The Creative Economy in Washtenaw County
Washtenaw County is looking to its arts and culture community for economic development. The apparent idea in the ongoing, currently very broadly-defined "Community & Culture" economic plan is that arts makers and providers are scattered and low-profile, and C&C seeks to unify them and make them more visible with such ideas as a cultural-tourism "arts weekend," comprising working in an artist's studio, touring local galleries, and staying at a local B&B.

The C&C plan seems like a savvy way to draw upon existing local arts resources to promote economic development, in lieu of plans that involve actual new construction or facilities. This idea is catching on elsewhere, too.

"[T]hat ”if you build it they will come” model doesn't cut it anymore,” said Richard Florida, the keynote speaker at yesterday’s first National Conference on the Creative Economy in Fairfax County. “We are living through a remarkable though sometimes painful and dramatic societal transformation,” Florida told an audience of 360 people at the Hilton McLean at Tysons Corner.

"While manufacturing continues to head overseas where labor is cheaper, the “only advantage we have left is brain power, intelligence and creativity,” said Florida, playing off one of the themes in his book, “The Rise of the Creative Class.”

"Some business leaders dispute Florida’s claims. They point out that some of the less glamorous regions of the country, such as Las Vegas and Oklahoma City, are adding jobs and population while “creative centers” such as San Francisco and Boston have become too expensive for many middle-class families.

"The two-day conference which continues through today is being sponsored by the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority. It has drawn city government representatives from as far away as Canada and Texas. They came to learn how to prepare for the transition from an industrial to a creative society in which researchers and entrepreneurs are the stimulus for growth." The rest of this article.

The C&C notion of "leveraging" existing county arts resources seems smart and resourceful. How would this idea manifest in reality, in Ypsi? One small-scale sample I imagine is a bicycle tour from downtown to Baron Glassworks near LeForge for a Hands-On Studio Afternoon. Another small-scale sample that comes to mind is "Cascade O' Crafts," with three or more stops around town with a craft project at each one, resulting in several take-home giftable items.

Perhaps "Make Local" will become a slogan akin to "Buy Local." Y. is curious to see where the C&C plan will lead.

1 comments 8:14 a.m. - 2007-11-13

Two-Purr-One Special at Humane Society
YES, that's right. The Humane Society, off Dixboro Road, is floating in cats. They're up to their eyeballs in puddies, and hence they're running a Double Cat Specialthroughout November! For only $35, you can scoop up 2 adorable kitties (a mere $17.50 per cat!, or, only $1.75 a pound!) What does the HVHS director say about this?

“We are overflowing with cats of all ages, sizes and colors,” said Tanya Hilgendorf, Executive Director. More info about the special and a list (with photos) of all the puddies available for adoption!

1 comments 12:01 p.m. - 2007-11-12

Parks Charrette a Hoot

Barely suppressed hilarity dominated our parks charrette table, circled by a local elected official, a City planner and another city worker, a Courier reporter, a waggish local teacher, a Java expert, and a maker of floor coverings from used pants. The table was one of 8 among the 25 attendees at tonight's Parks Charrette meeting at the Senior Center. Each table held a 3 by 5 foot architectural survey of the 2 parks, laid over with a giant piece of tracing paper to draw ideas on.

Our tracing paper had lots of underlined words, twice-circled things, and exclamation points. "How about a funicular on the sledding hill?" asked the elected official. "[The slogan could be] 'Have You Ridden the Ypsi Funicular'?" "Ooooh!" "What's a funicular?" asked another. "A ski lift." I wrote "RIVER TOO SHALLOW FOR BOATING" in all caps in the river. "We have to preserve the sledding hill," murmured one citizen, who hesitated to write on the tracing paper. Egged on, he finally lightly wrote 'sledding hill' in a tiny font on the sledding hill, with a ball point pen. "Use a Sharpie!" someone bellowed. Three people thrust Sharpies towards him. Emboldened, he seized the brightest one (turquoise) and firmly drew a big circle around his faint inscription. He smiled shyly at the rest of us as someone clapped him on the back. A local reporter surveyed the proceedings with Sphinxlike equanimity.

Ideas abounded. "How about trout fishin'?" "Aw, there's no trout in that river." "There is a lot of bass, though," gravely said a local boater, who seemed about to launch into a detailed exposition on the river's piscene kingdom but was cut short by another's indignant, "Where's the swimmin' hole?"

Earlier we'd puzzled over an exquisite sepia 1905 copy of the fabled Olmstead plan. "What's this building? And this thing? There's no key." "They didn't invent map keys until the 1920s," declared one member. "It was like, 'Granpaw, whaddaya think about addin' a key to this hyear map o' yours?' 'Fine idea, m'boy, that's a big improvement...'" We absorbed this tidbit of cartographical history with interest.

The 1998 parks plan was also on display, showing a restored Frog Island millrace canal replacing the east side of the (effaced) track, as well as, adjacent to the amphitheater, a frog pond/ice rink (frogs are apparently better skaters than Ypsidixit thought). "The soccer field is gone," said someone with bemusement. "They want recreation, and that soccer field has people on it nearly every day-and it costs almost nothing to maintain-and they want to rip it out and spend how much for fitness stuff?!"

We pointed to features on the plan, debated details, expressed opinions, drew arrows on the tracing paper. But the underlying mood seemed to tilt towards protest.

Here is the text of the charrette's "Ideas List for Park Enhancement" handout:

Potential New Park Features:
County Border to Border Trail Route
Bike Rental Facility
Kayak/Canoe Landing and Rental Facility
New Multipurpose Pavilion
Rest Rooms
Ice Skating Rink
Fitness Circuit
Formal Sledding Hill and/or Toboggan Run
Unique Playscape Area with Opportunity for Improvised Play and Visual Linkage to Parks Natural Character
Contemplative Space with Sculptural Landforms
Public Art Installations
Multi-Use Festival/Event OPen Space at Riverside
Remove Unused Parking Lot and Drive at North End of Riverside to Expand Useable Park Space
Natural Areas with Educational Signage
Riparian Buffer Strip with Native Vegetation Along River
Formal River Overlooks with Seating
Extend Existing Boardwalk at Riverside Park
Pedestrian and Bike Bridge from Riverside Park to Emmanual Lutheran Church
Possivble Alternate Bridge Location to Fischer Honda
Enhanced Park Image at Corner of Huron and Cross
Multi-Use Court (volleyball, tennis)
Enhanced Spectator Areas with Permanent Seating at Socer Field
Expanded Spectator Area & Landscaping at Frog Island Amphitheater
Covered Band Shell with Vehicle Access
Relocate Recycle Drop-Off Station to Expand Parking and/or Park Space
Pedestrian Link from Depot Town to Forest Ave (along Rice St. or through Parking Lot).

16 comments 9:01 p.m. - 2007-11-08

Michigan Charities, Best to Worst

Lots of people make charitable donations during the holiday season, but how to spend one's charity dollar both locally & wisely? Well, if you consider the state more or less local, here's a list of the best and worst of 125 Michigan charities listed on the excellent Charity Navigator. The state's best: Ann Arbor's Food Gatherers. The worst: Detroit's Charity Motors.

6 comments 12:56 p.m. - 2007-11-08

Makin' a Rug from Value World Corduroys

THE WOOD FLOORS in the house are getting a tad chilly in the early morning. I was thinking about using some old shirts to make a rug, but I only had a couple of old ones, and no old sheets or linens. Then I had an all-too-rare brainstorn: why not use some 50 cent T-shirts from Value World? But once we got there the other night, I wandered over to the men's corduroy pants. I love the texture and velvety glow of cords. Could I make a rug from 4 pairs of pants? Who knows? Now I was getting really interested. I picked out a beautiful dark green pair, a sage green one with a very wide wale, a mustard one, and a chocolate one. I bought 'em ($12) and took them home.

OK, I'd read all about braided rugs, so I started by cutting off the waistband, cutting through the crotch next to the seam, and turning each separate leg inside out. I cut out the 2 seams in each leg. Each pair of pants gave me 4 pieces of pant-leg shaped cloth. Using a ruler, I cut each of the pieces into 3 inch strips almost a yard long.

Now came the fun part. After sewing the initial 3 pieces into the recommended "T" shape, I clamped it with a big C-clamp to my bookcase and started braiding, turning under the edges as I braided. I alternated colors and did some solid color stretches, too. Wow, this was turning out even prettier than I'd thought, and the fat braid was so soft, lustrous, and cushy. It took 2 nights to braid about 20 feet of lovely braid.

Last night I coiled it up on a blanket on the floor to see how it would look once finished. Wow. Just spectacular. Four big-sized pairs of pants yielded a 2-foot-wide round rug. I need to sew it together, which I"ll do Friday night.

I learned a lot from this simple little project. 1. How to sew together strips: you have to put strips together in an L shape, sew diagonally, and then cut off the excess. This results in a 45-degree seam which is not bulky, unlike sewing it straight across. 2. How to braid while turning under edges, to hide the "wrong" side. 3. 4 pairs of pants, one size 50 (!) makes just a small rug!--that surprised me. 4. A giant black metal binder clip is useful for clamping on the end of a finished section of braid while you sew on 3 new pieces. 5. Nothing is final: I think I'll go back to VW and get one or 2 more pairs of pants to make one more batch of strips so as to make a border that will make the rug a bit bigger.

It was really, really fun, and it started me off on Googling up all sorts of braided, woven, and crocheted rugs to gaze at in admiration. Y. is looking forward to sewing up her Inaugural Rug and starting a new one from some recycled, repurposed clothes from VW. I think I've got my winter hobby, here.

1 comments 12:04 p.m. - 2007-11-08

2007 Flu Shot Contains Thimerosol
MINDFUL PARENTS cautious about thimerosol in their children's vaccines may be surprised, as Y. was, to learn that this year's flu shot contains...thimerosol. I was exasperated to read this. After so much agony from parents convinced that this additive caused autism in their children--parents who know better than any health official about their children's health--why is it still there?

Did you know only around 36%-40% of all health care workers get the flu shot? Hmm, you'd think they'd all jump at the chance since 1. it's so hyped and 2. they likely get it for free. If someone in the field is eschewing a specific treatment, well, that pretty much convinces me it ain't that great. Y. is no nurse (though I play one on shortwave radio) but it's been post-childhood decades since I've had the slightest shot at all, thank goodness. No thank you!

2 comments 8:45 a.m. - 2007-11-07


Y. IS GRATEFUL to the kind folks who put a passel o' paint on Freecycle a few days ago. Fritz scooted over and swooped it up--5 big cans of my favorite color of all, dark green. Weirdly, we'd just been talking a few days prior about (Plan A) painting the exterior of the house pure white (currently pigeon grey) and (Plan B) painting the woodwork green, to make it a cute li'l cottage in appearance.

Plan B swung into action. I sanded down all the old woodwork and picked out all the old, corroded caulk. It took quite a bit of sanding and picking, picking and sanding. I recaulked the 50,000 surfaces of the muntined windows. I decided to paint the aluminum awnings, too, which, it turns out, were home to a colony of lichen. Sand sand sand.

Finally it was ready to paint, so I poured some green paint into the paintpan and hooked it on the ladder. It looked so much nicer once I covered the old, faded and lichen-spotted surfaces with smooth, rich green paint, so pretty. The green is more like GREEN! or perhaps GREEN!!! and that's OK with me. Once it is complemented by the white around it, it will look neat and trim. It was fun painting, which I enjoy doing (a job requiring little skill that has a big visual impact is right up my alley). Fritz can be seen here working on building a new porch--these are industrious days. Thank goodness for Ypsi Freecyclers!

2 comments 8:09 a.m. - 2007-11-07

Linus programmer Hans Reiser is finally on trial in Oakland. Story and comments.

1 comments 8:12 a.m. - 2007-11-06

Your Lexicographical Dreams Come True!

Kind readers, have you long harbored secret dreams of growing up to be a lexicographer some sunny day? Did you read "Caught in the Web of Words" and "The Professor and the Madman" with the reverence one usually brings to holy books? OF COURSE YOU HAVE. Guess what. Your dream has come true, your ship has come in , your, um, whatever. Merriam Webster has an "Open Dictionary" online where not lofty Chomskyites but the Common Man is actually building the language by suggesting new words!

Some have a Twainian spice to them, like "conflusterated,"which means just what it sounds like. How about a word to describe the degree to which you are speckled with moles? And "she's grudgemental" is certainly useful and skirts the awkward "she is holding a grudge against me." ALl this and more, kind readers, a veritable playground of neologisms! You an even add your own! Enjoy! Do share, please, if you find any good 'uns.

1 comments 7:12 a.m. - 2007-11-06

Tiny Tidbit of Bus Gossip

Y. has heard, "via via via" as they say, about an incident illustrating the exalted status of the lovely new hybrids. Seems there was an AATA supervisor out and about in a car who happened to witness an AATA driver allegedly scrooching through a red light. Boom!--that driver's hybrid was yanked the next day, and he or she was relegated to driving one of the regular old diesel buses. Is this true? Are the (clean, quiet, sleek, wonderful) hybrids being used to reward good drivers? I certainly find them rewarding as a rider, and always hope to get one on my wanderings. Viva la hybrid.

0 comments 6:52 a.m. - 2007-11-06

992 Millibars in U.P.

WHOA. The nation's barometric nadir is centered right on the Mackinac Bridge. 992 millibars?! That's a common reading in the eyes of hurricanes. What on earth is going on here? What does it mean? Meanwhile, scientists argue whether it's high pressure or low pressure that cause migraines and joint pain...or fishin' luck. View the current pressure map.

2 comments 2:31 p.m. - 2007-11-05

Bike Myths or Facts?

Myth or Fact: Bikes belong on the sidewalk.
Myth or Fact: You use your right arm to make a right turn.
Myth or Fact: You can sue a government entity that doesn’t repair a bike path.
Myth or Fact: At a red light, you should move up to the right side of the first stopped car.
Myth or Fact: In some cases, one should ride against traffic.
Myth or Fact: Some people do not understand the difference between the bicycle as tool and the bicycle as enricher of days.
Myth or Fact: The Rubber Pants Clan are a bunch of vain twits.

Answers to (some of) your Bike Myths or Facts may be found on GetDowntown kingpin Nancy Shore's GetDowntown blog, which also offers a great bike ride map for AA and the whole county--my own favorite ride south of town on Dennison Rd is on there!

Feel free to add your own "Bike Myth or Fact," whether happy, snappy, or snarky (or hokey, or snoopy, or smoky) in "comments."

13 comments 1:02 p.m. - 2007-11-05

Solar Talks Wednesday

DAVE STRENSKI will give an update on the City Hall solar panels, and show pictures about the 5th solar panel on the food coop Wednesday, Nov. 7 at the Normal Park Neighborhood Asociation meeting, to which, I believe, all are welcome. At the Senior Center.

0 comments 12:56 p.m. - 2007-11-05

When The Gales of November Come at 3 p.m.
ACCU-WEATHER just sent out an alert that drivers of "high profile" vehicles might get blown into flinders this afternoon by 45-MPH winds. That's nothing to laugh at, kind readers, not that I think you would. Just look on the Beaufort scale! It's between "Gale" and "Severe Gale"! "Light structure damage"! "Cars veer from road"! Not hybrid buses heading yp Ypsi at 5:18 p.m., I hope. Details inside.

9 comments 12:05 p.m. - 2007-11-05

Invitation to Parks Charrette
A KIND READER sent in this email about a parks charrette:

"You are invited to attend a design charrette to be held at the Senior Center, Thursday November 8 to discuss ideas and concepts for Riverside and Frog Island Parks. The event will be hosted by the Depot Town Community Development Corporation and the City of Ypsilanti. Chris Mueller of Mueller Landworks, LLC (314 W. Cross) will moderate the discussions. There will be two sessions: 3:00 - 5:30 and 6:00 - 8:30.

"Now is the time to voice your opinions on what should (or shouldn't) be in the parks. The final design and master plan will be submitted to the DTCDC for incorporation in their grant process. This is a great opportunity to find out more about the DTCDC and have a part to play in the master plan for these two parks."

Here is the flier for the charrette. And a map to the senior center.

I'll be bringing my idea. It's centered on the idea that a good improvement to the parks would be greater programming, in lieu of a greater number of new structures.

My plan has two parts. Part one is transforming the "Interiors" Depot Town store next to Riverside Park (currently for rent) into a Park Activities Center stocked with all sorts of outdoor toys people can check out library-style. The details are here (scroll down to "Fun = Fitness"). Park 2 of my plan involves a Calendar of Events, administered by the same person running the Parks Activity Center, which may be seen here.

1 comments 7:19 p.m. - 2007-11-04

Suggested Public Safety Program in the Event of a Defeated Income Tax

SAFETY seems to be the prime concern of Ypsilantians in the event of cutbacks resulting from an income tax proposal defeat. My suggestion is to seek safety solutions based on tapping and reinforcing the 16 existing neighborhood associations in Ypsilanti. My suggestion is based on a "bottom up" approach, using citizen resources and talent, rather than a "top down" approach, using city funding to establish new programs. I suggest a three pronged approach. Prong one is establishing a website for each NA (most don't have one). Prong 2 is establishing a group email for each NA. Prong 3 is establishing a Neighborhood Watch program for all the NAs (most don't have one).

The neighborhood associations are:
College Heights East
Depot Town Association
Heritage Park
Historic Southside
Historic Eastside
Miles Area
Normal Park
Prospect Gardens
Prospect Park
Woods Road
Worden Gardens

CoPAC currently serves as a liason between the neighborhood associations and the police department. Can CoPAC be enlisted to encourage each NA to develop a website (if they don't have one), a group email to send out in case of emergency (quicker and less prone to a "break in the line" than a phone tree) and a Community Watch program (if the NA doesn't have one)? I've seen Community Watch signs in the College Heights area and in, I believe, the Midtown district. If each NA develops these programs, a quick and comprehensive response to crime would be available.

That's Ypsidixit's suggestion. If Mayor Schreiber views this plan as a helpful compensation to cutbacks due to a voted-down income tax, I volunteer to be the point person to contact the NAs and CoPAC and work to implement the 3 prongs for each NA by spring of 2008. It would take some hustle on my part, but I think that's a reasonable deadline for what I view as a good step towards increased public safety in Ypsilanti.

23 comments 8:46 p.m. - 2007-11-03

Police Chili DInner A Success
PUB 13 was pretty well filled tonight with people enjoying meat and vegetarian chili from a table set up in the center. Lots of uniformed and plainclothed police were there with their families, funding their own fundraiser. But there were other folks too, including 2 city council members, the proprietors of a nearby restaurant, a reporter from a localish newspaper, and Ypsi deputy police chief Matt Hershberger, who stopped by our table to exchange pleasantries and politely urge us to eat more.

The chili was very good, and a heaping vat of shredded cheese and one of sour cream stood by. After learning that a percentage of beer sales would also benefit the police, we faced up to doing our civic duty. An officer went up on stage to announce that about 70 people had attended tonight, and that the funds raised roughly equaled those from last month's Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser, about $1,500 I believe. Not bad.

The monies will help pay for the police department's Citizen Police Academy, a class which starts in January. You can learn forensics, learn how to examine and assess a crime scene, practice with firearms, and even ride along in a cop car. Graduates can join the YPD Volunteer Service Corps, an organization that helps the police maximize their resources by helping staff festivals and parades and doing foot patrols in pairs in the Midtown business district. Sounds to me like a very worthwhile program, especially in a time of tight budgets.

3 comments 8:42 p.m. - 2007-11-02

U-M English Faculty Sublimates Into Pure, Unwavering Bands Of Light

Startling news today from U-M. "Particularly blinding in radiance, the violet-and-crimson phantasma calling itself Ralph Williams opined its lost humanity in a moving lecture on the floor of the Natural Science Auditorium."

0 comments 2:21 p.m. - 2007-11-02

Discover Your Color Personality
DID YOU KNOW that a Pennsylvania paint company can reveal the deepest secrets of your soul? Of course it can. Just try the Color Sense Game. Ypsidixit's results:

You Are: White Spaces. You long for a calm, clean simplicity in life. [True enough. --Ed.] The pure, creamy, refined, or tinted whites of the White Spaces Harmony Collection will envelop you and create a luminous space.

Hm. This is oddly prescient. I just painted the interior of the kitchen and living-dining room in semi-gloss white, creating the charming effect of living inside a refrigerator. No, it actually looks nice...nice and...shiny...well, it's clean, at any rate, and a good choice for a tiny home. None of this multiple wall color foofahraw for me--no self-respecting pioneer forefather would twiddle with that.

Kind readers, are you wondering what my secondary harmony family is?

Your secondary harmony family: Desert Spice (TM) ["TM"? I think Dino Di Laurentiis beat 'em to it, eh? -Ed.] If you are in search of warmth and friendship, look to the muted or radiant orange harmonies that emanate from the Desert Spice Harmony Collection.

Y. will immediately do so, and is eager to learn the color personality of kind readers.

9 comments 12:38 p.m. - 2007-11-02

Friday Brain Teaser Time

YPSIDIXIT is happy to report to kind readers that I have met my garden goal this fall, which is: to eat food harvested from the garden in November. Yes. I have kale, a few collards, and carrots still in there, and the kale and collards were good braised together in a bit of tamari. Yum.

While out there with the scissors, I also wanted to give the garden one last watering from my pond. The garden requires precisely 4 gallons. I have a 3-gallon bucket, and a 5-gallon bucket. How can I measure out 4 gallons?

4 comments 8:42 a.m. - 2007-11-02

Pro-Tax 11th-Hour Flier
(Click on each of the 2 pages for larger images).

MANY THANKS to the kind reader who considerately sent me a copy of the flier recently distributed in Ypsilanti--not by some wacko, I am astonished to learn--but by the pro-tax group itself!

As for me, the gratuitous alarmist speculations make me lose whatever remaining respect I had for this group. After reading it, I feel as if an attempt had been made not to respectfully reason with me as an intelligent person, but only to cheaply manipulate me as an unthinking person. Read it and judge for yourself.

8 comments 8:43 a.m. - 2007-11-02

Self-Righteous Do-Gooder/Vandal Carrie Nation Properly Jeered in Ann Arbor (1902)

Kind readers, insufferable Prohibitionist and hatcheteer Carrie Nation didn't get a very kind reception from snarky U-M students, in saloon-heavy Ann Arbor, when she orated at the corner of State St. and N. University, in 1902. You can read all about it, below.

"Carrie A. Nation (1846-1911), the "Vessel of Wrath," was 56 and at the peak of her fame on May 3, 1902, when, standing on the back of a horse-drawn cab at the corner of State Street and North University Avenue, she engaged in rollicking repartee with a boisterous crowd of Michigan students. Emerging as a Prohibition crusader in Kansas in 1900, Mrs. Nation had gained quick national renown by vandalizing the stock and furnishings of numerous saloons -- at first hurling rocks, then switching her M.O. to smashing with a hatchet that she carried beneath her waterproof cape. She was arrested numerous times, and paid the fines for her "hatchetations" by lecturing and selling souvenir hatchets and photographs. In this area, she spoke in nearby Milan and in Ann Arbor (at the Athens Theater, the former Opera House, at the SW corner of Main and Ann). She entered several Ann Arbor saloons to confront their owners or barkeeps, but smashed nothing. Newspaper reports suggest that admission fees kept her lecture audiences small, and there were few verbal fireworks. In fact, she drew her biggest crowd during this free appearance on the edge of the University of Michigan campus.

"I have been to all the principal universities of the United States. At Cambridge, where Harvard is situated, there are no saloons allowed, but in Ann Arbor the places are thick where manhood is drugged and destroyed." --Carrie Nation, in her memoirs (1905).

The following report appeared in the "Washtenaw Daily Times," May 3, 1902:

One thousand students had a rollicking old time with Carrie Nation at the campus this morning and the collegians applauded everything she said . . . .

Just before the close of her address Mrs. Nation made a strong plea for the Prohibition party: "Now I want to see the hands raised of all you who vote the Prohibition ticket after this," said the smasher. Every mother's son in the mob put both hands high in the air. "Good!" shouted Carrie, with a broad smile and at the same time clasping her hands gleefully at the thoughts of making so many "converts." "Oh," she said, "that made the devil awful mad when he saw those hands."

"Rah-rah-rah! Rah-rah-rah! Rah-rah-rah! THE DEVIL," yelled the students in chorus.

Mrs. Nation spoke from an open hack at the northwest corner of the campus. During the early part of her address somebody passed up a whiskey flask that was labelled with a well-known brand, and containing a fluid that looked for all the world like genuine booze. Carrie held it aloft.

"Smash it!" yelled the crowd, and she complied. She bent down, took a good aim at the iron tire on the hack wheel and -- "crash" -- went the bottle.

Then the crowd was sorry that it had spoken, as the fluid in the bottle was a solution of hydrogen de sulphide, which is the polite name for the smell of rotten eggs. Some student pursuing chemistry had fixed up the dose and Carrie and the crowd got the benefit of it.

"Whew!" said the students, backing away and holding their noses, but it didn't seem to phase the agitator.

"Tell us about Doc Rose [an Ann Arbor saloonkeeper]," shouted some one.

"I'll tell you about that old Doc Rose," she declared.

"Rah-rah-rah! Rah-rah-rah! Rah-rah-rah! DOC ROSE!" yelled the students.

"All he wants you to go there for is your money," she said.

"Ain't got any money," remarked the student who has been waiting to hear from home.

"You go in there sensible, continued Mrs. Nation, not noting the interruption, "and you come out --"

"Broke," emphasized a student.

"I want you to be like Daniel of old. Daniel was a captive and --"

"Rah-rah-rah! Rah-rah-rah! Rah-rah-rah! DANIEL!" yelled the students in chorus again.

The collegians simply made a farce of the whole performance. At the close of her talk Mrs. Nation reminded the crowd that she had some souvenir hatchets and photographs for sale.

The mob rushed in and she was proceeding to do a land office business, when it began to look as if the hack would be overturned in the mad rush. The hackman whipped up the horses and the carriage rolled away, but not before one student had climbed up behind and stole a hatful of little hatchets. He dropped down and distributed them among his friends.

The crowd chased up the hack for about a block and then gave up the pursuit.

(via unofficial AA historian Wystan Stevens)

1 comments 8:05 a.m. - 2007-11-02

Stephen Colbert Kicked out of SC Primary

YPSIDIXIT is peeved and troubled that Stephen Colbert was denied a spot in the South Carolina Democratic primary. The Democratic "executive council" said that one of the requirements was that you have to be a "nationally recognized candidate." Are you kidding me? We have SEVENTEEN presidential candidates! How many people on the street could spell out to you the platform of Duncan Hunter, much less Ron Paul? And that's not even counting the third-party candidates! Why would one need to be "nationally recognized," anyways? I don't see why that should be a requirement, and it's the fuzziest requirement *I've* ever heard of. My only consolation is that 3 people on the 16-member "executive council" voted for him.

Fritz's comment on this woeful rejection: "We can't deny candidates a spot just because they're silly! Then where would we be?" Hee hee.

2 comments 8:14 p.m. - 2007-11-01

The Ypsilanti Personal Time Zone Plan
Might any kind reader know why the Depot Town Clock was set, apparently on Tuesday, to be one hour slow? I couldn't believe my eyes when I was biking home through Depot Town at "5 o'clock." 5 o'clock! Did I leave work early by mistake? Oh, no! Am I in trouble? Am--oh, waitaminute...

Has this attractive shopping district adopted its own charming miniature time zone? Like Newfoundland? Will City Hall have to add one of those international-type clock arrays, (an array of two) labeled "Ypsilanti" and "Depot Town"? That would lend a cosmopolitan air to Council chambers.

I guess this throws it wide open to other Ypsilantians--this is a democracy, right? So the rest of us are also free to make adjustments to the time, as we'd prefer. Personal time zones for all is the new rule.

Two hours late to your job evaluation meeting? No problem! Just explain that your personal time zone (PTZ) is set 2 hours later--you're actually right on time! This display of rugged individualism and originality should impress your boss. And think about this. What sort of business would LOVE to relocate to a place where the laws of time are fluid? Why, a bank, of course--a fortune could be made in investments by exploiting the time differential, yes it could, trust me, I'm an expert. Readers, think of the new businesses we could lure to town! Say yes to Ypsilanti's future! Nothing but good can come from the Ypsilanti Personal Time Zone Plan!

6 comments 12:24 p.m. - 2007-11-01

New Request for Proposals for Water Street

YPSILANTI is preparing to release a new Request for Proposals for Water Street in the next few weeks. "City officials are speaking to a number of developers about taking on the development and are keeping a very open mind about what can be built there," says a Metromode news article. Emphasis on "very," I hope.

0 comments 9:15 a.m. - 2007-11-01

How to Lower Your Property Taxes

AN ARTICLE in the latest Business Week magazine explains how to appeal to reduce your property taxes if you feel your home is currently overvalued in the very poor housing market. I've added links to local agencies, below, to help you pursue this yourself.

The article details the story of one homeowning couple who successfully appealed and reduced their property taxes by 18%. The article offers a step by step guide on how to file an appeal, and suggests you do it yourself, since a recent increase in consultants and lawyers who help you file appeals often pocket 50% of the first-year savings--and appeals boards are often more sympathetic to people who file on thier own.

From the article: "Your first stop should be your local assessor's office or Web site. There you'll find the forms you need to appeal. You'll also find assessments and descriptions of every property in town. Scrutinize your property's records for errors that may have artificially inflated the assessment. Cheryl Krueger, a Schaumburg (Ill.) financial planner, discovered that her quarter-acre lot was listed in the official records as 0.82 acres. "When I looked at what others in our neighborhood were paying in taxes, it was clear that ours was way out of line," she says. In June she won a reduction in her assessment that knocked 20% off her tax bill.

"It's a good idea to compare your assessment with those of similar properties. If you can find at least five that carry lower valuations, it will enhance your odds of success."

Links to Local Agencies:

City of Ypsilanti tax assessment office website. Use the "Assessment Information" link at bottom to look up the value of any City property. Or, contact Sharon Doom at 483-1530.
City of Ypsilanti property taxes FAQ.
Ypsilanti Township property tax assessor's website.
Website for searching for property values of any parcel in Washtenaw County.
State of Michigan property tax estimating tool (uses 2006 rates).
The Business Week article "How to Reduce Your Property Taxes."

0 comments 9:16 p.m. - 2007-10-31

Fearmongering Fliers Distributed in Ypsi

WHAT'S THIS I HEAR about fliers being delivered in Ypsilanti saying that if the income tax vote is defeated, you an expect to spend $30 to $50 a month on a home security system because "there won't be police protection"? Who wrote this garbage? Who is the fearmonger? Does the author have the guts to stand up and reveal him or herself? What craven, cowardly fearmongering. I never heard such ridiculous nonsense.

13 comments 4:20 p.m. - 2007-10-31

Today's Zen Koan

A famous one, for kind and enlightened readers.

Shuzan held up a pumpkin carved so as to resemble an Ann Arbor urban fairy cottage and said, "If you call this a pumpkin carved so as to resemble an Ann Arbor urban fairy cottage, you oppose its reality. If you do not call this a pumpkin carved so as to resemble an Ann Arbor urban fairy cottage, you ignore the fact. Now, what do you wish to call it?"

See? It's a hard one, by Jiminy.

1 comments 12:47 p.m. - 2007-10-31

Proposed Amtrak Route in Jeopardy

The proposed Washtenaw and Livingston Line (WALLY) rail service seems to be in jeopardy. The state has pledged 1.5 million, Washtenaw County has pledged $300,000, and the Northfield and AA DDAs will reportedly contribute too. Washtenaw County's board is scheduled to adopt its budget, with the contributions to WALLY, on Nov. 14.

Not Livingston County. County board member Bill Rogers, board chairman, said the county "needs more information, including more concrete budget and ridership projections, before it can participate," according to the Daily Press and Argus. Howell and Livingston's DDAs have asked the county to pledge the money.

The commentors to this story (see bottom) are having none of it. "It should be 100% self supported. Why should I be forced to pay for someone else's transportation? Another entitlement?" says one. Another: "On what planet is this considered a good idea?" Yet another: "Dreams of quaint little European rail systems are inaccurate given our job and destination densities." OK then.

4 comments 12:19 p.m. - 2007-10-30

Cheney and Confederate flag flap.

3 comments 10:46 a.m. - 2007-10-30
____________________________________________________________________________________________ Says Best Mexican Restaurant in America is in Ypsilanti; Cross Street is a Foodie Ginza
First the Sidetrack (56 E. Cross) scored as one of GQ's best burgers in the States. NOW, no less an authority than Epicurious (!) weighs in to say that "I'm convinced that the best Mexican restaurant in America is in Ypsilanti, Michigan (at 529 W. Cross!)" Well, I won't argue--it's certainly the best *I've* ever had. As well as the writer:

"That was nine years ago, my last one living in Michigan. I spent that year wisely, going to La Fiesta probably more than 20 times, eating my way through the menu, mowing down plates of skirt steak, chilies stuffed with meat and nuts, and so many pork stews that the servers eventually started calling me "Chico de Puerco."

"It wasn't always amazing. Sometimes the tamales came out a little dry, sometimes the mole came out a little bitter, sometimes that herby tomato sauce came out a little watery. But none of this ever mattered, not where I first learned to eat this food in the first place, not where I first became a culinary Mexiphile.

"In town the other day for the first time in a couple of years, I cajoled a bunch of friends to eat there with me. They know me to be a man of enthusiasms, though I'm not sure they could quite understand why I wanted to squeeze six in a rented econobox for the 20-minute drive to Ypsi. But then Ariel took a bite of a chip and lit up at its lightness. Hannah had a taste of the salsa and re-situated the bowl to sit directly in front of her. And it was on." The story.

5 comments 9:51 a.m. - 2007-10-30

Busted for "Bathtub Cheese"
Floribel Hernandez Cuenca, 29, and Manuel Martin Sanchez Garrido, 44, of Montclair, California, were busted for selling 375 pounds of a variety of home-made soft cheeses (panela, queso fresco and queso oxaca) in San Bernardino, a few blocks from the large cheese manufacturing plant the Farmdale Creamery. Cuenca was arrested on "felony cheese manufacturing charges." “Illegally produced is cheese is serious threat to public health,” says California Department of Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura. Yes, Ypsidixit has lost quite a bit of sleep over it.

Ypsidixit wonders what, precisely, determines whether the authorities view your home-made cheese as "bathtub" cheese or "artisan" cheese. Hm.

3 comments 8:16 a.m. - 2007-10-30

Preserve Your Pumpkin for Millenia

IT IS HUMAN NATURE to try and make permanent what is only fleeting in life. That's why people buy Pumpkin Fresh, a spray that promises to preserve your carved pumpkin for eons. But does it work? Over at, they tried six different methods of preserving carved pumpkins:

1. the apocryphal "Elmer's Glue" method,

2. the traditional "Vaseline on cut edges" method,

3. the "bleach dip" method,

4. the "Pumpkin Fresh" spray method,

5. the "acrylic spray" method, and

5. one control pumpkin.

Like to hand your pumpkin down through the generations? Merely read their experiment and its startling results. Note: There are links to some other, um, interesting experiments at the bottom of the (long) page.

0 comments 9:00 p.m. - 2007-10-29

BusinessWeek One of the Most Interesting Magazines
YPSIDIXIT IS AS SURPRISED as anyone to find out that BusinessWeek is in my list of top 5 favorite magazines. Before starting to read it last spring, I didn't realize how 1. good the writing is, 2. how well-researched the articles are, 3. how cosmopolitan the mag is by virtue of including stories from around the globe and 4. how interesting it is to learn about coming and current trends in the culture, as seen from an economic angle. We have a sub and I always read it cover to cover.

I rank BusinessWeek up with Mother Jones as far as the quality and depth of its reporting. Typical of BW's "won't read this anyplace else" stories is its most recent cover story, "Little Green Lies." Think your favorite company does a good job of green business practices? This article may open your eyes as it did mine. It details the failed struggle of one company's in-house ecological consultant to institute green practices at an Aspen ski resort. It also reveals, among other points, that the popular carbon-offset renewable energy credits (RECs) "which are supposed to result in a third party's developing pollution-free power, turn out to be highly dubious." Always informative and intelligent, often with a dry sense of humor, and highly recommended.

0 comments 12:49 p.m. - 2007-10-29

EMU Professor Tops "RateMyProfessors.Com" List!

ZOWIE. Check out what popped up as I was looking up ratings for some of my old professors: EMU German history professor Robert Citino is rated #1 on the nationwide website! His students clearly love him, based on their comments: "Made history really interesting! and he is quite the snappy dresser- thanks to his wife. (I asked) ;)," "Rob Citino lives and breathes Germany war history," "Good guy, takes a subject that should be rather dry, like German history, and has you laughing most of the class, but at the end of the day you know your stuff."

What a great honor--voted #1 by students across the land! All the more impressive since EMU is not a large school! Hats off to Professor Citino!

0 comments 10:22 a.m. - 2007-10-29

Sticking up for Spiders Ypsilantian Cara Shillington, an EMU biology teacher and owner of 200 tarantulas, who's fed up with the portrayal of spiders in the media. "It really bugs me having six-legged spiders or having all of the legs on the wrong segment, and things like that," she fumes. Don't get her mad, people! Learn your segments! Segment Guide. Did you know that spiders have "an incredibly hard life"? They do, poor things. So says Cara.

0 comments 9:00 a.m. - 2007-10-29

Heritage West Newspapers Blog

"INSIDE THE NEWSROOM" offers readers "News, commentary, and fun from the staff of the Saline Reporter and Milan News-Leader." That's what Ypsidixit wants from news purveyors--fun. You can find such fun tidbits as a timeline of Saline's freshman football season implosion, here. Perusers will also learn that the Michigan Ave Cones Are Coming Down--"I'll be one of the first to kiss the black roadway on Thursday morning!" gushes the author. That sounds fun. There's also a wrap-up of the recent festive Harvest of the Arts: "A fire broke out in the food court as culinary arts students were cooking on a hot plate." Not so fun. Read more.

0 comments 8:32 a.m. - 2007-10-29

Charmed Day at Wasem's

WE DROVE SLOWLY down the washboard dirt road of Hitchingham Road on the way to Wasem's. The sky was clear blue, with dried cornstalks and yellow and copper trees along this rural road.

The trip had poignancy, because Fritz and I had come here, over a year ago, on a date. "I remember those woods," "I remember that dogleg in the road," we kept saying. We pulled into the busy Wasem's parking lot off the threadlike Judd Road.

How many times, in a life, does one get a day of pure innocence and happiness, wandering in the long grass looking for apples? So I wondered, as we strolled, admiring sunlit leaves, strange squat pumpkins in a patch, and the sulphury woodlot in the back.

Now it is nighttime, and the orchard is in darkness; the season is over. Shut and locked is the shop full of gourds, fresh doughnuts, and a poster with the history of the Wasem family in newspaper clippings and yellowed photographs, which I read while Fritz got some doughnuts. A photograph of the Wasems marrying in the 1940s was here. So was a much later newspaper obituary of Mrs. Wasem, eulogized for her widely loved, over 100 varieties of jam that she regularly brought to the Ann Arbor Farmer's Market. Over six decades of apple farming had taken place here. I reflected on the amount of work it must have taken to start it up, and the amount of work it takes each year to keep things running, and found myself wishing I had an apple farm of my own nonetheless.

The sunlit day, seeing Fritz smiling, ambling through the crabbed grey-limbed trees. A hawk circled high overhead. Fallen carpets of red apples ringed the trees. Two pickers grew smaller and smaller, walking hand in hand into the furthest reaches of the lot, and into the trees.

0 comments 9:31 p.m. - 2007-10-28

Name the AATA Arthropod and Win a Technological Device

YEP. Think of a name for the AATA's menacing naturist insect, and you'll get something shiny! How about Bus-y Bee? No!-that's lame. How about Peaceflower Lovehumple the Bold? How about "AATA [atta] BOY"? How about Warty McScratchable? How About Sy Yanosis? How about Quahog Totem? How about I'm Too Plump to Achieve Powered Flight so I Might As Well Take the Bus? What do YOU think?

8 comments 12:57 p.m. - 2007-10-26

Second Chance Consignment Store Models Online Shopping
THE NEW SECOND CHANCE CONSIGNMENT STORE on Washtenaw offers local retailers without an online presence a good model of how to do this easily, without the expense of paying some web guy. Check it out. Bring your stuff there and they'll give you 50% once it sells. No bowling balls, "imposter perfume," or non-antique word processors, please. Kids car seats are welcome...(hmm, I didn't know you could resell those). Anyways, looks like they're on their way.

Have I been there yet? Nope--I'm a Value World girl through and through. We're going there tonight! Last time I got my Druidic coat and tried to talk Fritz into some distinctive new ties, which he was too smart to buy. This time I'm looking for a cute winter hat and notions! I never tire of the fun of assembling nice outfits from the scavenger hunt that is VW. At any rate, best of luck to Second Chance, one of Ypsi's newest businesses.

2 comments 1:14 p.m. - 2007-10-26

Halloween Brain Teaser Time
After little Egbert collects a shopping bag full of Halloween candy from the Prospect Park neighborhoods, and gorges himself till he's sick, his mom lays down the law.

"Next week, you can only have one big chocolate bar," she says. "Here's the catch. I will only give you 1/7th of the bar per day--but only if you tell me the minimum number of cuts I must make in order to give you 1/7th per day."

Poor Egbert!

19 comments 8:51 a.m. - 2007-10-26

I Couldn't Sell My House These Days to Save My Life. So When Will My Property Tax Come Down?

HERE'S a question I've been wondering about. Given Ypsilanti's disproportionately high rate of foreclosures and unsold homes relative to the rest of Washtenaw County, when will our property taxes come down?

Property taxes are based on the appraised value of a given property. Well, I've had a house for sale next to me for over a year and a half now. Yep. A year and a half. He's asking a price approximately what my own home was most recently appraised for. If this price were the actual current fair market value, his house would sell. Assuming that his house was appraised for about what mine was, and assuming he's asking a price that's roughly the appraisal price, it suggests that the most recent appraised value for both our houses is inflated.

The appraisal is done by the governmental entity levying the tax; in my case, Ypsi Twp. and in the case of my friends within the city, Ypsilanti. The City website says:

"The annual, general ad valorem property tax levy shall not exceed two (2%) percent of the assessed value of all real and personal property subject to taxation in the City, exclusive of any levies authorized by statute to be made beyond Charter tax limitations."

The value of anything is its actual worth in dollars. If you appraise a pot of geraniums at $25, I will not buy it, since that is not its value. It's too much. If you appraise it at $5, I will likely buy it, since that is a fair market value.

I could not sell my house now for its appraised value. But I do think I could sell it in a reasonable time if I priced it about $30,000 lower than its appraised value. Isn't the second, lower price its actual fair market value? Then why am I being taxed for a perceived value of $30,000 more?

Are Ypsi house values being over-appraised? Will the appraisal value come down the next round of property-tax appraisals? If not, why on earth not? And how can people seek a redress of this situation?

18 comments 1:06 p.m. - 2007-10-25

In a remarkable coincidence, all 5 of this week's letters in the Courier deal with the income tax. Even more remarkable, they're all pro-tax. Were Y. a cynic instead of a happy little bumblebee on the sunflower of life, she might note that the letters cover the pro-tax folks' talking points with uncanny precision. However, the clumsiness of organizing a letter-writing campaign in an unread newspaper in a town blanketed in red signs from end to end is just a wee bit silly.

12 comments 8:47 a.m. - 2007-10-25

Or Just Go in Lederhosen

STUCK FOR HALLOWEEN COSTUME IDEAS? Not to worry. Kind readers, you know me, your humblest scribe, as an "idea person." Yes, sir, from my Huron River waterborne taxi scheme to a local currency plan based on beeswax candles, you can rest assured I'm always dreaming something up.

Like fresh, new Halloween costumes. Now, I wish I could take credit for what I'm about to show you, but I can't. And won't. They're from a certain faraway land where long ago someone thought it would be a good idea for grown men to wear embroidered leather shorts. These costumes seem to follow that tradition. From Cell Phone Man to Fish on End to Friendly Tadpole/Sperm to "the true face of socialized medicine" to Robin Hood with his 2nd most famous weapon, they're all here. Enjoy!

p.s. don't miss the David Hasselhoff dust-up in the "comments" at the end. Some citizens of L'Allemagne seem a tad sensitive on the subject.

0 comments 8:48 a.m. - 2007-10-25

Luminaria in Ypsilanti on New Year's Eve

I note that the village of Dexter does a lovely thing: on Christmas eve, everybody in town puts out some luminaria along their front walk and front door. Wow, that must be beautiful.

Luminaria are easy to make. Just put a little dirt or kitty litter in the bottom of a paper lunch bag, and nestle a tea light in the litter. Line your front walk and light the candles and ooh. You can cut designs in the bag if you like for extra ooh.

Though the city's holiday Riverside Park lights may be dark, the resilient spirit and resourcefulness of its citizens burns brightly. If everyone took a few minutes to whip up a few lunchbag luminaria, the result could be spectacular and beautiful.

I suggest doing it for New Year's Eve, since it would make the New Year's Jubilee extra pretty and festive for those walking around to the different concerts.

The Jubilee could even add a "Luminaria Contest" to its roster of activities. Wouldn't you love to see what people dreamed up for a luminaria contest? Or be an Official Luminaria Judge? I sure would!

5 comments 3:21 p.m. - 2007-10-24

Detroit Noir

Y. is pleased as punch that her acquaintance Eric Olsen's name, as co-editor, is on a new collection of 16 mysteries set in and around Detroit: Detroit Noir.

Publisher's Weekly says "Few cities are as well suited to the genre as Detroit, with its embattled inner city and history of urban decline and blight, and the editors have assembled a talented lineup to do it justice with 16 original short stories. The always superb Loren D. Estleman starts the anthology off on a high note with his spare hard-boiled whodunit short, Kill the Cat. The constantly simmering background threat of violence informs two very different but equally accomplished tales: Joyce Carol Oates's Panic and Detroit Free Press columnist Desiree Cooper's Night Coming. The editors also include some well-done period pieces, like the 1950s-era The Coffee Break by Detroit News business editor Melissa Preddy, and their discerning selections maintain Akashic's excellent track record."

You can meet the authors and many of the contributors at a party at Ann Arbor's Aunt Agatha's on November 3 (event listing inside).

0 comments 12:43 p.m. - 2007-10-24

His Death Was Carved in Stone

In line with today's theme of major life milestones, here is Ann Arbor's first pictorial depiction of a news event:

"Two German immigrant men of Washtenaw County, both born on December 29 (albeit four years apart). Each died young, in an accident involving a horse-drawn rig.

"Each was buried beneath a shocking image that portrayed the terminal instant of his life."

(photos and title via unofficial AA historian Wystan Stevens)

Kind readers, the esteemed Mr. Stevens is giving a talk in Ypsi on Sunday, November 18!

"“Art in Washtenaw County Cemeteries”: Washtenaw County Historical Society. Talk by Ann Arbor’s unofficial city historian Wystan Stevens. Refreshments. 2-4 p.m., Ypsilanti District Library, 5577 Whittaker Rd. Free. 662-9092."

4 comments 12:37 p.m. - 2007-10-23

October 23

OCTOBER 23 is not shaping up to be particularly auspicious. It's the feast day for Giovanni da Capistrano, a late 14th early 15th century fiery Italian Franciscan monk. After he "put aside his new young wife" after a religious experience in prison, he founded a new, severely ascetic order of Franciscans. He also whipped up lynch mobs in Breslau and Berlin. He was so irascible that at 70 years old he was getting stoked to go on a Crusade against infidels. He even died violently, of bubonic plague. Of course, there is the celebrated mission in California to which the swallows return every year. But that's about it legacy-wise, that this humblest of observers can see.

Also, on October 23rds of yore, "1694 - American colonial forces, led by Sir William Phipps, fail to seize Quebec." Great. Hey, it's also Mole Day! Woohoo! Also on October 23: "1739 - War of Jenkins' Ear starts: British Prime Minister, Robert Walpole, reluctantly declares war on Spain." What? Wait, it turns out that this is an 18th century Gulf of Tonkin Incident, except precipitated by an ear:

"Under the 1729 Treaty of Seville, the British had agreed not to trade with the Spanish colonies. To verify the treaty, the Spanish were permitted to board British vessels in Spanish waters. After one such incident in 1731, Robert Jenkins, captain of the ship Rebecca, claimed that the Spanish coast guard had severed his ear. The British government, which was determined to continue its drive toward commercial and military domination of the Atlantic basin, used this incident as an excuse to wage war against Spain in the Caribbean." Leading, ultimately, to our getting Florida.

An ear traded for a land of people wearing fake mouse ears.

So we have a choice of themes here. I think I'll celebrate this day the way millions of bright-eyed young Avogadros will, with stimulating Mole Day activities: "Scavenger Hunt - Create a list of household items but use chemistry terms for the items you want. Such as: Something that contains NaHCO3" (whatever that is) or "Write a Mole Day poem, story, or cartoon." Lovely!

Today is all about chemistry, after all.

4 comments 7:27 a.m. - 2007-10-23

Bike Ypsi Ride a Success
Y. spoke with a gentleman this morning at the "Ypsilanti Transit Center" who had participated in Bike Ypsi's 15-mile bike ride yesterday and had a bumper sticker (bike-sized) to prove it! He said it was fun and that 30-40 people (!) had come. Wow! Couldn't have had a better day for it, and the ending point at the Corner Brewery was ideal, for replenishing vital liquids. Sounds as though the first social event of Bike Ypsi (aka the Ypsi BIking Coalition) was a big success.

5 comments 8:02 a.m. - 2007-10-22

Proposed Riverside Park and Frog Island Events

KIND READERS, as you know the Depot Town Community Development Corporation is poised to take over management of Riverside and Frog Island parks. They plan to hire an Event Coordinator. Would it not be great if this energetic, knowledgable, connected individual planned an exciting roster of events to enliven and up-utilize the parks? I've drawn up a back-of-the-envelope schedule of events for October. What do you think of it? Would this suggested calendar serve the interests of Ypsilantians? Would you like to see these events happening in the park? What did I miss? Take a gander at the Google calendar of Riverside Park and Frog Island Park events here. I very highly value your kind feedback. Thank you.

4 comments 12:13 a.m. - 2007-10-21

Amish Friendship Beef

ALERT! THERE'S some bags of Amish Friendship Bread starter currently on AA Freecycle. After recalling my sister's colorful account of her forgotten-Amish-Friendship-Bread-starter/"new kitchen stucco" disaster, I read this Amish Friendship Bread starter rant with relish. The ranter goes on to say,

I won’t play along. I’ll change the game.

Tomorrow I’m going to give three friends something new. Each will receive a Tupperware container, filled with an unidentifiable lump of frozen deep red matter. At first they will be confused, but I will supply these instructions...

9 comments 1:47 p.m. - 2007-10-19

Lights Out San Francisco
Tomorrow night from 8 to 9, San Francisco will be lights-out. That is, if organizers of Lights Out San Francisco persuade everyone to turn off all nonessential lights from 8 to 9 or at least put in a twirly-bulb. From the SF Ideal Bite newsletter: "Instead of reading by incandescent, share a candlelit dinner at the Mission's Medjool, where the lights will be off all night, or join a celebration in Dolores Park, with acoustic tunes by local band Crowsong. If you just can't go without, make sure you switch on a (free) CFL: Event organizers are giving away bulbs through tomorrow at San Francisco Safeway stores."

This is a good idea to promote conservation in that if you build up a critical mass of participants, the visual effect, in SF no less, is stunning and exciting, and gives the impression that turning off the lights does make a difference (15 % of a home's electricity is devoted to lighting). Also, it's fairly painless. Plus free twirlies!

Is this plan one Ypsi should try? Or do it ward by ward during a "Lights Out Week"?

(via Dave S. & Lisa B.; thank you!)

9 comments 8:49 a.m. - 2007-10-19

Charming Terri Gross Commercial Brightens Onorous NPR Pledge Drive

Ahhh, the fall NPR pledge drive! The ONE THING that makes it bearable is the funny little radio spot featuring Terri Gross working as a Whole Foods cashier: "What if we didn't get the pledge money?" asks a narrator. We then hear Terri, as checkout lady, attempting to engage the shopper in the type of interview she usually does. "Hmm...whole wheat bread. You know, they recently redesigned the food pyramid. Has that changed your shopping or eating habits?" And so on. It's clever and funny.

What if they did spots for other NPR or WUOM personalities? Hmmmm.....(harp music signaling a dissolve to alternate reality...)

The plummily-voiced Tamar Charney, who won an award for her story "Hill Auditorium's New Look": usher at Hill. "Here's a program, and now watch your step please--by the way, that step right there was restored to its original condition with a revolutionary adhesive made right here in Michigan with new green technologies, did you know that? Ma'am?"

Pit-bull curmudgeon Daniel Schorr: fast food worker. "Would you like fries with that burger made from beef grown in a CAFO and fed questionable grain grown with a fertilizer not approved by the FDA, an agency that appears to be in the pocket of the pharmaceutical companies who provide the bovine antibiotics that are infiltering our waterways, poisoning our air, and tainting our children, trees, grass, global future, and petunias? (With weathered sadness) What would Edward R. Murrow say? (stern pause) This is Daniel Schorr."

All Things Considered host Charity Nebbe: party store employee in charge of the bottle return. "Now, that's an interesting bottle cap! Do you collect them? Did you know there's a 96-year-old man up in Buzzard's Knuckle, Michigan, who collects pre-WW II bottle caps? It's true! I once devoted a special 3-hour, in-depth version of my show Stateside to his collection, which he keeps in a crumbling grain silo, and he--hey, come back! You need your receipt! HEY, BUDDY! YO!"

0 comments 2:03 p.m. - 2007-10-18

Broaching the Subject

Here's a bit of good news: American Broach is moving from Scio Township to Ypsi. In business since 1919, the company makes cutting tools used in machining. Story.

0 comments 1:57 p.m. - 2007-10-18

Best Science Images of 2007 Honored
What is it? A delicate sea creature? An insect? No, it's a scan of the sinuses underlying your nose, one of the "Best Science Images of 2007" chosen by Science magazine. Several are videos, like an amazing computer simulation of "hot towers" in hurricanes. It's not even 7:30 a.m., and I already learned something by watching it:

"A hurricane's "hot towers" can increase its intensity by adding power to boost the storm's heat engine. For the first time, research meteorologists have run complex simulations of these phenomena using a very fine temporal resolution. They have combined this new simulation data with satellite observations to study the innerworking of the "hot towers" in never-before-seen detail." The video.

Some of the other winners.

0 comments 7:16 a.m. - 2007-10-18

Youth Horse Patrol
Apropos of nothing, this seems like an outstanding program for young people. These four young Allegan County 4-H equestrians assist in fair security and ride in parades instead of showing at 4-H shows. The course is tailored to a future career in law enforcement; they learn CPR, self-defense, and public relations skills along the way. I can't help thinking that this would be a fabulous program to have for Ypsi youth, perhaps via Washtenaw 4-H.

"The Allegan County Junior Mounted Division 4-H Club has been working for 4 years in forming a new type of 4-H Horse Club. We are proud to say that Allegan County is one of the first counties in the State of Michigan to develop a Junior Mounted Division program. Administrative Leader Jamie Commissaries matches her Junior 4-H members with members of the Allegan County Sheriff’s Mounted Division as Mentors. The youth continue working on their horsemanship skills and equine knowledge while adding a large community service component and future job opportunity in law enforcement. With a high demand and special skills needed, the youth have an application process they have to go through before being accepted into the group. Once accepted they learn search and rescue procedures, first aid and CPR, self defense tactics, horsemanship, leadership and public relations skills. Instead of showing at the County Fair and winning ribbons, these youth show off their horsemanship in parades and while assisting in security at the fairgrounds during the fair. One of the inaugural Junior members has now become a Mounted Division member and Assistant 4-H Leader and Mentor. From left to right - Lindsey Curry, Branden Barber, Caly Koperski, Daisy Sagers."

1 comments 12:49 p.m. - 2007-10-17

Video of EMU Trial
The ongoing trial concerning the December slaying of EMU stident Laura Dickinson is being broadcast on video.

0 comments 9:08 a.m. - 2007-10-17

Happy Health-O-Ween!

HAPPY HEALTH-O-WEEN! That's how I greet neighborhood kids when they darken my doorstep each October 31. Want tips on how to render this antic candyfest into a nutrition education seminar? Friends, read on.

1. Aversion Therapy. Bad habits must be broken early in life. Look at Thomas Jefferson. OK, now look at me again. Get a picture online of some guy on a hospital bed. Take a Sharpie pen and write, "ONE TOO MANY SNICKERS: THE CHOICE IS YOURS" on it, Xerox it four to a page, cut apart, and wrap each one around a candy bar. Tape. Distribute.

2. An Inconvenient Tooth: Invite kids in for a Powerpoint presentation on the candy industry's carbon footprint. Show lots of pictures of baby animals and present such factoids as "Did you know there's a 10-mile zone of dead and dying baby animals around the Hershey factory in Pennsylvania?" Make up other convincing sound bites. "Did you know SweeTarts in the water supply are responsible for acid rain? Did you know Dots creates methane that destroys the ozone layer?" Keep this up long enough and you might get a Nobel Peace Prize, or at least a Reese's Piece Prize.

3. The White Plague. Today's kids have it soft. They don't realize that when we grew up, candy was a once-every-other-year Christmas treat. Sugar wasn't even discovered until 1967! (Modestly): A lot of sweet things appeared that year. (Sternly): So prepare six or seven dozen cookie sheets of home made organic sugarfree glop to cut up into bars. Studies show that kids prefer glop to Ghirardelli chocolate. Working women, just blow off a few days of work--no excuses, here!

Other possibilities include handing out individual raspberries (economical), screening a short film of a liposuction operation, or constructing a 12-station fitness trail in your front yard that kids must complete for their glop. Follow these tips and you'll have a holiday to remember, possibly from behind bars. Happy Health-O-Ween!

0 comments 7:01 a.m. - 2007-10-17

Exploring Tagged

KIND READERS, I know you'll agree with me that life is a textbook, from which we must study every day. Right now, I'm studying Tagged, to learn about social networking, of which I am ignorant. But it's out there, so I better git educated. Here's what I've learned thus far from perusing profiles:

1. Gentlemen, hard as it may be for me to convince you of this, ladies really could care less about a full-length view of your unclothed torso. We really could. It seems s o m e b o d y around here is mighty prideful of it, but...we'd rather see other things. Like your apple-cheeked face.

2. Ladies, a photo of yourself in unmentionables, holding a camera that reveals you took a pic of yourself in a mirror, is sad. Have you ever heard the dictum that the sexiest part of a woman's body is the nape of the neck that is exposed by the back collar of an otherwise demure kimono? It's true.

3. The guy who posted, for his profile picture, the sign "I Didn't Ask To Be Arab: I just got (fancy calligraphy font) LUCKY!" gets ten points for sass.

4. I am the second oldest person on Tagged. But hey! What do you get when you add an S to "age"? (Smugly) There you go.

5. When on Tagged, I keep feeling I should give a "shout out" to my "peeps." But I only have 2 peeps. A "whisper out" should cover things. Or maybe just a gentle hum.

That's all for now. Back to my textbook!

1 comments 8:44 p.m. - 2007-10-16

My Kid Could Paint That

Coming to town in November, this award-winning documentary begins as a portrait of temporarily-renowned 4-year-old art prodigy Marla Olmstead, but slides further and further into ambiguity as the origins of the paintings become unclear. Is she being exploited by her parents? How does worldwide media scrutiny affect a 4-year-old? Do the paintings done in the backyard and those in the gallery look the same? Hmmm. The documentary, to its credit, does not answer these questions! You'll have to make up your mind. Looks fascinating! Here's the trailer, and wow, it scored a 91 on Rotten Tomatoes!

0 comments 4:45 p.m. - 2007-10-16

Google To Emulate Facebook
GOOGLE EYES FACEBOOK: This is interesting: Google plans to roll out its own social networking platform, similar to Facebook and only a few, um, years later. Presumably this is due to Facebook founder Mark Zuckerman's refusal to sell, and no wonder; some opine that if Facebook makes an IPO its stock will climb faster and further than Google's did. Despite fevered talk of an imminent Facebook IPO one of its directors says they don't plan one till 2009, and the company is "not close" to "triggering SEC rules that require companies to go public once they reach a certain size." Facebook is also mired in a lawsuit with ConnectU, a Harvard social networking system that Zuckerman helped work on years ago.

When will Google unveil its social networking platform? Mebbe soon: "Google has to do something fast, because some of its best talent is starting to head for the exits. In July, Gideon Yu, finance chief at Google's YouTube, left for Facebook. Now other Google guys, stuck in the Googleplex and smelling a Facebook IPO that could turn early employees into early retirees, are also jumping ship."

Which would you invest in, if you could pick only 1: a cheap, fast-rising Facebook stock, or expensive ($625) Google stock? That's the question that will soon face the average tech investor with a budget.

7 comments 7:30 a.m. - 2007-10-16

Ann Arbor Women's Football Team
Wouldn't it be fun to invite the Spitfires, Ann Arbor's ladies' football team, to an exhibition game in Riverside Park? But whom should they play? An ad hoc team of...hmm, someone tough but not TOO unsportingly tough.

You do have to admire their ketchup-barfing-carp logo. I think that's what it is. That's pretty cool symbolism...or, it would be if I knew what it signified.

4 comments 4:41 p.m. - 2007-10-15

Naomi Wolf: Better Than Espresso on a Monday Morning
Boy, nothing'll perk you up this Monday morning--or at least raise your hackles--mine anyways--than this Stephen Colbert interview with airhead-feminist-turned-would-be-political-commentator (snort) Naomi Wolf. God, she's dumb. Examine the fleeting look of dismay on her face when Stephen starts the crowd chanting "USA!" She's off script and doesn't know what to do next. Luckily Stephen takes pity on her and allows her to go into her memorized, pat spiel of the 10 steps countries take to turn into Stalinist states (rolls eyes).

Examine also the cover of her book. Remind you of something? Now imagine for a moment, kind reader the unabashed--no, shameless hubris and narcissism you'd need to imitate this famous pamphlet. Whoa, Nellie!

Here's one final bonbon for your consideration. She starts her latest, mawkish, article, "American Tears," by saying "I am traveling across the country at the moment — Colorado to California — speaking to groups of Americans from all walks of life about the assault on liberty and the 10 steps now underway in America to a violently closed society." She deliberately makes it sound as if she's on an independent speech or research campaign. Um, no: what she doesn't say is that she is on a booksigning tour. Shilling her book!

From the unbelievable naivete and effrontery of her proposed American Freedom Pledge, to her inelegant prose style and juvenile writing level, Naomi Wolf is a national embarrassment.

Ypsidixit is not a fancypants Rhodes Scholar like some people...but I like to think I know a fraud when I see one. It's just common sense.