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June 2008 Archive

permanent link 26 June 2008

(Greek Vases Re-Visited)

Soon after her totter ride, Kate Bosher followed up by sending along a description of teeter tottering depicted on an ancient Greek vase from a 1938 issue of the American Journal of Archaeology. She's now managed to track down images of the actual vase with that depiction. Thanks, Kate.

What these images reveal is ... holy crap, look at that. It's Totter 2.0!! Right there on that 2400-year-old vase!! Below the overview of the whole vase are three close-ups of the principle parties on the totter. The detail is fine enough that one might entertain the possibility of re-enacting that scene live, say in the middle of the U of M Diag. Depending on who played the role of the guy in the middle, it could really liven up Ann Arbor's summer. Nothing livens up a dead pants scene better than a guy with no pants.

[Ed. note: The appropriate attribution for the images was originally omitted due to lack of diligence on the blogger's part. Here it is: Giuseppe Cultrera (1936) "Cratere con scena fliacica di giuoco d'altalena," Dioniso: Bollettino dell'Istituto Nazionale del Dramma Antico, V: 199-205.]

greek vase

greek vase greek vase greek vase

permanent link 25 June 2008

(The Plot Thickens)

The chicken ordinance passed by Ann Arbor City Council requires a 40-foot setback from dwellings and a 10-foot setback from property lines, as well as written permission from adjoining property owners. ann arbor chicken ordinance Based on the eyeball standard, I'd been working from the assumption that I needed to lobby Council to relax the setbacks as well as the neighbor permission requirement, in order to keep 4 hens in my backyard.

However, a City staffer forwarded to me the output from the City's GIS system as it relates to setbacks and my plot. It's apparent that for 330, the green-shaded area meets the required setbacks.

The lines and shading obscure it in the image, but the allowed area for chickens in my backyard is intimately proximate to the teeter totter. Which could entail a difficult choice between chickens and tottering.

Incidentally, based on a conversation with Matt Naud, the 40-foot circles and 10-foot setbacks can be auto-generated with the City's GIS system--for all the plots in one go.

permanent link 23 June 2008

(Safety Second)

Totter 2.0 was made available to the participants of Ann Arbor Startup Weekend. Most people had a good time on the totter. Some people had too good a time on the totter. I didn't spend any time at all on the totter. I put my effort into collaborating on starting a concern we're calling Exploded View. More on that in the future.

permanent link 19 June 2008

(How it Feldt to Ride the Totter)

When Linda Diane Feldt agreed to come over to the backyard and help identify useful weeds, I was thrilled weedsto have an excuse to leave the backyard in its then unkempt condition. It's not like I ever keep it exactly 'manicured', but when tottering guests come over for a ride, I try to tidy up a bit. Not this time (cf. included photo).

When you read Linda Diane's Talk, you'll be treated to her observations of the useful (and even sometimes edible) weeds she was able to spot from her end of the totter. You'll also be treated to photographs of the same.

Plus, you'll get to hear about her reflections on her time as the President of the Board of the People's Food Co-op, her canoe trip down the Huron all the way to Lake Erie, cheese-making, bee-keeping, dogs peeing, and a (to me) novel use of the word 'parking'. I think you should read all the Talks, of course, but if you haven't actually read one in a while, or if you've never actually read through one, Linda Diane's Talk is perfect to start with.

permanent link 17 June 2008

(UM Housing Database Clarification)

A few Teeter Talk readers felt some clarification was warranted of a conversational thread in a recent Talk. During her Talk, Julia Lipman and I wondered how exactly a University of Michigan faculty housing database worked, which she had reluctantly used.

JL: ... I actually used the U of M faculty site, which kind of goes against my principles, using a site that is closed off.

HD: Really! So if you are U of M faculty you have access to a special set of listings?

JL: Oh, yeah!

HD: How do landlords get their stuff listed there?

JL: I don't know. But my landlords were faculty. And this kind of goes against everything I say, because there's like one market for students and one for everyone else. But I had two weeks to find a place, I thought I was only staying until December, so I wanted a four-month lease ...

HD: ... So back to this listing, then. So there is this magic listing that the University maintains? It's like University servers that they maintain this on?

JL: Yeah. And you know, you're not allowed to discriminate on the basis of source of income when you rent, I wouldn't think. So I don't know how that works.

How that works, I've learned, is this. There is, in fact, a database of housing opportunities accessible only to UM Faculty: Faculty and Staff Referral Listings. It's not accidental that Julia's landlords were also faculty. Listings eligible for inclusion in that database must be primary residences of those with UM Faculty affiliation. That is, according to the UM Off-Campus Housing website, "Dwellings used for income purposes (rental properties) are not eligible to be listed."

The database is designed "to assist newly appointed and visiting University of Michigan faculty and staff locate housing during their stay here, while at the same time assisting faculty and staff members from the Ann Arbor campus who wish to rent, share, or exchange their primary residence while on leaves of absence, sabbaticals, or extended vacations ... " A different database of rental properties that are owned and managed as income-producing properties is available to students.

In an email describing the criteria for listings in the databases corresponding to the two different markets, Peter Logan, Director of Housing Communications, noted that the kind of faculty referral service offered by the U of M is common on many campuses. And he offered his own experience growing up in a faculty family to illustrate:

When my father took the family on sabbatical, he would rent our home to a visiting faculty or staff member for the year ... the rent covering no more than the cost of mortgage and average basic utilities for the year. (And my father, bless him, probably low-balled the average utilities.) We also threw in the family dachshund as part of the arrangement, and it relieved us greatly that Snorkel would be cared for in his own home while we were away.

While Snorkel might have added value to the proposition for potential renters--or at least not diminished it terribly--I wonder how a housing arrangement would fare in the Referral Service listings if it included 3 backyard hens.

permanent link 13 June 2008

(StartUp Weekend and Totter 2.0)

Next weekend (20-22 June) a bunch of people with no preset agenda, many of whom don't even know each other, will gather in some temporary space provided by McKinley, where they'll practically LIVE for the better part of three days, while they WORK through a variety of different ideas for creating viable companies that could become permanent fixtures in Ann Arbor's economy.

There'll likely be some people there who have a killer idea to SHOP around, and others who are just there to push other people's ideas along. Either way the event is open to anyone who pays the $40.00 registration fee.

When I first heard the StartUp Weekend concept it sounded to me like "Say! My dad has a barn. Let's put on a show!" I mean, seriously. Start some company or other in a weekend?? The chances I was going to plunk down $40.00 for that were almost zero. I measure dollar amounts in what I get for hauling loads on my bicycle trailer. And $40.00 works out to be four how to build a teeter tottertrips hauling a total of a few hundred pounds over a distance of 3-4 miles. So that's a lot of money to me, based on what I do to earn it.

And yet I've registered for StartUp Weekend. Why? Because on reflection, I was able to identify the one missing ingredient that could make this event a success: PLAY. So Totter 2.0 will be there for the duration. Just available for whoever wants to ride. I'm not planning to record Talks during this event. I'm not even planning to totter--I get plenty of opportunity to ride as it is. Totter 2.0 will just be there for anyone wants to take advantage.

If you're not into teeter tottering, you still might consider registering--even if you don't recognize yourself in the list of possible categories you can register under. I found that list intimidating. There are four different kinds of software developer, for heaven's sake. Not me. Legal expertise? Not me. Management? Not me. I couldn't find me anywhere on the list ... except for Public Relations. I figure I'm the first part of that--the public. You'll probably be able to find yourself somewhere on the list, too, even if it's not what you do in your day job. And it really doesn't matter what category you choose. Nobody at StartUp Weekend is going to expect you to have all the relevant expertise in that category as it relates to starting up a company. If they do, then dammit, I'll take them on a totter ride they won't forget.

The idea here is to learn the mechanics of starting up a company, by going through the exercise of starting one up. If you've got no idea how to start up a company, then this is exactly where you should be from 20-22 June.

permanent link 12 June 2008

(On the Texture of Place)

GoogleMaps has rolled out Street View functionality for the Ann Arbor area. My house, the home of the totter is not hard to identify, even though the addresses given for Mulholland are inaccurate. Addresses for Mulholland Ave. have always been wrong in GoogleMaps, so this inaccuracy was not introduced by Street View.

Online speculation on the question of when the photographic imagery was collected has centered on gas prices, movie theater marquees, and angles of the sun. This is the kind of information that can be verified against various publicly available sources, so it's only natural that this is the kind of information to which online commenters have appealed. It's 'only natural' because the point is not just to get the answer right (When were the images collected?), but to convince other people that the answer is, in fact, right. So the evidence has to be independently verifiable by other people.

What's more interesting to me than convincing others that the answer is right, is noticing the more intimate indicators of specific times in the imagery. What's delightful to me are those subtle indicators of chronology, deeply embedded in the texture of a place, which would be missed completely by someone who didn't know that they were looking at. If you know what you're looking at, and it provides a definitive chronology that convinces you, it doesn't matter that most people don't have a clue they're looking at evidence that might convince them, if they only knew.

Regular, dedicated readers of Teeter Talk aren't 'most people' so they might know what they're looking at in the GoogleMaps Street View shot below, even without the giant pink arrow. [As in previous posts, the giant pink arrow is drawn in. There's not an actual giant pink arrow in the scene.] GoogleMaps Street View

If you are a regular reader, but you've just forgotten about a certain special pumpkin, let that link serve as a reminder. And yeah, based on that blog entry, early to mid October seems just about right for the image collecting.

permanent link 11 June 2008

(I am not a frickin genius)

The photograph from yesterday with the giant pink arrow drawn in was actually saved from a web cam owned by Professional Communications, Inc. They have some sweet space in the second story of Nickels Arcade overlooking State Street and the University of Michigan Diag.

It was a real treat to teeter last week in that space with Gary Salton, CEO and Chief of Research for Professional Communications. His colleagues, iopt gridShannon and Esther, were able to join in some of the tottering fun. Some of the conversation centered around I OPT, which is a set of tools they've developed for analyzing how people process information. One of the results they're able to generate from the 24-item survey instrument is a plot of preferences for different information-processing styles. That's mine presented here.

Whenever I sit down to complete a survey instrument, I always hope that the first line in the report is, "Dave, you are a Frickin Genius!" But it turns out that there is no FG style of information-processing in the I OPT scheme of things. It's not a measure of how smart you are. It just tells you how you seem to prefer to process information. Which is probably a good thing. Because as much as I crave the FG label, I'd probably wind up with CD.

The Talk gives an overview of the basic characteristics of the information-processing styles, or alternatively there's this presentation for readers who prefer their information in video format.

Gary's Talk ranges over plenty of other subjects beyond the I OPT survey instrument. Among them are creative uses for the web cam, candy dishes in the work place, accidents in the work place, accidents on the totter, good places to eat along State Street, the the mechanics of marriage, and Descended from Thieves. What it's really worth reading for, in my opinion, is that Gary makes an offer that I think would really inject some excitement into this season's City Council election campaigns, which are beginning to take shape, if yard signs are an indication. For details of that offer, read Gary Salton's Talk.

permanent link 10 June 2008

(What's This?)

Think of this image as a preview of the next Talk in the transcription queue. Ann Arborites who know their city should be able to identify this general location without too much mental strain.

Apologies, though, for the optical strain required to make out what it is that big giant pink arrow is ann arbor web campointing at. Just to be clear, I drew in the big giant pink arrow. That's not a part of the original photograph.

As you process the visual information at the tip of the arrow and try to discern what it is, you might adopt any one of several strategies. You might just start guessing: Is it a bunny? Is it a chicken? How about a bunny? Is it a hamster? Is it a teeter totter? Is it bunnies on a teeter totter? Is it a Ninja Warrior? How about a bunny?

Or you might say, Well, based on past life experience, that black bar at the top of an image sometimes contains information identifying the contents of the image, and this one says, "I OPT", so I think the arrow is pointing at something related to "I OPT" ... whatever that is.

Or you might decide that the best approach is to run that part of the image against a database of known images and optimize your matching algorithm for the stuff that I like, and let your answer be guided by the outcome of that analysis.

Or, finally, you might find it more interesting to write a short story called "Elmo and the Spy Cam Kiosk" that relates everything in the photo to what the arrow is pointing at.

In any case, if you think about what style you might use to process that information, you'll be ready to read the next Talk. By the way, what the arrow is pointing at is me standing next to the bike trailer. From left to right, there's the bike lying on the ground, the trailer with a stack of white post office tubs, two stacks of blue tubs, the white sign on the rear of the trailer, and me.

permanent link 9 June 2008

(Rambow Redux)

Back when Russ Collins, Director of the Michigan Theater, took his turn on the totter last year, he mentioned having seen a film at the Sundance Film Festival that he especially like called Son of Rambow.

Feel like you've read this before? You have. Back on 4 June, I alerted Teeter Talk readers to the final two days of that film's run at the Michigan Theater.

It turns out that it will be continuing its downtown Ann Arbor run at the State Theater, which has some kind of relationship with the Michigan, the nature of which isn't germane to this post. Whereas before, I simply wanted to alert readers to an entertainment possibility, having now seen Son of Rambow, I want to urge you to go see Son of Rambow. Why? Because it turns out that it contains images of my two favorite things in life. It's as if the director said, You know what, let's throw in some stuff that Dave will like. It's playing at 7pm and 9:15pm every evening through Thursday, 12 June.

permanent link 6 June 2008

(Put Canoeing on Your Calendar)

Dave Hall, Race Coordinator for the Huron River Canoe Challenge, reports that alum of the teeter totter, Mark Bialek, will be one of the racers at this event. So mark your calendar:

Huron River Canoe Challenge
Sat, June 21st
Gallup Park

The Huron River Canoe Challenge is presented in part by the Huron River Watershed Council, headed by Laura Rubin, and includes professional races, as well as a Fun Race open to the public.

The Fun Race for the public is free of charge. Gallup Canoe Livery will offer a special 2-hour canoe rental for $10.00 for anyone wishing to rent a canoe for this event. The public race will begin with a mass start at Noon near the picnic shelters and will feature 2 small laps on Geddes Pond.

I can't think of a better way for a bunch of picnicking bloggers to get to know each other better than piling two-by-two into long skinny boats and paddling like crazy around in circles.

permanent link 5 June 2008

(A3C Green Roof Redux)

Last Monday night, I headed down at council chambers for the City Council meeting for reasons that are not the subject of this post.

Standing around chatting with Matt Naud before the meeting, I was telling him about tottering with Dan Jacobs on top of the A3C green roof, when my eye fell on a guy seated in one of the front benches, who looked an awful lot like Dan Jacobs. But it was hard for me to tell. This happens more often than I'd like to admit, but if I first meet someone sitting astride a 12-foot board on the opposite end from them, I sometimes don't recognize them out of that context.

It turned out it was Dan. He was there to receive an award from the City recognizing the efforts of A3C in the green renovation of their downtown Ann Arbor Building.

permanent link 4 June 2008

(Son of Rambow)

Back when Russ Collins, Director of the Michigan Theater, took his turn on the totter last year, he mentioned having seen a film at the Sundance Film Festival that he especially like called Son of Rambow. There's today and tomorrow left in its run at the Michigan Theater:

Son of Rambow 7:00 & 9:15 Wednesday June 4
Son of Rambow 7:00 & 9:15 Thursday June 5

permanent link 2 June 2008

(Rooftop Totter)

Last week was a real tottering treat for me, because I got a chance to go up onto a downtown Ann Arbor rooftop and a3c green roofteeter with Dan Jacobs of A3C Collaborative Architecture.

The photo included here was taken from my seat on the totter. It's obviously not an average downtown Ann Arbor rooftop.

Regular Teeter Talk readers might recognize that this is a green roof--the kind of system that Liza Wallis talked about when she visited the backyard totter. Dan and I discussed everything depicted in the photo and how it all works, and more. And this Talk will, I hope, finally silence critics who say that conversations on a teeter totter must surely be superficial and shallow. All I'm saying is, Dan's Talk has 400 feet of depth.

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