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.