself for grooming her inside when I could have easily done it outside and I was embarrassed to have been caught off guard so I just took his little brochure and didn’t ask any questions.

I was going to call him up later and ask some questions but then when I really thought about it, even if he gave all the right answers to my concerns for the city, I would still vote for Brian Robb and I didn’t want to waste his time. But I will say that based on his brochure, he would have given all of the answers I would want to hear.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Meadows, Flowers, Grass, Trees, Detroit!!!

In an earlier post, I mentioned how much it bugs me when people move out of the city or suburbs because they want to be in the country and then they tear up all the meadows and put in manicured lawns which make the countryside resemble the suburbs they have recently fled. I really dont get it. But it turns out there is some hope.

I was reminded by a post in DetroitBlog that sometimes the countryside and the unkept places I like so much come back. Odd, but maybe the place to move if one really likes the countryside will be certain areas of Detroit.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

A Moment in Time

I love Michigan in the summertime. I LOVE IT! I spent a long day at the lake today. I spent at least two hours swimming and throwing tennis balls into the lake for the dogs to chase. I am tired.

It is hot now and so muggy that it feels like I am swimming through the air when I walk around. I can smell flowers and grass. In the distance I can see faint sparks of lightning that promise a cool night's sleep and the end to the muggy days of hot sticky weather.

It reminds me of a night a long time ago when I sat on a porch with a good friend on a similar summer evening. I dont remember what we talked about but I am sure it was meaningful and deep or at least as meaningful and deep as conversations between 21 year olds can be. Anyhow, whatever it was about that moment, it has stuck with me and I think of it now everytime I find myself sitting on my porch on a hot sticky night watching lightning in the distance.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Hottest Day of the Year

I talked my boss into letting me take a half day off because I was worried about the dogs. I picked them up and we went off to the lake! It was a bit of a white knuckle drive though because the temperature guage in my car indicated that the engine was running much hotter than normal. But it didnt overheat and we made it there ok and it was fine on the way back. I guess it it was just too hot to run the a/c full blast in the car but I did it anyways because it seemed like it was too hot not to.

The lake was nice. There was a breeze coming off the lake that, while warm, was still cooler than any breeze in Ypsilanti. Sitting in the shade there was almost comfortable. I didnt sit long though because I really wanted to swim. The water was really warm so I tried to dive down where the cool water is. Usually, I have no trouble reaching it but today, I would barely get down there when I would run out of air and have to come to the surface. I finally got out the swim fins so I could get deeper faster. I think the cold water was about eight or nine feet down. It was nice and COLD though. There are springs that feed the lake with cold water and the lake is silty enough that the sun doesnt warm the deeper parts much. Anyhow, I dived down to the cold water several times and each time I would get a wonderful shock and then an "ice cream headache" Woooo!

It was 97F today according to

Tomorrow is supposed to be just as hot but I have the day off work so I guess I'll hope my little car can get me back up to the lake.

Everyone Talks About the Weather

Whew. It is HOT! It is supposed to be 98F today. People like to say that it isnt the heat, it is the humidity. Well, today it is going to be both.