This website is accident-free, with 187 teeter totter rides and zero recordable injuries.

Links to Last 10 Talks

Bill Merrill

Chris Carey

Jim Ottaviani

Dante Chinni

Robb Johnston

Nick Prueher

Steve Bean

Devon Persing

Gareth Morgan

Brian Kerr

Complete link list
of all the Talks

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Roos Roast Coffee

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April 2008 -- May Archive

permanent link 31 May 2008

(Check it out: Musical Balance)

The other day I was in the downtown location of the Ann Arbor District Library chatting with Tim Grimes, and he mentioned a circulating collection I was previously ann arbor district library unaware of: framed art prints. That's right, you can check out a framed art print with the same straightforward process you use to check out a book. They even give you a handy carrying bag for easy transport.

As remarkable as I think that is, I had no intention of checking out an art print that day. But when Tim showed me where on the third floor the art prints are kept, we leafed through a couple, and then my eye fell on the print here. How could I not check that out?! I would guess that Josie Parker prefers the framed art prints to be kept indoors. So, just to be clear, I dragged it out to the backyard and leaned it against the teeter totter just to get better lighting for the photograph, then took it back inside.

Now as fond as I am of the image itself, the label on the reverse reveals the most inaccurate title I could possibly imagine for this print. So here's a challenge for Teeter Talk readers: what's the actual title of the print? And just for fun, what would be a better title?

permanent link 30 May 2008

(Rabbit Poop Run ... Redux)

In a bit of disappointing news, Midwest Rabbit Rescue and Re-home did not win the million-dollar makeover from Zootoo, which Debbie T. talked about on the totter. So the bunnies could use a little extra boost from the community right about now.

Parking Structure Dude! and I will be starting off the month of June by pedaling up to Plymouth on Sunday afternoon to lend a hand with the cage cleaning. Then we plan to haul back another trailer full of bunny poop just like we've done before.

The energy required for the effort will be supplied in part by a morning Coffee Class hosted by John Roos.

permanent link 28 May 2008

(Where's This?)

The next Talk in the transcription queue offered this view from my end of the totter.

This ann arbor rooftopsis the just the corner of the image, but when I first opened up the picture on my computer, at full resolution, just this corner filled up the entire screen. And I thought, Where the hell is this? And, Who took this picture?

From that I conclude it's not straightforward to deduce where this is. I mean, I couldn't tell, and I was there. Apparently. I mean, I've listened back through the tape and that sounds like me.

So kudos to Teeter Talk readers who can identify the buildings and deduce the ride location before the Talk is published. Which will be soon.

permanent link 26 May 2008

(Tea-ter Totter)

Next weekend, Ann Arbor's own Jeremy Lopatin, is heading to the World Tea Expo in Las Vegas as an arborteas packaging canisterinvited speaker on a panel addressing social responsibility in the tea industry. He'll be talking about how he and his wife, Aubrey, founders of ArborTeas, address the issues of social and environmental responsibility in their company.

But it's fair for us to think of Jeremy as an emissary from Ann Arbor to the 10,000 attendees of the Expo. And he's open to conveying ideas to the Expo that Teeter Talk readers might have--either for greening up the tea industry specifically, or for ways of greening up in general that could be transplanted to the tea industry.

Shoot him an email at greenup at arborteas dot com, with suggestions of areas to focus on.

Jeremy is going to do us proud in Vegas, I'm sure. But I have to admit to feeling a little slighted by the World Tea Expo organizers. Perhaps my invitation to the Expo got lost in the mail. Or something. I mean, Dude, lookit I've got a tea-ter totter, and I'm even willing to spell it your way.

To see what Jeremy and ArborTeas have got that make them special, read Jeremy's Talk.

permanent link 23 May 2008

(Chicken Errata and the Washtenaw Dairy)

To begin, apologies are in order to Chris Easthope, whose support of Ann Arbor's chicken ordinances I previously mis-characterized as contingent on the neighbor-approval amendment. I was able to clarify for myself what his views on the chicken ordinances are over coffee and a donut at Washtenaw Dairy this morning.

Besides Chris, I saw a couple of other totter-related personalities down at the Dairy. Bob Droppleman proved he wasn't kidding on the totter when he said: "... which I have to stop and get my coffee. The Washtenaw Dairy, I go by on my way to work."

And then Bob Leopold sat down and chatted at the table where I was sitting. He observed that he'll be paying around $4.50 a gallon for diesel fuel when he drives the truck back to Colorado in a couple of weeks. When I mentioned to him that I'd shared a lovely ride on a teeter totter with his son, Todd Leopold, he knew what I was talking about. And that pretty well Made. My. Day. And it's not even noon, yet.

permanent link 22 May 2008

(Two Minutes of your Time)

The video embedded here lasts less than two minutes. The good part starts about 1:20 into the montage. If you're puzzled about what the good part is, think about what website you're reading right now. It ain't Teeter Totters Are Overrated.

If I could get some pants-defying practitioners of parkour into my backyard, it'd make for a 'traceur totter'.

That's good alliterative fun, but it might brutalize the distinction between parkour and freerunning. Someone who could probably clarify the difference is Levi Meeuwenberg who'll be appearing at the Ann Arbor District Library on 9 June 7:00pm. If you're fortunate enough to receive the G4 Network from your television provider, you'll have already seen Levi do us proud on Ninja Warrior--a Japanese obstacle course game show that must be seen to be believed. This'll be a great chance to see Levi in person.

permanent link 20 May 2008

(AAiO: On the Contribution of Hostile Bloggers to the Local Economy)

When I meet new people, sometimes their response to the revelation that I publish something remotely blog-like is roughly: "You're not one of those Ann Arbor is Overrated people, are you?" And of course, I can honestly say, Noooo, I'm not one of those ... unless 'one of those' includes anyone who's ever left a comment on that blog. I don't think folks split semantic hairs quite that fine, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone were maintaining a list and keeping some kind of score.

Still publishing almost exactly six years after its launch, it's fair to ask of AAiO what more than a half decade of unrelentingly sarcastic commentary has added to the Ann Arbor community. It's also fair to ask that same question of a brand-new online publication called Concentrate, which takes an unrelentingly sunny view of this city.

One fair way to answer this question is to measure in dollars and cents. Here's how I process that computation. I start by ignoring my neighbors. Then I observe that Julia Lipman, author of Ann Arbor is Overrated, installed a link to Teeter Talk on the right sidebar of AAiO. I did not pay her to do that. I didn't even ask her to do that. She just did it.

A guy who reads AAiO followed that link from AAiO to Teeter Talk. From there he followed some links to HD Hauling, my bicycle-trailer cargo hauling enterprise. From there he followed some mental links to the old, still-working, kitchen stove in his garage that he could not find anybody to come pick up. So he emailed me, and last Saturday morning I hauled that kitchen stove to the Salvation Army on my bike trailer.

I'm sure it's not a complete picture, but here's my personal ledger:

$20.00 AAiO
$ 0.00 Concentrate

Just to be clear, there's not a pay-to-ride program at Teeter Talk. Before Julia rode, I didn't know that her link to Teeter Talk would put $20.00 in my pocket. What I did know before Julia rode was that I needed to prepare for her visit by adding a second rain barrel to my homestead. The first one, I installed in the back of my house, even though the place it would have the most beneficial impact would be in front, towards the side of the house. I had deferred to the expressed preference of my neighbors by not installing it there, ann arbor rain barrel because they think rain barrels are ugly, and they threatened to blast a hole in the side of it with a shotgun. Based on their execution by shotgun blast of a stricken squirrel some years ago, I take that threat somewhat seriously.

But in light of my neighbors' fierce lobbying against chickens in Ann Arbor, I'll no longer factor their preferences, needs, or threats into anything I do. It's one thing to disagree about an abstract political issue, but it's another thing to renege on a verbal agreement reached over the course of more than 8 months of conversations, whereby they said they would be content to have me keep chickens as long as I shared eggs, and as long as I kept a specific breed (Araucanas). Instead they sent emails to our City Council describing potential chicken keepers as 'selfish' and 'hypocritical' (and CC-ed them to me?!) apparently not grasping the fundamentals of how to be a decent neighbor (Rule 1: Don't lie. Rule 2: Don't name-call). But that's all better fodder for Mulholland Avenue is Overrated dot com than for Teeter Talk. (By the way, 341 Mulholland will be up for sale soon, so we'll see exactly whether Mulholland is overrated and if so, by how much.)

Anyway, back to the second rain barrel, and why I needed one in advance of Julia's visit to the totter. It's bad enough to have to look at an ugly rain barrel innocently collecting rain water from a downspout. But what if you had to look at a hostile blogger taking a bath in that rain barrel? In case Julia was amenable to my proposal, I wanted to be prepared with a second rain barrel, so I picked one up at the Huron River Watershed Council's second mass distribution. I wasn't asking Julia to do anything I haven't done myself. To see how Julia Lipman responded to my pitch to her to live above my garage in a granny flat, and to take her regular bath in my rain barrel in full view of the neighbors, read her Talk.

permanent link 19 May 2008

(What People Build with Used Lumber)

Andrew Sell is an artist. I invited him to the totter to talk about his art and the Warehaüse show that he helped organize. For that show, he and a group of 15 other artists built a few hundred lineal feet worth of walls in a temporarily available space adjacent to the Liberty Lofts development (former site of the Eaton factory).

After the 3-week show ended, a sign appeared on a piece of plywood: "Free 2 x 4's Inside". I spotted that sign while hauling books on my bike trailer for John Weise's Books by Chance. So after finishing the book run, I headed back to pick up some 2 x 4's. Loading the trailer, another guy who was scavenging some free lumber just like me said, Hey, you must be Dave! I'm John Weise's dad!

That chance meeting was remarkable enough. What was even more remarkable to me--and what has convinced me that whatever spiritual forces might exist in the universe are aligned with me--is how the Talk with Andrew Sell continued after this:

HD: So then I am totally beholden to you personally, because I have 24 8-foot 2 x 4 studs in my garage that I snagged from the salvage operation afterwards.

AS: Yes, I mean we really wanted to make sure that everything was re-used as much as possible. So a lot of people got wood, my parents got a whole bunch of wood. They're building a brand-new ...

[Read the rest of Andrew's Talk]

permanent link 16 May 2008

(Assemblywomen Review, Contest Results)

Last Saturday at the University of Michigan Union ballroom a group of Northwestern University students under Kate Bosher's co-direction performed Aristophones' The Assemblywomen. The performance was presented as part of the Classics and Feminism conference.

Although the audience was filled with Classicists, who clearly appreciated the presentation, regular folk like me were also, I think, thoroughly entertained. The acoustics of the ballroom weren't adequate to really show off the vocal talents of Madeline Duffy-Feins, who played Praxagora, or the other cast members, who handled the musical arrangements by Greg Robic with great aplomb. But the comic elements of the original, as well as the inside Classics Conference jokes, were executed with the kind of perfect timing that resulted in good fun for everybody.

Good fun for some, but not for everybody, was the last Teeter Talk contest that went out only over the RRS feed and not to the website. The idea was to render some artistic depiction of the following description of an image on an ancient Greek vase.

It depicts a game of see-saw. Standing on the central support is an old silen. At the right, upper end of the see-saw is a little man wearing a mask. He is shown as he bounces into the air off the board with extraordinary agility. At the opposite end of the board stands a woman on her tip-toe. Her features are of barbarian type ...

One entry I disqualified on the grounds anyone who watches Battlestar Galactica should know that a cylon is not the same as a silen. And there were a couple of entries that were, um, a little pornographic, so they're not included here. They were, however, rewarded with a desktop teeter totter just the same. Next time, I think I'll just try to keep it simple.

permanent link 15 May 2008

(Skatepark Public Hearing 20 May)

ann arbor skate parkTrevor Staples knocked on my door a couple of nights ago to give me some Ann Arbor Skatepark stickers. So I scanned one in and stuck it right here on Teeter Talk.

The occasion for Trevor's visit was the upcoming public hearing by the Parks Advisory Commission on the proposal to locate a concrete skate park in the northwest corner of Veterans Park, nestled below the stand of trees that many Ann Arborites probably associate with that corner. Across the street from the proposed skate park location is a parcel currently being re-developed by McKinley. According to the Ann Arbor News, one new tenant for that location will be an Aldi store (discount grocery).

4:00pm Tuesday, 20 May
Council Chambers, Larcom Building

If you've never been down to the Council chambers at the Larcom Building, then the public hearing on the skate park location is a perfect excuse to make a visit. It's important that PAC hear from you about why you support or oppose the Vets Park location.

permanent link 14 May 2008

(Juggling Festival: Part III)

When a teeter tottering enthusiast heads off to a juggling festival with a teeter totter, it's natural to expect the talk on the totter to be dominated by juggling themes. I was pleasantly surprised to find that other timely topics appeared, connected to the general theme of getDowntown's Curb Your Car Month. For example, on the topic of etiquette on the bus, this snippet from Sara S.'s Talk:

HD: I don't think I would [do that].

SS: I actually have done that, ...

[Read the rest of Sara's Talk]

permanent link 13 May 2008

(Juggling Festival: Part II)

I tottered with multiple people at the 2008 Ann Arbor Juggling Arts Festival. The second of these was Dave Lewis. If you watched every frame of the embedded video in the 4 May 2008 entry below, he's the guy who climbed atop the board to stand on one end and juggle, while I remained seated on the other end, holding the board in a more-or-less horizontal position. There's a still frame of that spectacle included with his Talk. As well as this from a curious native of the Hoosier state:

HD: ... so does Indiana as a state have any extra wrinkles as far as tax code that you as a software developer just hate?

DL: Yes. I'm glad you asked that, Dave! ...

[Read the rest of Dave's Talk]

permanent link 12 May 2008

(Juggling Festival: Part I)

Saturday before last at the Ann Arbor Juggling Festival, Bruce Fields introduced me to the proper way to pass clubs--something I had never learned before. The video embedded here was shot over my right shoulder on the attempt where we declared success. In the end I was satisfied that there was at least something left of my old juggling skills. Initially, though, I'm sure it seemed to Bruce like I was just randomly throwing stuff at him.

If you'd like to try throwing stuff at Bruce, check out one of the regular meetings of the Ann Arbor Juggling Arts Club. Bear in mind that he will catch the stuff and throw it back ... in a nice gentle arc. If you'd like to know more about the kind of person you'll meet at the Juggling Arts Club, you can meet one in written form by reading Bruce Fields' Talk.

permanent link 10 May 2008

(The Pathos of Teeter Tottering)

In a review of the movie Speed Racer for the Newhouse News Service, Stephen Whitty writes:

That doesn't mean the movie has to give Speed a speed problem, or make Trixie turn tricks. But it has to--as the best superhero movies have done--find a hint of something adult in the childhood pleasure. It has to discover something that was there all along, and let us rediscover it now. Anything less is just a little pathetic--like a middle-aged man sitting on the teeter totter.

Well, huh.

permanent link 9 May 2008

(General Housekeeping)

The two 'house ads', which appeared recently in the left sidebar of Teeter Talk, mark the start of a local advertising program for Teeter Talk. I think it's an interesting approach to advertising online. It blends traditional display ads with super-sophisticated time-optimized sorting algorithms. Um, well, there's one stack that's presented in date-order. If you know of a local enterprise that you think would be a good fit, tell them.

In other micro-news, I ran into Peter Beal at the Old Town Tavern last Sunday, who reported that he's trying to finish off some client projects. He had committed to those projects back when he had access to the workshop at 1960 S. Maple. Nowadays, though, a lot of his time is taken up by his teaching at Washtenaw Community College.

If you'd like to read a steady stream of micro-news, you might try following a2newwestside on Twitter. I populate that feed with things observed while out hauling stuff in my bicycle trailer.

It's indirectly Twitter's fault that some readers have had to put up with the irritation of this page automatically refreshing every 5 minutes. I've turned that off as of this post. I had added a refreshing feature long ago when I experimented with embedding a Twitter feed in this page so that I could report the result of the People's Food Coop referendum (on boycotting Israeli goods) straight from my cell phone. The experiment passed, although the referendum did not. I forgot to turn off the refreshing after the experiment.

If you'd like Chris Easthope, Leigh Greden, Joan Lowenstein, Stephen Rapundalo, Stephen Kunselman, and John Hieftje, to re-think the 'chicken ordinances', which passed on first reading, it'd be a good idea to communicate your concerns to them sometime between now and June's second reading. I think that individuals on Council are still open to being persuaded by a reasoned argument. The version of the 'chicken ordinances' that passed on first reading (the version likely to pass on second reading) is one that cedes control of your backyard to your neighbor and requires giant setbacks of 40 feet from dwellings.

What follows isn't a reasoned argument meant to persuade--I'd have to pay extra to get that much vertical scrolling space from my webhosting service--it's just an observation. With respect to chickens, Chris Easthope and Leigh Greden are being completely consistent with their past service on Council. Leigh is merely extending his dislike of couches on front porches to chickens in backyards. With Leigh Greden you get 360 degrees of neighborhood protection.

As for Chris, it's worth noting that the people leading the Old West Side contingent against backyard chickens are my next-door neighbors, the same pair who led the charge against the DDA's Three Site Plan. So by making his support for the chicken ordinances contingent on the neighbor-approval provision [Ed. note: Based on a conversation on 23 May 2008 at the Washtenaw Dairy, Easthope's support of the chicken ordinance has never, in fact, been contingent on a neighbor-approval provision.], Chris is responding to the same constituency he placated three years ago, when he engineered a compromise on Council that scuttled the DDA's Three Site Plan. Chris is just extending his responsiveness to those who cry, "Not in my backyard!" to those who cry, "Not in my backyard ... or his backyard, either!"

permanent link 4 May 2008

(Tottering at the Ann Arbor Juggling Arts Festival)

Here's footage from Ann Arbor Juggling Arts Festival on 3 May 2008 at Wide World Sport Center, where Totter 2.0 made an appearance.

Steve Glauberman brought up the notion of a 'standing totter' during his totter ride over two years ago. That attempt is described briefly in the About section of this website. However, the folks at the Juggling Festival took the concept of a 'standing totter' to a whole 'nother level.

The Talks from the Juggling Festival will be published as they are transcribed. For now, enjoy the moving pictures.

permanent link 2 May 2008

(Has anyone seen Debra Power?)

Last Tuesday, I met Debra Power out at Barton Dam for a teeter totter ride. We decided to lug the teeter totter to the top of the dam, with the idea that we could create a photo illustration by blending two images of the totter together: one left-side-up-right-side-down with another left-side-down-right-side-up, so that the two totter images would form an 'X'. We needed a raised platform of some kind in order to get the range of motion for the totter that would yield the extreme angles to suggest a proper 'X'. The railings on Barton DamBarton Dam's catwalk seemed perfect.

Why an 'X'? The idea was to honor the middle letter of WXW, the Women's Exchange of Washtenaw, which is planning their launch as an organization next week:

Apropos of 'launch', in the middle of the Talk, Debra seemed to launch herself right off the end of the totter over the downstream side of the dam, which left me dangling over the pond side of the dam. I heard one big splash followed by lots of little splashing sounds, but by the time I managed to climb up the board back to the safety of the catwalk to look down below, Debra had disappeared.

That was really disappointing, because we weren't quite done with the Talk. After waiting around a while for her to appear on the surface, I concluded that Debra had reached her limit on the totter and just decided to bail mid-Talk and make a swim for it.

Of course, I could be wrong. Maybe it was an accident, and Debra could have benefited from a timely call to 911. But I'm almost certain I'm right. Certain enough that I'm not going to count this as a 'recordable injury' for the official Teeter Talk safety record. I won't be able to verify this myself, so it'd be great if one or more of the female readers of Teeter Talk could attend the WXW kickoff event on 7 May and confirm that Debra Power is still alive.

permanent link 23 April 2008


Some regular readers may have been led to believe by the 21 April posting that they would eventually be treated to an image of ArborUpdate commenter Parking Structure Dude! wearing a bunny suit for Teeter Talk. My intent was, uhh, to mislead, but also to entertain. I apologize--in case you were mis-led but were not entertained, and are now left bitter with disappointment.

You know what might cheer you up? Head up to Plymouth and visit some real bunnies at Midwest Rabbit Rescue and Re-home. The shelter is pretty easy to find and contact information for bunny visitation and volunteering is right there on the MRRR website.

Debbie T., who works with Midwest Rabbit Rescue and Re-home, teeter tottered with me last Sunday up at the rabbit shelter. She talked about what the organization needs, and what rabbits need. For my part, I just can't help myself, I talked about what I need. For example:

HD: Because that's basically what I need in an animal--an animal that will let me ... [read more]

permanent link 21 April 2008


A few months back, Parking Structure Dude! provided a public service in a comment left on ArborUpdate, which alerted the rabbit compostreadership of that blog to the possibility of free bunny poop in Plymouth.

While most people just quietly added 'bunny poop forager' to a profile of Parking Structure Dude! that already included 'Huron River fisher', I saw this as opportunity for a bunny adventure.

I set about convincing Parking Structure Dude! to don a bunny suit and ride the teeter totter next to the bunny compost depot up in Plymouth. So yesterday morning (Sunday), I hauled the totter 18 miles up to Plymouth where the Midwest Rabbit Rescue and Re-home makes its home, and went on an amazing ride.

As the photograph below shows, I piled a black plastic bag of bunny poop compost onto my totter rig for the return trip. That Talk is not yet ready for publication.

But what I learned from talking to some of the Midwest Rabbit folks--who were there at the shelter feeding, watering, and cleaning--is that they've got an important event coming up. permanent linkThey are one of 20 finalists in a national competition for a shelter make-over worth $900,000. The judges for that contest are visiting each of the finalists in person. If you haven't been to Plymouth recently, this is a good excuse to grab your kids and take a little bit of the morning off. Basic details:

Thursday, 24 April 2008
Kellogg Park
Plymouth, MI

The Midwest Rabbit website says there's going to be a marching band, Paws (Tigers mascot), balloons, a chance to put on bunny ears--in short it sounds like a fun time, even if what you're really after is a free bag of bunny poop.

permanent link 17 April 2008


Last weeks's totter ride with Stephen Smith reprised the sidewalk tottering theme first introduced during John Roos's ride.

Common to both jimmy raggett ann ashley parking structuresidewalk rides was that totter alum, Jimmy Raggett, happened to be riding past on his bicycle. For this most recent ride, his timing was particularly good, because he took the profile totter photograph, which I was having difficulty executing. The challenge was a self-timed camera and a few lanes of traffic to run across.

At least I did not have to whack a ball with a mallet while riding a bicycle across those traffic lanes. Subtract the traffic, and that's what you might find Jimmy doing on any given Sunday at 3:00pm at Elbel Field: bike polo. Be advised that exact times and location could vary from week to week.

permanent link 15 April 2008

(Dance Fundraiser)

A couple of weeks ago there was an opening at the Washington Street Gallery, which recently moved from one Ed Shaffran property (on Liberty Street) to another Shaffran property (on Main Street). At that opening, I ran into an alum of the totter, Peter Sparling.

Peter told me about a piece he's choreographing called Door to the River, which involves video backdrops taken of Barton Dam. Of course, when I heard 'dam' I immediately thought of Matt Naud's ride out in front of Argo Dam, and briefly thought that Peter and I had a dam in common. But Barton Dam and Argo Dam are different dams even if it's the same river. The piece Door to the River isn't scheduled to be performed until early next year.

If you'd like to talk to Peter about Door to the River before next year, here's one place you can probably find him in a talking mood:

2 May 2008, 7:00pm--11:00pm
Admission in advance: $40
Admission at the door: $50
Door leads not to a river, but to
113 1/2 West Liberty St.

Sensoiree is a fundraiser for the Dance Gallery Foundation, so advance tickets to Sensoiree can be purchased from the DGF. The evening includes a raffle of some pretty fine swag. You can supplement the raffle tickets you buy in advance at the event itself--after you size up the competition.

I attended the Sensoiree last year, and I can attest that it was a whole lot of fun to look down on the flow of people along Liberty Street from the space above West Side Book Shop, watching dance video projected onto a giant wall, snacking on pleasant food, sipping better wine than I usually drink, listening to a new acquaintance tell me he's got season tickets to U of M football games that he always gives away, which I'm welcome to if I just call him in advance ... where the hell did I put that guy's business card? Wish I had a system for organizing things like that.

permanent link 14 April 2008

(Ann Arbor Parking: Could You Be a Parking Nerd?)

In late September 2007 the Ann Arbor Downtown Development Authority (DDA) mounted parking counter signs on its parking structures, which indicate the number of open spaces. On 1 April 2008, the DDA augmented the physical signs with a web page summarizing available spots in each of the parking structures, refreshing that data once a minute. Sometime soon drivers can expect to have that same data available in a mobile-device-friendly format.

But let's focus for right now on the data already being published on the web by the DDA. If that data were aggregated, it could be plotted into graphs showing how parking space availability varies with time. Of course, the DDA is already doing that for their own internal study. But why should the DDA have all the fun? As a service to parking nerds in the general public, Brian Kerr has put together a script to collect the data on parking spot availability into a CSV file. And if you have read this far, you are a parking nerd. Sorry, but if you were not a parking nerd, you would have bailed back at the phrase, 'refreshing that data' in the previous paragraph.

It was Brian Kerr's CSV file that I used to create the graphs below, one graph per parking structure, so thanks to Brian for making it available. The y-axis for each graph is the number of spaces available in that structure. The x-axis is time, spanning about one week (click on each graph to get a larger image).

Because you are a parking nerd, you will be thinking, "Dude, what good are these graphs without knowing which structure goes with which graph?"

That's exactly the point: I'm not telling you which structure goes with which graph, because I'd like to give you a chance to test out just how nerdy a parking nerd you are.

Teeter Talk Task: Match the Graph with the Structure

What I will tell you is that graphs A-E correspond to these five Ann Arbor parking structures: Ann Ashley, 4th and Washington, Forest, Maynard, 4th and William.

Looking at these same graphs, the DDA's top parking nerd was able to nail 4 out of 5, and did it while balancing on a teeter totter. Embedded in Stephen Smith's Talk are the answers to this parking puzzle.

If you don't live in Ann Arbor, and you want to know where exactly these parking structures are located, have a look at the parking spot availability map that totter alum John Weise has created using DDA parking data. Have fun.

ann arbor parking data ann arbor parking data ann arbor parking data ann arbor parking data ann arbor parking data

NB: These graphs are unofficial. First, because they are based on data from Brian Kerr's scraped CSV file, not provided directly by the DDA. Second, it was me who put the graphs together. They are intended to be used for entertainment (drinking games, decorative borders of cubicles, and the like), not scientific or public policy purposes.

If you have taken your parking nerdiness to the whole 'nother level of parking scientist, and you want to wallow around in official DDA parking data, Stephen Smith indicated while teetering a willingness on the part of the DDA and Republic Parking to facilitate that kind of research. Here's one indication that's not just Teeter Talk. A few hours after I discussed with Stephen on the totter the idea of integrating some surface lots into the set of parking spot availability data published on the web, data for three surface lots was added to the set.

permanent link 10 April 2008

(Ann Arbor 4th of July Parade)

There are (at least) two areas in which Ypsilanti can claim bragging rights over Ann Arbor. One is snow removal. Another is the 4th of July Parade. A lot of Ann Arborites head out of town that weekend and have never even witnessed the parade. Reviewing the 2006 4th of July parade in Ann Arbor, I wrote:

And Larry Kestenbaum, whose County Clerkship isn't even up for election this cycle, walked the route resplendent in his adventurer's hat and waved vigorously to the crowd.

Simply by walking the route, wearing an adventurer's hat, and waving vigorously to the crowd, Larry put himself in the 90th percentile of all Ann Arbor parade entries in pure parade entertainment value. So there's no reason to feel intimidated.

But putting together even a modestly entertaining entry to the parade requires a little advance planning and effort. There's more than two months until the day of the parade. That's plenty of time to plan something special. So here's an invitation to anyone who's ever thought about putting an entry together, to finally follow through and help make Ann Arbor's 4th of July parade an event worth staying in town to see [PDF File]: Ann Arbor 4th of July parade application.

Worth noting is that there's a space on the application to indicate a preference to be slotted into the parade to facilitate participation in other localities' parades.

Personally, I'm imagining a parade entry called Totters of the American Revolution. I'm imagining pulling a fully-assembled Totter 2.0 along in the bike trailer, stopping, inviting someone from the crowed to help lift the totter off the trailer, parking it on the pavement, teetering up and down a few turns, then lifting it back onto the trailer, and continuing on the parade route.

permanent link 8 April 2008

(Active Transportation Challenge)

At last night's Ann Arbor City Council meeting, the City's Transportation Program Manager, Eli Cooper, gave a quick presentation on a national 2010 Active Transportation Campaign. Rails to Trails has challenged 40 different communities to advocate at the federal level for $50 million dollars each in additional expenditures on 'active transportation'. That's 2 billion bucks. Ann Arbor is one of these communities--although, as Eli stressed, our advocacy for additional expenditures does not include a planned literal conversion of railways to active transportation trails.

What impressed me more than the figure of 2 billion dollars was Eli's characterization of the measure of success: evidence of a modality shift. Data from the 2000 census summarizes Ann Arbor active transportation commuting habits this way:

If the 2010 census shows improvement in those numbers, it will help the case both locally and on the federal level that continued infrastructure investments in alternative transport are worth it.

permanent link 7 April 2008

(No Special Consent Required)

The teeter totter is only 12 feet long. That's shorter than the telephone pole in the image below. But the informational reach of Teeter Talk is longer than that telephone pole. One way it's made longer is through Twitter. Shaded text: postings of someone I follow on Twitter. Non-shaded text: my postings.

course flyer ann arbor telephone pole
Met @urbanoasis flyering in East Quad while walking down to pick up my mail
@MattH just dismounted from totter with spouse of @urbanoasis; he's in town for two days, and he's FLYERING??? maybe different @urbanoasis?
@homelessdave this was the @urbanoasis who's teaching on preservation this summer, just held a conference on suburbs
@MattH yep, that's the one. was he flyering for something Brandon Zwagerman is promoting?
d:homelessdave for his preservation course

The person denoted by @urbanoasis is alum of the totter, Dale Winling. That reference is to the title of his blog on urban planning. As the photo above shows, his course fliers could be found last week not only over at East Quad, but also on my side of town down the street from the Blind Pig. (Although Dale lives in Chicago, he's going to be teaching the course at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.)

One minor complaint. I'd say one flier per pole is plenty ... and my preference is to see them lined up perfectly plumb. But I don't mind 'em per se, and it's certainly not like anybody needs my permission to put them up. I think of fliers as evidence that something might be happening in Ann Arbor that's a scoach more interesting that the usual snackin' crumbs that fall out of my beard, so I'm glad to see the fliers. But I know people who think of stapling fliers to a telephone pole in the same way they think of taking a big steaming dump on someone's front porch.

As a favor to Dale, I took down these course fliers after photographing them, as well as any other course fliers I could find plastered throughout the Old West Side. Wouldn't want enrollment in the course to suffer on account of a perception of poor fliering etiquette.

As I understand the information on Wolverine Access, the course is open to UM students as well as non-students. Tuition amounts are not clear. But "no special consent is required," so you wouldn't need Dale's permission to take his course.

UP 402/696: Historic Preservation and Urban Conservation
Time: 3:00PM-6:00PM MW
Room: 2210 A&AB
Dates: 04/29/2008-06/16/2008
Instructor: Dale Winling

What do we do with old buildings? How can we plan for the existing built environment to serve the changing needs of cities? This course on preservation, adaptive reuse, and community revitalization will explore key issues and introduce important methods and techniques in planning, preservation and architecture. Through site-based and client-based projects, students will develop the practical skills that planners, architects and researchers use in professional projects. In addition, this course will critically consider the role of preservation in neighborhood revitalization, housing equity, and urban redevelopment.

permanent link 6 April 2008

(Curb Your Car: a new way to win a desktop totter)

Nancy Shore was working with SOS Community Services back when she rode the totter. Now she's directing the getDowntown program, and she's helping to spread desktop teeter totters to the masses ... the sustainably commuting masses, that is.

By way of brief background, readers of Teeter Talk who subscribe to the RSS feed are alerted from time to time of opportunities to win such desktop teeter totters from Teeter Talk. These desktop totters are handcrafted from Michigan-grown, Michigan-milled black walnut.

The getDowntown program is now providing an additional opportunity to win a desktop teeter totter. Next month is May, which is Curb Your Car Month in Ann Arbor, and Teeter Talk has donated a desktop teeter totter to the package of prizes to be awarded in connection with the Commuter Challenge. Here's how to get a shot at the desktop totter:

That's right, you'll have to do more than ride your bike to work one day in May to have a shot at the desktop totter. Fifteen points works out to three work weeks' worth of sustainable commuting that you'll have to log in order to qualify. If you win the desktop totter and you don't think it was totally worth the 15 sustainable commutes, I will haul you to work on my bicycle trailer (once).

permanent link 5 April 2008

(Skatepark Meeting Report)

I attended the meeting on the Skatepark at Abbot Elementary last week, jointly hosted by the City of Ann Arbor (Jeff Dehring) and the Skatepark Action ann arbor proposed skatepark locationCommittee (Trevor Staples and Dug Song). The aerial photo used as a visual aid at the meeting made me think of two other alums of the teeter totter, Peter Sparling, and Ed Vielmetti ... but first a bit about the meeting itself.

Among the concerns expressed by citizens were:

Having listened to some of these concerns, one father at the meeting posed the question:

Hey, what if this works?

Indeed, what if it works? If it works at the location sketched out on the visual aid--in the northwest corner of Veterans Park--it will mean that I'll have only a short bicycle ride from my house to a place where I could learn how to skate. aerial photo four vacuums

Recently a McKinley sign heralding "Commercial Development" has appeared across Dexter Road from the proposed skatepark location. But whatever happens in that location, it will probably always remind me of Peter Sparling.

For readers who remember details of Peter's Talk, the closeup view here should help make the connection. Let your eyes sweep over the whole image. Look for four of something. They're in a row.

Anyway, once that connection is made, it should instantly be apparent why this location also reminds me of Ed Vielmetti. If this isn't working for you, make sure everything is still plugged in ... sometimes indulging in free mental associations takes us so far afield that we pull the cord out of its socket.

permanent link 3 April 2008

(On Location at West Park Bandshell)

Conditions surrounding West Park Bandshell last week were swamp-like--probably due to the onset of the spring melt after a record-setting year for snowfall in Ann Arbor. The surrounding muck did not prevent Kate Bosher from taking time out of a brief visit to Ann Arbor from Chicago to ascend the bandshell stage for a teeter totter ride.

The good news for Ann Arborites is that Kate is coming back to Ann Arbor next month to help stage the following production, which is free and open to the public:

The Assemblywomen
Michigan Union, Ballroom
Saturday, 10 May 2008 4:45pm

Kate Bosher defended her Ph.D. thesis in Classics at the University of Michigan in spring 2006, and is currently on the tenure track as faculty at Northestern University. And after her Talk, Kate was kind enough to pass along a teeter-totter-related article from the JSTOR archives, which relates directly to her field and mine. Summarizing a publication about an ancient vase by Giuseppe Cultrera in Dioniso v, 1936, pp. 199-205, the American Journal of Archaeology, Vol. 42, No. 3. (Jul. - Sep., 1938), pp. 375-423 writes:

The scene on the reverse is of lesser importance and poorer technique ... The scene on the front of the vase is very interesting and is a masterpiece of drawing. It depicts a game of see-saw[emphasis added]. Standing on the central support is an old silen. At the right, upper end of the see-saw is a little man wearing a mask. He is shown as he bounces into the air off the board with extraordinary agility. At the opposite end of the board stands a woman on her tip-toe. Her features are of barbarian type ... The vase was probably manufactured in South Italy and is dated at the beginning of the fourth century B.C.

One way that our ride at the West Park Bandshell was different from that vase description is that Kate's features are not of 'barbarian type'. And although a third party did happen by and chat briefly, if he had horse's legs they were very well disguised, and in any case, he did not climb onto the central support. To see in what other ways, if any, Kate's ride was different, read Kate's Talk.

permanent link 1 April 2008

(Ann Arbor Chickens, not a joke)

Last Monday, on the occasion of his formal induction into the selective set of Distinguished University Professors at the University of Michigan, Geoff Eley delivered a lecture. Professor Eley organized his lecture around two questions:

1. How do we write the history of a great loss?
2. How do we establish a relationship of optimism to the future?

Although Professor Eley was discussing what I would call Big History, the same questions are, I think, relevant to Small History.

The great losses in Small History include occasions when a chicken house is burnt to the ground, like the one recently burned down chicken housetorched at 1960 S. Maple, Peter Beal's old place. The pile of charred rubble is visible in the background of the image here.

Regular Teeter Talk readers might remember that while tottering Peter shared his recollection of the last man allowed to keep chickens legally in the city of Ann Arbor--a City fire inspector who lived on Washington Street just around the corner from the totter. But Peter Beal is not that old. So legal city chickens are a part of our city's recent past.

I think that part of establishing a relationship of optimism to the future--with respect to chickens, anyway--is the prospect that in a few weeks from now, Steve Kunselman will be successful in winning the cooperation of his fellow councilmembers in passing an ordinance that would legalize the keeping of chickens in the city of Ann Arbor.

Proposed ordinance language currently under discussion includes permit requirements, extensive setbacks for coops, and codification of neighbor permission statements--the sort of bureaucratic approach that would make a suburban homeowners' association proud.

If Ann Arbor is not a suburb, but rather a core city as Mayor John Hieftje contends in the just-arrived April edition of The Ann Arbor Observer, then the simple, direct approach we should take is to allow people the freedom to keep a few city chickens--and let various existing ordinances govern any city neighborhood friction that might arise. I think anything else is a preemptive surrender to suburban busybody-ism.

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