My blog is in a new spot, kind readers. Please find it here.

0 comments 4:17 p.m. - 2008-03-04

Dentistry Library Blog Alert
THE U-M DENTISTRY LIBRARY BLOG has a "humor" archive.

In it, you can discover such gems as the hi-tech "Intellicare" toothbrush (comes with instructional DVD). This product is so complicated it inspired a word-related web site to use the toothbrush as an example of "feature fatigue," a phrase denoting weariness with multi-feature products.

Also, don't miss the handy list of toothbrush-centered movies for your holiday viewing pleasure:

The Toothbrush (1918) A short training film made for the U.S. Army to teach soldiers the proper technique for brushing their teeth. Note: Why was it necessary to make and show this film? Were recruits clueless about how to brush their teeth? I wonder.

The Old Family Toothbrush (1925) Said to be a "comedy." Sounds more like a tragedy.

Don't Forget Your Toothbrush (1994, 1995 and 2000) One user: "Man, this show sucked." I'm seeing a trend here.

The Toothbrush Family (1999) "This show will decay your brain instead of your teeth," says one viewer. "The main characters are a tube of toothpaste, a couple of toothbrushes and a sponge. The sponge is pink and is shaped exactly like a tongue. It's rather disconcerting." I can't imagine why.

The filmmakers, however, say, "The world of the bathroom might seem like a very small world to you and me but to the creatures that live there [it] is a vast macrocosm of relationships, adventures and possibilities."

4 comments 12:33 p.m. - 2007-12-17

Chili Challenge Organizer Seeks Your Feedback
A KIND READER organizing the upcoming January 26 Depot Town Chili Challenge sends some questions to ask your input. I think he'd be grateful for your suggestions to improve an already fun and enjoyable event:

"This year's Chili Challenge will be on Saturday, Jan. 26th, 3-6pm, again for the benefit of SOS. Were you able to attend last year? I have a couple questions that I'd like to ask you and you in turn can ask your readers if you are so inclined...

"1. Last year we included a bunch of coupons and other flyers from local businesses, Eagle Crest, et al. Were those useful, or just a waste of paper? i.e. Should we include them this year?

"2. This year we are gathering celebrity tasters as judges. The people still vote, but we thought it would be fun to include some celebrities, both local and regional. Any suggestions?

"3. Any other suggestions or requests to improve the event?

"Last year we had 14 chilis...This year we hope to offer 20.

"The multiple staging areas idea was good in theory because people could start anywhere. Somehow that left people confused. Freedom can be a tricky thing, I guess. So this year we are going to limit the number of starting areas to 2 or 3."

Thanks to you for any suggestions!

5 comments 8:03 a.m. - 2007-12-13

Apotheke Closing End of December

Ypsidixit is saddened to learn that Apotheke is closing December 31.

They've got 25% and 40% off sales going on right now. I stocked up on a whole bunch of nice bath items as gifts. They're also selling all the store fixtures. If you've ever wanted a merchandise display case for your living room, now's your chance. Or a stone carved turtle. Or a purple velvet robe.

The owner plans to reappear at the summer Shadow Art Fair with her lovely products, so she won't be gone for good. Ypsidixit took advantage of the ongoing sales and hopes kind readers have a chance to, too.


On the lighter side: Enrolled Trilobite Christmas Ornament.

3 comments 7:54 a.m. - 2007-12-12

Pancakes for Arthropods

Ever wonder what trilobites like for breakfast? Here's your answer.

0 comments 12:22 p.m. - 2007-12-10

Stuff Your Stocking Night

DESPITE abysmal weather, with icy sidewalks, enough brave souls made it to SYSN to help create a heaping tub of stuffed stockings for SOS. We had many more donated-type stockings this year than last, as people did not want to risk sliding around on sidewalks while shopping at Depot Town stores. This year's crop of stockings is heavy in cool, fun items from the Rocket and Gordon's (highlights: magical tortoise egg from the Rocket and jingly ring from Gordon's).

Many thanks to all the kind folks who generously participated to help make SYSN another success.

1 comments 8:20 a.m. - 2007-12-10

"I Am Not Just a Misfit" Puppets Restored
"Imagine the looks on our faces when the original puppets from the 1964 Rankin/Bass production of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" showed up on our doorstep!...The puppets were in bad shape, having been used as Christmas decorations/playthings for the last 30-odd years in the home of a former Rankin/Bass employee.

"Santa's legs were both broken, as was Rudolph's neck(!).

"Rudolph's nose bulb was torn out and the cavity had been stuffed with red candle wax." The Restoration.

2 comments 4:54 p.m. - 2007-12-07

Thanks to the Ann Arbor News
"Stuff Your Stocking" story in the Ann Arbor News! Thanks to the News for this perfectly timed story! One tiny error: I don't know why they say "tax-deductible" in there. I don't have the setup for writing receipts for tax deducting. It's just donations. Other than that, Fritz and I are running around today and tonight getting things together for the big day!

Luckily my festive Santa Hat is in fine fettle. Hope to see you Sunday!

1 comments 7:16 a.m. - 2007-12-07

Invitation from Teddy the Trilobite

TEDDY THE TRILOBITE would like to remind you that "Stuff Your Stocking Night" occurs this Sunday in Depot Town, 2-6 p.m. HQ is Cafe Luwak. Hope to see you there.

Meanwhile, over at the Flickr trilobite discussion group--which has a link to a fascinating trilobite article [PDF] by Richard Fortey--they're speculating...

"I wonder what trilobites tasted like?"

"Kolihapeltis was probably too spiny," says ajmiller82. "I'd chow down on a Drotops any day." Bugmaker says, "Maybe they taste like giant isopods," as if that provides a frame of reference (and one wonders if it does for him or her).

There's one isopod you probably wouldn't want to eat, though--Cymothoa. It nibbles away and with its own body replaces the tongues of fish. There was even one case when one was found on a fish's mouth in a supermarket.

Cymothoa is the only case, in all the world, of a parasite replacing a host organ (there's your fun fact for the next first date). Teddy on Flickr.

5 comments 8:42 a.m. - 2007-12-06

O, wallplate!

Amazon Filler Item Finder. Yay! Hmm, my book order needs 33 cents for free shipping, and I don't want to buy a whole nother book...doot dee doo...hey!

It's the Leviton Decora 1 Gang Wallplate, Almond #017-80401-00A! Wow, lookit that wallplate! I'll be the envy of my street.

Hmm, "no customer reviews yet. Be the first." OK. When I first ordered my Leviton Decora 1 Gang Wallplate, Almond #017-80401-00A, I didn't expect that an owner-object relationship would blossom into much more. And it hasn't. It's just a wallplate. It protects the wall from smudges and stains but pretty soon I was thinking, "aren't smudges and stains the transient quotidian memorials to our passage, the spots in which we touch and are touched by the world? What does it mean to seal off that contact with a piece of plastic? To no longer "leave my mark" on the world? To be no more than a sterile ghost drifting "unwept, unhonored, and unsung" through an untouched and untouching life? O, emptiness! Barrenness! The sterility of modern life has hollowed me into a vessel whose only contents are loneliness and the death-fear. And a little rotini with tomato sauce I had for lunch. O, wallplate!

2 comments 12:25 p.m. - 2007-12-05

"Support the Right to Bear Names"
Just in time for the holidays, it's Teddy Bear Mohammed, created by an entrepreneur who apparently was upset by the recent Sudan flap. From the press release: "Mark Bold unapologetically created the first teddy bear officially named Muhammad. Muhammad, Mohammed and other variants, is the most common name in the world and is now second only to Jack as the most popular name for baby boys in Britain, and is likely to rise to No 1 by next year. So why name a teddy bear, Muhammad now?

“Because we can and should” says Mark. “It’s because I want to demonstrate that kids and adults of all ages should have the freedom to have a stuffed toy bear that can be given a common name, such as Muhammad, without fear”, Mark adds, “Of course there is some satire in all of this, but there is a much bigger truth; because of the recent events, the Teddy Bear named Muhammad story teaches us to stand up against intolerance, injustice and bigotry; and this little bear reminds us of this importance.” Stand up by buying this product, presumably--one whisked onto the market, complete with website, in record time.

1 comments 10:28 a.m. - 2007-12-05

Winter Helmet Project
Here's another project for kind readers' inspection: a naalbinding hat. It's so heavy, and so snug and elastic, that it's like a helmet on one's head. I love the deep, rich colors and the extremely homemade look. Let's call it "shabby chic," shall we? Yes indeed. As opposed to "unskilled." I wore it to work this morning and felt invulnerable. It's extremely warm and snuggly and deadens sound too, making one feel insulated from the world. I like it.

I learned a lot by making it:
1. Fabric strip joins are very apparent on a small project, for better or worse (I have to think up a way to use this to my advantage).
2. It's possible to make a hat without a pattern, but do keep eyeballing it and trying it on.
3. A border always makes things look more "finished."
4. Coils attract the eye and look pretty.

The finished hat is so flamboyant and big that I might add a big tassel on top, just to push things over the edge. But for the time being I am very pleased with my new Winter Helmet.

2 comments 7:03 a.m. - 2007-12-05

4.4 MB of Computer Memory in 1956
Yes, this is a computer memory unit, part of the vacuum tube computer (!) known as the IBM 305 RAMAC (Random Access Memory Accounting System). The RAMAC was "an electronic general purpose data processing machine that maintained business records on a real-time basis," whatever that means.

You can see this component in the RAMAC array of units here.

Also there is a complete history of IBM's series of memory-storing devices, through time, ranging back all the way to punch cards.

0 comments 12:24 p.m. - 2007-12-04

Friended by Vikings

Have you ever been friended by a Viking? (Boastfully) I have. On Flickr! OK, not “friended,” exactly, just “contacted,” which is one level beneath “friended.” And presumably two beneath…well, never mind. Anyways, it’s good to have Vikings in my posse, absolutely. Envious? Oh, don’t be. Why, you ask, did this happen? Why, because of my recent craze for naalbinding of course, the ancient Viking craft predating both crochet and knitting! Who knew that Flickr-ing one’s humble attempts at this noble craft—make that Art—would summon Vikings from the mists?

Viking trivia tidbit: Did you know the Vikings liked colorful clothes? They did. That’s the conclusion reached from grave site analysis, anyways. It’s important to maintain a sense of fashion when razing monasteries and destroying the Faith—just ask Christopher Hitchens. Or me. (Airily): Now if you’ll excuse me I’m gonna go hang with some Vikings I know, or, “hike with the Vikes” as we naalbinders say, yessir.

0 comments 8:29 a.m. - 2007-12-04

Stuff Your Stocking Night Dec. 9
Friendly reminder: Stuff Your Stocking Night is this coming Sunday, the 9th, from 2-6 p.m. Last year this was a fun and heartwarming event. I hope to see kind readers there. From our press release in the recent Depot Town newsletter:

"We will be hosting Ypsilanti's second annual Stuff Your Stocking Night. Get a stocking for $2 (seven styles to choose from) and fill it with lovely yet inexpensive items from seven nearby Depot Town stores: Christmas ornaments, old-timey candy, mini-maracas, Ypsi-themed note cards, and organic treats--all under $5! You will leave with a finished, gift-wrapped stocking.. We will gift-wrap your choices for free! There is free parking too, in the adjacent Farmers Market lot, and plenty of Depot Town cafes and bars for refreshments. Buy local."

0 comments 7:23 a.m. - 2007-12-04



Of the Less Erroneous Pictures of Whales and the True Pictures

The SUV that was towed out of the Evergreen Point Apartments POND, by ever-patient firefighters on Saturday, was a Mercury....wait for it...Mariner.

That poor driver. Call him Ishmael. Poor Ishmael, perhaps after an illicit hit or two of ambergris, thought the name of his lumbering vehicle meant that he could drive into the water! Like an amphicar! Perhaps in pursuit of an ancient nemesis!

Ypsidixit was about to suggest jailing people for pure-D stupidity, but quickly thought better of that (i don't think they allow you to naalbind in jail. That big flat needle, in the right hands, could be DEADLY.)

0 comments 1:35 p.m. - 2007-12-03

Fluffy Viking Slippers
HERE'S an amateur's attempt at the ancient Viking craft of naalbinding--a 3,000 year old craft older by far than both knitting and crochet. After learning how to do simple naalbinding and making the requisite Trial Trivet, I ambitiously strove to make some naalbinding slippers for Fritz.

You start by crocheting a short chain--with my new, blue, size Q (!) crochet hook and coiling it up to serve as a base for the initial naalbinding stitches. I did not have a pattern, but just eyeballed when to increase and decrease the growing coil of stitches, which grew from a coin to a cup to a nest and then a flagon. I improvised a heel and heel back and voila.

In the second picture you can see Fritz modeling his "fluffy Viking slippers," as he humorously called him. The wee toe-tassel looks a bit silly; I might sew that under or otherwise conceal it. That is the slipknot where I started the crochet-chain.

This project was a huge kick to do. I loved the deep rich colors of purple, blue, emerald, sage, khaki, and grey, cut from old recycled cotton shirts. Even better, I now have a Craft HQ in the front room, that I arranged this weekend, with a big table, a 1970s lamp, and a rack of milk crates that neatly hold a big array of cut-up strips ready for future projects, one of which I'll doubtless start this evening--perhaps some matching Vikingette slippers. Close-ups viewable here at Flickr, for fellow naalbinding fans. If any.

4 comments 7:58 a.m. - 2007-12-03

Two Upcoming Local Concerts
TWO kind readers, each musicians, send their news about upcoming concerts which I am delighted to put here:

December 8th, 2007, The Elbow Room, Ypsilanti, MI, 10pm $5:

Canada (ann arbor): The Mighty Narwale (Grand Rapids)
BLACK JAKE AND THE CARNIES (Ypsi's own Crabgrass septet)
Austin Lucas and the Pressmen (all the way from Praha, CZ)


Ypsilanti Community Band and Ypsilanti Community Choir to hold annual holiday concert on Thursday, December 6.

On Thursday, December 6, the Ypsilanti Community Band and the Ypsilanti Community Choir continue an annual tradition with a joint concert of holiday music at Washtenaw Community College's Towsley Auditorium. The choir, conducted by Ariel Toews-Ricotta, will sing selections including Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" and Leroy Anderson's "Sleigh Ride", while the band, conducted by Dr. Jerry Robbins, will play "Russian Christmas Music" by Alfred Reed, Elliot Del Borgo's "Glory of Christmas," and a medley of holiday tunes. The band and choir will conclude the concert by joining forces for the famous "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's "Messiah." The concert is free and open to the public, and will be at Washtenaw Community College's Towsley Auditorium at 7:30pm.

1 comments 4:34 p.m. - 2007-11-30

My Remedy for Religious Ridiculousness
THE WAR ON CHRISTMAS rages ever stronger as Mount Pleasant bans the word "Christmas" from its Christmas festival, a move I suspect would not be popular in Ypsilanti. It wouldn't even be popular with me, and I'm as far from being a Christian as you can possibly get! Aside from my liking of the Catholic saints, but never mind that. I think the parochial PC dweebs in such intellectual backwaters as school administration offices need to 1. go home, 2. sit down, 3. pour themselves a beer and 4. learn the 3,000-year-old Scandinavian fiber craft called naalbinding. And ingeniously upcycle themselves a spankin'-new naalbinding needle out of a crusty old spatula! That's what I did last night, and I was so phenomenally geeked I stayed up late out of pure fascination! And made a trivet! The Egyptians did this craft, too, as well as Native peoples in this country.

If you're busily working on fascinating things you love, there really isn't time for such utter foolishness as removing "Christmas" from the name of a Christmas festival or pushily insisting on putting up/tearing down Nativities all over the place. Don't I sound self-righteous? Of course--but I'm right, as well. That's my prescription for silly people--go learn a craft, already! Make yourself useful!

10 comments 9:47 a.m. - 2007-11-30

AATA Culture
getDowntown's Nancy Shore writes on her excellent getDowntown blog:

A DTE Energy Employee who has ridden the bus in various places for about 30 years tells me about the friends she’s made on the Packard #5 bus, They call themselves the “Route 5 Ladies” and they always chat with each other when they get on the bus. In fact, when one of them is sick or doesn’t take the bus for awhile, the others will call and check on that person. The Route 5 Ladies even have a favorite bus driver, who they say is going to drive them around the country when they all retire.

That's a heartwarming sto--waitaminute, when does the Route 5 driver get to retire? Is he going to be wrestling some specially decommissioned #5 AATA bus through a blizzard in Snoqualmie Pass when he's 95 years old? While the Route 5 Ladies recline on custom Roman-style chaise lounges, with little tassels, in the back, puffing on hookahs and sipping sherry? And getting on his case when their bridge cards slide to the floor as he wrests the bus around a crumbling hairpin turn over a yawning crevasse? In a tornado?

I think a lot of it depends on what you want to get out of the bus ride. Absolutely. Do we all just want to stand there ignoring each other, or do we want to reach out?

Since we want both things, often on the same day, what we need is zoning. All you ignorers, take your cell phones and iPods over there to the left side of the bus. Reacher-outers, you'll find that every other row of seats over here has been switched 180 degrees, with a wee card table installed inbetween--with cupholders and a printed-on chess-checkerboard. Plant your traveling mug in there and start reaching out. Or help the kids color. Or rest your book comfortably.

What would also be kinda neat is a short coffeehouse-style counter along the window, with permanent stools. What I'd especially like is a little rack behind the driver where you can donate magazines you've finished reading, and borrow another one for the ride, perhaps one you've never heard of. Which is a sort of reaching out, as well.

1 comments 8:45 a.m. - 2007-11-29

The 10 Worst Christmas Gifts of 2007

Here are 10 gifts to avoid like the plague or, possibly, seek out, depending on the intended recipient. Brought to you by:

Embarrassing products are the specialty at ShopInPrivate.com. You see, ShopInPrivate.com is the world's most private store. They sell items that are uncomfortable to buy in person. Customers shop in private because it is discreet, easy and convenient. ShopInPrivate.com is a great place to buy strange items. Unfortunately, some of these items should not be given as Christmas gifts.


8. Yes! Pheromone Cologne: Giving your unwed brother pheromone cologne tells him that you think he stinks and need help with the ladies.

7. Rogaine: "You know, I noticed at Thanksgiving dinner that you were losing your hair..."

2. The LiceMeister Lice Comb: Some people like to receive the best-of-the-best as a gift. Shoes, clothes, watches, and cars, they buy only the best. Here is the world's best lice comb. It will remove lice and eggs from any hair and it will remove the joy from any holiday gathering.

Remainder of the deeelightful list here.

3 comments 7:57 a.m. - 2007-11-28

Ypsilanti Etsy Shops

YPSILANTI ON THE HANDMADE CRAFTS SITE ETSY: Ypsi and Ypsi-area artists offering quite stunningly beautiful items for your Christmas gift consideration include:

Sparklepants Industries with just lovely stationery, cards, and paper products

Suchprettycolors with patchwork, jewelry, cards, and magnets

Amepix with handmade buttons and stickers with such slogans as "friend of urban chickens" and "eats her veggies" (also available at the Ypsi Food Co-op)

K. Perkins with exquisite lampwork glass bead jewelry

Equilibria with assorted bead jewelry

Little Habanero with vintage and bead jewelry

Keystone Studios with jewelry incorporating ceramic components

B. Jurrjens with handmade metal jewelry

Chickalookate with photography, cards, and magnets

Whew. So much industry and talent! I especially love Sparklepants Industries's subtle and poised paper designs, and Ms. Perkins's lampwork beads. Given the ease of shopping from these artists I'm guessing a good portion of presents for my mom and sis will be purchased here (easily, via Paypal). All handmade! All lovely.

2 comments 8:08 a.m. - 2007-11-27

Terrycloth Rug
KIND READERS who waited breathlessly for an update on my latest rug can breathe a sigh of relief--here she is. It got a bit bogged down, there, over Thanksgiving, but this rug made of 4 recycled towels is finally finished.

This rug was fun to make. The braid is ropy and thick, and it took a lot of cord to lace it together. The end result is extremely cushiony and soft. It is sitting right outside the shower as a replacement for the scrumbled-up towel that used to lie there. It is a dainty alighting-mat for those daintily exiting their shower.

I started out with a very rigid color scheme, starting a new pattern every time I hit the bottom of the oval and sewing as I went. Near the end I threw in some random colors, along the outside edge, because I think mixing it up a bit is very pleasing to the eye. My favorite part is the bits of gold embroidery on white fabric that peep through from the red velour towel, which was a Christmas-themed towel with a gold-appliqued white fabric tree on it. You can see two glinty bits near the edge. A lot of WAAM talk radio went into this rug, as I faithfully sewed it around and around and around...it was fun. All 3 rugs to date may be viewed on their very own Flickr page.

2 comments 7:37 a.m. - 2007-11-27

Buy Nothing Christmas?

A BUY NOTHING CHRISTMAS? Is it possible? Did you avoid Black Friday like the plague? Do you wilt a bit at the thought of what Reverend Billy calls the "shopocalypse"? Is it possible to celebrate a green Christmas without resorting to "sad crafts"? You know--bleak, eco-friendly crafts--anything involving scissors plus an egg carton. Or popsicle sticks.

Hmm. Well, here's one appealingly kooky craft--DIY snow globes. Heh. Here's one couple that put on craft workshops in October to teach community members to make their own gifts. And what about blank Shrinky Dinks (yes, they still make 'em!) Actually, Y. would adore receiving some Shrinky Dinks for Christmas. Hey, you can even DIY Shrinky Dinks! I can't imagine anything more healthful than creating melted-plastic vapors in the comfort of one's own kitchen. And if you have a big pile of powdered glass, a drill press, and some freshly calcined magnesite lying around, you can even make your own plastic!

Back to gifts, now--nothing says "I Love Visiting You Maw-Maw" like a gingham-trimmed jar of homemade insect repellant. Another creative idea involving pests is mouse taxidermy, though at this point I think we might be leaving the bounds of normal crafts.

OK, then, here's a workable compromise bridging the extremes of manic consumption and mouse taxidermy: the Buy Handmade Pledge. That works for me.

4 comments 12:34 p.m. - 2007-11-26

LED Holiday Lighting

LOOKING FORWARD to untangling your balky old set of Xmas lights? Trying to figure out which one of the 200 on the string is not working, thus shorting out all the other ones? Burning your fingers on the hot bulbs? Bah. How about LED lights? They burn at room temperature, making them much safer than incandescent bulbs. They are 80-90% cheaper to run: 10 strings of regular lights, on for 8 hours a day, are said to cost an incredible $175, if you can believe that. LEDs? A measly $1. Add to this they last 20 years or longer, supposedly. They are not without their detractors, however.

There are also LED menorahs available for Hanukkah, ranging from pricey and futuristic to affordable and elegant. You can also make your own!--though some object to the idea of an electric menorah.

2 comments 9:01 a.m. - 2007-11-26

Quinn's "Farewell Sale" Banners

A LITTLE BIRD says that despite the "Farewell Sale" banners on Quinn's Essentials in Depot Town, the store is luckily not closing but only changing hands. Y. was relieved to learn this since some of my nicest Xmas presents ome from Quinn's, especially jewelry. The word is that the proprietor is merely retiring, but that the store will continue on as usual. Thank goodness.

5 comments 8:06 a.m. - 2007-11-26

Paintings of Josh Keyes

"My intention is to create work that asks questions about the implications of urban sprawl and its impact on the environment. I am interested in creating psychological narratives set in closed systems that express the behavior of and the interaction between humans and animals. The dystopian model creates a dynamic playing field where I can experiment with these ideas and forms."

0 comments 1:14 p.m. - 2007-11-21

Augustus Woodward Returns to Detroit, Gets Lost

A charming animated film featuring Judge Augustus Woodward returning to Detroit, a city he redesigned in 1805 after a fire, and trying to navigate downtown Detroit using an 1807 map. Made by U-M film student Gary Schwartz.

1 comments 10:34 a.m. - 2007-11-21

It's Mind-Bageling

TELL ME IF YOU AGREE with your humble scribe: if one cannot find a "satisfactory" bagel in an Entire Metropolitan Area (Boston), then....the problem does not lie in the bagel, no?

This picky Chowhound bagel-seeker should eschew those fancy-pants places he mentions and bring his exquisite discernment of bageltry to bagel-rich Ypsilanti.

1 comments 1:11 p.m. - 2007-11-20

New Rug Update For Those Breathlessly Waiting for Same

IN RESPONSE to clamorous kind reader requests (not really) for updates on my exciting new career of recycled-fabric-rug-crafter, I will let slip that a dramatic new terrycloth rug is currently encoiling, like a slow reverse whirlpool, on the dining room table (now the craft table; small spaces are occasionally made among small tabletop dunes of cut fabric scraps for food dishes). Made from 4 old towels (burgundy, pine green, royal purple, and a beige towel with flecks of burgundy, pine green, and purple), this rug is all about control. It's braided very tightly, and the color scheme is much more controlled than with my previous 2 rugs. It's also sewn very firmly. This is all in order to make a tough, resilient rug. Intended as a pleasantly soft, furry alighting-mat, this washable creation is destined for a home beside the shower, and a picture of it will be posted hopefully tomorrow, if I finish it tonight.

2 comments 9:27 a.m. - 2007-11-20

Holiday Events' Ebb and Flow
A LITTLE BIRD SAYS that this year's New Year Jubilee will be slashed to a tiny fraction of its usual size, due to the devastating effect of last year's rain. Hopefully it can rebound this year. Schedule in "comments." On the other hand, Depot Town's holiday schedule of events expands yet more this year. Not only is there the 2nd Annual Stuff Your Stocking Night on December 9, there's a blowout "Santa Red Carpet Event" and a fun gingerbread-man-decorating day at Gordon's. Schedule also in "comments."

2 comments 8:14 a.m. - 2007-11-20


3 comments 1:34 p.m. - 2007-11-19

Simulation Game Could Model Ypsi Budget Cut Suggestions

"WORLD WITHOUT OIL" is a contributor-created simulation game (rules here and kinds of submissions here) that almost 2,000 people played for 32 "weeks", (1 day equaled one "week"), contributing their blogposts, images, podcasts, and videos to a website that became a riveting, realistic chronicle of the imagined oil shortage. It is a stunningly creative way to model a response to a potential shortage. The creators said they wanted to avoid a "Katrina" type response--they wanted to pro-actively see what would happen in a crisis.

Ypsidixit finds this absolutely brilliant. Can we take this idea and adapt it to the city budget crisis? For example, consider the solvency plan. Is it a good solvency plan? We don't know, since we haven't lived through the consequences--but we could, in a realistic simulation game!

Here's what I propose. Let's create the "Budget Crisis" simulation game. Let's take 6 weeks starting Jan. 1, 2008. Let's say we'll take 2 weeks to "live through" 1 year of the 3-year solvency plan. Let's make a simple website, like the "world without oil" one, where people can add blogposts, images, whatever. Let's play the game. Let's see how the cutbacks "affect us" as we create scenarios in response to the suggested cutbacks.

I'm not suggesting criticizing the solvency plan. That is not the point. The point is to model the effects, to learn what happens. Some effects might be good. Others might be not so good. Some might be completely unexpected. But it would be a great tool to help us model--not just guess--how these cutbacks would affect the city. That is my suggestion, and now I'm dyin' to play "Budget Crisis." Anyone care to join me?

7 comments 9:25 a.m. - 2007-11-16

Rag Rug #2

YPSIDIXIT WILL BEG your patience as she shows you her latest rug, completed last night. This is a 3 and 1/2 by 2 and 1/2-foot braided rag rug made from five recycled old shirts, all of 100% cotton.

Because I again, as a total novice, made mistakes, I learned some things. For example, I had shirts of different fabric weights, yet I cut them all into 2-inch strips. When I braided the strips, the lighter-weight fabric made skinnier strips. In the future I will cut lighter-weight fabric a bit thicker than the heavier weight fabric.

I also learned that it is important, and tricky, to keep a moderate, even tension on the braid while lacing the rug together. Pull too much and the rug will "cup" up into a bowl. Too little and it'll show the laces. I made this rug a shade too tight in spots, and need more practice keeping that even tension.

I also see, clearly, that a border really finishes the work and makes it look done. I saved most of my blue to make the final border, and I think it looks nice. I also learned that, amid the wild mix of colors, some lengths of solid color stripes (here, burgundy) are very pleasing to the eye.

What I love about this rug is the chaotic swirl of mixed colors, which I find more exciting and interesting than a bunch of concentric rings. I love gazing at different areas on the rug and seeing how the colors in that section are interacting. You can almost eat these lovely bright colors with a spoon.

My next project is making a terry cloth bathroom squooshy-rug from some old towels. I picked out some really sweet colors in a whole different palette, and hope to get that at least started before Thanksgiving. Thanks for looking at my rug.

1 comments 8:03 a.m. - 2007-11-16

Proposal: City Finances Public Charrette

"WE'RE SHOCKED," bleats the Ann Arbor News, "when the anti-tax group stated that it wasn't their job to come up with an alternative," going on to patronizingly suggest, without much imagination or grounding in reality, that residents from across Washtenaw County should all pitch in and pay a charity visit to Ypsi to eat at a restaurant and spend money. Ypsidixit is already rolling out the red carpet (from Value World, natch) for the imminent influx of curious thrill-seekers from moneyed Dexter, Chelsea, and Manchester. Or maybe just rolling my eyes.

Aside from the quaint unreality of the News' suggestion, they misapprehend the question, as so many others did. The question was not "how do we fund Ypsilanti?" The question was "should Ypsi impose an income tax?" The anti tax folks were correct in saying it was not their job to come up with a detailed financial plan. It was their job to present their answer to the question, "should Ypsi impose an income tax?" Suggestion: Make sure you understand the actual question that was on the table before writing an editorial containing the word "shocked." OK? With that bilious advice out of her system, Ypsidixit would like to propose her own, slightly more realistic solution:

I propose that the city have a public City Finances Charrette, for both practical and strategic reasons:

Practical: Would you rather have a problem fine-combed by 25,000 brains, or just a handful? Let the City distribute its complete budget online, not just the solvency plan, and let residents look it over. Yes, of course this would be cumbersome and a headache for the City, just as a waste of $20,000 for a clearly doomed special election was an affront to the those who funded it. But get a conversation going. Get people talking, and analyzing. I think some good ideas, from people of good will on both sides of the tax, would come bubbling up.

Strategic: Residents have recently demonstrated that, unlike other cities' residents who approved a tax, they do not have confidence in city government. Giving residents a voice in the process may help mollify residents and bridge this rift, which ultimately benefits city government and its future aims.

Strategic: There has been much weepy hand-wringing over how the tax has "emotionally hurt" and divided the community--as if politics were not a blood sport. Anyways, Ypsidixit too wants to see people putting aside a now-dead tax question and working together, as at this charrette, to pool ideas for the future. Without being overtly "let's all hug," a project drawing on all community members working together would help to start reknitting the frayed fabric of a cherished community.

Personal: The last charrette was very fun, and so interesting to see all of the ideas. It really made one's brain sparkle. Let's all pitch in and do the same with a City Finances Charrette. That is Ypsidixit's suggestion.

13 comments 7:54 a.m. - 2007-11-15

Corduroy Rug Debuts in Area Home; Creator Modestly Disavows Talent, For Obvious Reasons

THE DEAFENING SILENCE that greeted my previous post about making a rug from old pants was, actually, I realize, kind readers' barely repressed eagerness and curiosity about this riveting project...no doubt. Well, it's done! I finished sewing it, and tucked in and sewed the ends.

I then reverentially saluted our hardy pioneer forefathers who invented this craft of braided rugs--the oldest and most venerable of American folk crafts. Yes sir, with this humble rug I've joined the long line of American rugmakers, a line of proud, self-reliant..um, makers of rugs, like, silhouetted against the sky and all. Bearing their rugs, proudly wrought from pants from Value World (which was Value Forest Clearing back then, young'uns).

As braided rugs brightened many a rough-hewn pioneer cabin in Washtenaw County, so too does this tiny corduroy rug (2 & 1/2 feet diameter) sparkle up the space in front of the couch. It is delightfully squooshy and soft--I made it from bulky, velvety corduroy in the hopes that it would be. I learned so many rug-lessons from this rug, and I can see at least 6 glaring mistakes in the picture--can you spot them?

Ypsidixit had a high old time practicing standing meditatively on her new rug. It was very entertaining, for the easily entertained.

And I've already started a new rug! This one, inspired by the warm colors of embers in an ol' pioneer wood stove, is in six jewel-like colors ranging from sunflower to cobalt. Yessiree, I already have about 6 feet of braid, and will attempt to use everything I learned in this rug project in my new rug. It's exciting and fun, and sustainable--the new rug is made from 6 old worn out shirts.

Can you tell how many old pairs of pants went into this corduroy rug?

The project also yielded three braided-bone dog toys made from scraps, to the great interest of WIllie and Clover. They played a low-key tug-o-war with one last night, as I watched, planted on my rug-station, almost evoking (pardon the comparison) a modern-day St. Simeon Stylites (lovely essay about this Peculiar Person here). Except on a pillar only one inch high...made of corduroy from old pants.

40 comments 7:21 a.m. - 2007-11-14
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