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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July 2008 -- August 2008

permanent link 29 August 2008

(Michelle Obama)

It's been a quiet week on the teeter totter in my backyard. So a visit from Michelle Obama was just what I needed. But I didn't get a visit from Michelle Obama. Totter alums Nyima and Josh Funk  did, though. Holy crap! They were at the Democratic National Convention performing with Second City when Michelle Obama just happened to drop by, and started handing out hugs.

Stuff like that never happens to me.

But if it does, I can tell you one thing: I'm not going to try to run away from Michelle Obama like Nyima did. Check out the hold that the next First Lady has on Nyima's shoulder. The caption on that photo should read: "Squirm though she did, Nyima just couldn't escape the vise-like grip of the next First Lady." I'd put that caption right on there, except that formatting captions by hand in HTML takes more effort than this juvenile little joke of mine is worth.

And except for the fact that it would mean indulging in the political-wanker-speak "next First Lady". That's a way of saying, "I'm supporting Obama," without actually saying it. So I'm not gonna do it--wouldn't be prudent at this juncture to talk about this election as a foregone conclusion. Because the more we do that, the more Ann Arborites will just stay home, figuring that Ann Arbor will show a plurality for Obama. So it would be a shame if that plurality wasn't big enough to put Obama over the top for Michigan and Obama lost the overall election because of it.

A real shame. Because now that a totter alum has been hugged by Michelle Obama, a loss for Obama would mean my loss, too ... at a legitimate shot for only 3 degrees of separation from a sitting president.

That would really put Bill Clinton's participation in Teeter Talk in perspective. If you're keeping score, there's a multiplier for sitting presidents that on the 'Cool Kids Thermo-meter' [rhymes with 'teeter'], makes 3 degrees separated from a sitting president worth like 10 times as much as 1 degree from a former president.

permanent link 25 August 2008

(Burns Park and the Spring-loaded Totter: Dave Lowenschuss)

If any Teeter Talk reader is not sick to death of reading about my  potatoes, then they haven't been reading close enough, because I've been writing and talking about them almost non-stop. Mercifully, this is the last potato post of the season.

The image here depicts a potato dug up in the last harvest from my Project Grow plot. Go ahead, I dare you to say that doesn't look exactly like a little yellow ducky. If you put your ear right up to your computer screen you can hear it quack.

It's amazing enough that the potato looks like a ducky, but what's even more amazing is what that potato-duck foreshadowed: an on-location ride with Totter 2.0 in Burns Park, where there's a spring-loaded teeter totter with ducky shapes on the end. Here's a photo of what that looks like:

My teeter tottering partner in Burns Park last week was David Lowenschuss, and he revealed in the course of his Talk that he has some personal experience riding that spring-loaded teeter totter with his kids. Dave's Talk marked the sixth Dave-squared totter ride.

We covered a range of subjects besides that teeter totter (which is arguably not a teeter totter, but we leave that question aside for today). Among them are the 601 S. Forest proposed development, surviving Pfizer's departure, LinkedIn, and the upcoming Big House Big Heart 5K Run. And if you'd like to know why he spent the first few months of his undergraduate life at the University of Michigan looking for the boat docks, read Dave's Talk.

permanent link 19 August 2008

(Watch This)

I'm really tickled with the way this video about Teeter Talk turned out, which was shot and edited by Jo Mathis of the Ann Arbor News. I also really like that still photo shot by Leisa Thompson.

One bit of the video footage that requires clarification is the small white fluffy kitty cat in the window. I don't know why she's looking a little woozy, but (1) I did not ride her up and down on the teeter totter and (2) I did not run her through the pedal-powered laundry spinner. She's just naturally a little dizzy.

And if you examine the still photo closely, you'll see that my feet are not resting on anything. I'm just saying, if you try that at home, you'll find that's not as easy as it looks.

permanent link 19 August 2008

(Watch This)

I'm really tickled with the way this video about Teeter Talk turned out, which was shot and edited by Jo Mathis of the Ann Arbor News. I also really like that still photo shot by Leisa Thompson.

One bit of the video footage that requires clarification is the small white fluffy kitty cat in the window. I don't know why she's looking a little woozy, but (1) I did not ride her up and down on the teeter totter and (2) I did not run her through the pedal-powered laundry spinner. She's just naturally a little dizzy.

And if you examine the still photo closely, you'll see that my feet are not resting on anything. I'm just saying, if you try that at home, you'll find that's not as easy as it looks.

permanent link 18 August 2008

(Everything is Connected)

One of the themes of Stewart Nelson's Talk was that 'everything is connected'. How's this for connected: Stew's our walk in the woods father worked in the Argus Building making bomb sights during World War II. The following day, I tottered with Charity Nebbe, who currently works in the Argus Building hosting All Things Considered for Michigan Radio.

I wasn't aware of that connection when scheduling arrangments for tottering. So instead of tottering at the Argus Building, Charity and I met up in a setting a little more consistent with the theme of a book she's recently had published, called Our Walk in the Woods. Huron Dexter Metro Park isn't deep wilderness, but along the edges and on the river bank, it's pretty close to 'woods'. Charity brought her whole family, so the tottering fun was multiplied by a factor of four.

permanent link 17 August 2008

(They're not booing, they're chanting Stew, Stew, Stew!)

Recruitment of teeter totter riders is an ongoing challenge. It would be even more difficult if I listed out the next 100 people I'd like to ride with and set about coaxing the listees argus buildingonto the totter for a talk--with a deadline only six months in the future. My current pace would put me past that deadline by about a year and a half.

So my hat is off to Stewart Nelson, who accomplished that feat ... except that he didn't make anyone climb aboard a teeter totter in order to talk to him. As far as talking to a list of 100 key figures in and around the community, though--he managed that.

The list was part of an effort he made to make himself a better-informed candidate for the open City Council seat in Ward 2. As his Talk reveals, he also has deep family roots in Ward 5. His father worked in the Argus Building [cf. photo in which a branch obscures the building's name], which is right across Liberty Street from the totter.

To find out what his dad did there, who would be at the top of his list of world leaders to talk to, and to learn a bit about how candidate forums work over there in Ward 2, read Stew's Talk.

permanent link 16 August 2008

(Corn)

I planted a little stand of corn in front of my house, more as a symbolic effort than anything else. ear of corn But I was still hoping for a couple of nice ears at harvest time.

After her totter ride as she was leaving, Linda Diane Feldt suggested that with so few stalks it might be worth pollinating by hand to avoid rows with missing kernels. That I did.

This is the first ear off any of the stalks. I probably should have picked it earlier if I was planning to eat it fresh--it turned out a little dry and mealy. But it was nothing that a good slathering of butter and salt couldn't fix.

The important thing to note is that every row of kernels was complete. Thanks, LD.

permanent link 13 August 2008

(Bathgate)

Readers who appreciated the details of the Talk with Alpha Omega Newberry IV will remember that he traveled from Memphis to Ann Arbor with my brother, Kelly, who lives in Memphis. And all the way from Memphis comes this scan from Kelly, who was  hanging out at a Memphis Starbucks yesterday, a Tuesday--the weekday Starbucks has chosen to announce its next complimentary iTunes download card for some featured artist.

Teeter Talk readers would recognize that featured artist as Chris Bathgate, even without the name printed in all capital letters. It's a nationwide promotion, so by all means, head over to your nearest local Starbucks before 19 August (when it changes to a different artist) and snag yourself a free download of "Yes, I'm Cold" from Chris Bathgate.

Or listen to Chris Bathgate live right down the street:

Chris Bathgate
Blind Pig [Get there]
17 Sept 2008 8:00pm

If that time and venue don't suit you, there's plenty of occasions sooner and later when you can find him playing live around these parts.

permanent link 12 August 2008

(Lego my Tato)

Two items to report, unrelated to each other, and vaguely related to the totter. Yesterday I dug up 54 lbs potatoes from my Project Grow plot bringing the season total to 84 lbs. Origins of that enterprise can be traced to Royer Held and Eileen Spring.

And the Ann Arbor District Library has made image galleries available of the entries in its recent Lego Contest--one of which would make Paul Cousins proud.

Readers who peruse the advertising in the left sidebar of Teeter Talk will have already known all about that Lego Contest. And those same readers might have started wondering recently, "Is she really bringing her dog?!" Yeah, she is.

permanent link 8 August 2008

(St. Vincent de Paul Store)

There's thrift stores and then there's thrift stores. What makes the St. Vincent de Paul Store, next to the Broadway Bridge, a little different from many others is that directly helping those in need is a part of their mission. So Jennifer Hackett doesn't just think about how much cash she could sell those donated work books for, she also thinks about the guy who comes into the store in the wintertime, because he needs the boots to get his feet warm again. In her Talk, Jennifer describes it as maintaining a balance--and I don't think she was just pandering to the readership of website about teeter tottering.

... we need those people to come over here and to spend $1.50 or $15 or $25, so that the guy who is walking around in the wintertime with no socks on his feet, and holes in the soles of his shoes, that I can give him a pair of boots.

Or here's a different option to help the cause:

Firefly Club
Benefit for St. Vincent de Paul Store
Sun, 14 Sept 12pm-3pm
Music: Susan Chastain, Glenn Tucker, Annie Capps
Food: Susan Chastain
Cost: $35 (tickets available at St Vincent de Paul Store, Firefly Club, St. Thomas the Apostle Church)

permanent link 7 August 2008 (later)

(Ann Arborite in Beijing)

Who's Mitch Garner? He was mentioned by Tom Bourque when Tom tottered a couple of years ago. Mitch has made the trip from Ann Arbor to Beijing, and is keeping a blog about his experiences there for the Road Runners Club of America.

permanent link 7 August 2008 (later)

(Bag Sale)

In a departure from the usual practice of not tottering-and-telling until a Talk has been published, I'd like to report that Totter 2.0 was on location out in front of the St. Vincent de Paul St. Vincent de Paul Ann Arbor Store on Broadway St. yesterday.

The occasion was the 40th Anniversary of the store and the annual Bag Sale, which starts Friday, 8 August 10am-3pm and concludes the following day, Saturday, 9 August 10am-5pm.

The Bag Sale is not an opportunity to quarrel about paper versus plastic versus re-usable canvas bags. You buy a paper bag for $5, and whatever you can pack into the bag, that's what your $5 buys. The sign in the window announcing the sale shows that the paper grocery bags that the Bag Sale is based on are not the only things they re-use at the St. Vincent de Paul Store.

Today's post comes as a hedge against the possibility that I don't finish the transcription before the Bag Sale starts. [How to find the store]

permanent link 4 August 2008

(Patti Smith)

A fact that I hope is not lost to history is that Bruce Springsteen is one of our leading advocates of mass transit. Indeed, if Tennessee Williams' streetcar named Desire were less famous, then surely Springsteen's tram, Sly Gus, would not be as neglected as it is.

And that's not where Springsteen's advocacy for sustainable living stops. Decades ago, Springsteen was already a huge supporter of the local food movement. The first draft of Because the Night was co-authored with Patti Smith when the two of them were competing for gardening space with other interest groups who wanted it left as green lawns.

Because the Site

Plant me now, baby, here as I yam.
Plow me close, try and understand.

You are hungry, and the eyes you need,
Are not wearing glasses, but still you can see
Cuz they're in these potatoes, they're under this land.

The way I feel when you till this land!
Take my hand, come on row cover.
They can dirt-chew now, can dirt-chew now, can dirt-chew now-a-wow-a-wow-a-wow.

Because the site belongs to growers.
Because the site belongs to spuds.
Because the site belongs to growers.
Because the site belongs to us.

I tottered with Patti Smith last week out at the Project Grow site at Buhr Park.

permanent link 31 July 2008

(Life on Easy Street)

Here's a shot I took on the way to this week's on-location teeter totter ride. Easy easy street ann arborStreet has been discussed before on the totter--in connection with its proposed sidewalks, which are visible here (left side only) along with other street improvements that were added along with the sidewalk.

Tuesday morning is apparently trash collection day along Easy Street, as evidenced by the blue bins lined up in tidy, straight ranks.

I'm a supporter of the blue bins. I like them quite a lot--enough to talk about them on the totter. I think they're probably big enough to share. Here's a lyric in support of that sentiment:

Blue Bin Buddy

I don't wanna be your very best friend,
I just wanna share one trash bin,
Two half full bins makes me a little nutty,
So please won't you be my be my blue bin buddy?

Pie charts and bar graphs of all your fancy calculations,
Demonstrate the benefits of trash bin automation,
But I don't need to read no stinkin City-Council-funded study,
Please won't you be my be my blue bin buddy?

permanent link 30 July 2008

(Gee, Your Bag Smells Totter-iffic)

rotten banana

Symptoms included gnats in our house and a vaguely unpleasant odor that I eventually determined came from my oversized Chrome courier bag, which I use mostly to stow and haul gear for on-location totter rides. Prepping for yesterday's on-location ride, I felt a lump between the liner and the outer covering of the bag. Further investigation of the lump produced the object displayed above.

It started as a fresh banana. Yeah, I know: Eeewwww.

There's a velcro tab on the bag providing access to the space between the outer shell and the inner liner. I'd been using it to keep different items separate: like a tripod separate from a banana. What I've deduced is that I probably packed the banana for the ride on 20 April up to Plymouth to visit the bunnies. I packed a lot of fuel for that ride, so it wasn't hard to miss one banana.

permanent link 29 July 2008

(Why Movies Get Made in Ann Arbor)

In August's Ann Arbor Observer, there's an analysis of why movie production companies are choosing Michigan as a location to shoot their films. This analysis leaned heavily on the speculative theory that it is connected to reimbursement of production costs by the State of Michigan at a rate of around 40%.

It has to do with money?? Yeah, right. A little naive, if you ask me. Here's how I think it goes down. Production company staff read plot summaries in IMDB, and based on those summaries figure out the best geographic match for a shooting location, no matter how much it costs. For example, here in Ann Arbor, the first of three days of shooting for Youth in Revolt was completed yesterday ... three blocks away from my house, Teeter Totter Central. Think that's some random accident? I sure don't. Especially after reading the plot summary of Youth in Revolt.

permanent link 28 July 2008

(She Gave Him a Search-Engine-Optimized Glance ...)

For readers who have ever given this website a searching glance, I apologize. Up to now, the site-internal search tool had been restricted to just the Talks--that is, the conversations on the teeter totter. That search function is now afforded its own separate page, because it now covers everything, and comes in two flavors of results: (i) contextual snippets of every found instance of your search query, even when there are multiple instances in the same document--provided by PicoSearch (ii) single-snippet-per-page results like Google presents them--provided by Google.

If you're interested in getting a quick overview of how a topic has been treated on the totter, without having to slog through every Talk where it's been mentioned, give PicoSearch a try. If you're trying to find something that could just as well be anywhere on the site as it is embedded in a Talk, then try Google. Teeter Talk Search

permanent link 25 July 2008

(Hail to the Victuals Valiant)


Out at my Project Grow gardening plot, I set out potato plants of different kinds at different times this spring. Over the last week or so, the first of the plants had begun to wilt and turn yellow. Thanks to Royer Held's potato class, which I took last year at the Leslie Science Center, I recognized this as indicators of fully-formed potatoes underground.

The yield from that corner of the plot was 30 lbs, evenly distributed across yellow (maize) and blue--hence the headline.

The bigger ones, I bagged up in two plastic grocery bags and carted up to Eileen Spring's Food Gatherers north of town, where they were weighed: 19 lbs credited to Project Grow.

permanent link 24 July 2008

(Jeremy and Jeremy from AT&T: new choice for Internet and TV)

When strangers knock on my door (soliciting donations, collecting signatures, selling something, etc.) I almost always return their pitch with a pitch of my own: Would you like to go on a teeter totter ride with me? Until two weeks ago, the only person who had taken me up on that offer was Pete J.

two at&t guys on a teeter totter Then Jeremy Nettles knocked on my door. I talked to him long enough about the new AT&T internet and TV option (plus teeter tottering) that his work partner, Jeremy Keck, had completed all of his conversations with neighbors and stopped back by to meet up with him before Nettles had left my front sidewalk. Perfect. Now I had an audience of two people to pitch.

Many people say, No, to a teeter totter ride by saying they might come back for a ride sometime. That's what Jeremy and Jeremy said, too.

But they actually came back a couple of days later!! rotary park livonia What a spectacular evening that was to score two bonus unscheduled totter rides. Even better than that, a few days after their rides the Jeremys brought another buddy of theirs back to enjoy a ride. For that visit, I was at home, but laid out horizontal--stiff as a teeter tottering board--in a Flexoril haze as a result of a back injury. So I can't tell you what that guy's name was. From the cheerful noises coming from the backyard through the upstairs window, though, I think they had fun. And it's worth thanking them again for moving the span of Totter 2.0 out of the driveway, where I had let it fall after wrenching my back.

The image included here from MSN's Bird's Eye View mapping tool of Rotary Park on 6 Mile and Merriman shows that things might have changed a bit from the time that Jeremy and Jeremy were just kids. To understand how, read their Talks.

permanent link 23 July 2008

(Housekeeping)

A couple of new ways to get an overview of who's talked on the totter:

1. complete set of tottering portraits
2. a special subset of tottering portraits

permanent link 22 July 2008

(Ambassador)

Jeff Gaynor is an ambassador of bikes, buses, good will and good humor. An excerpt from his Talk:

And my girlfriend said, Jeff, do what he says, he's got a gun.

Read Jeff Gaynor's Talk in its entirety.

permanent link 21 July 2008

(Dave to the Front End for Bagging Assistance)

Ann Arbor's City Council is considering an ordinance tonight that would make it illegal for retailers grossing more than $1,000,000 in sales to provide plastic bags to their customers at the point of sale.

Among the issues councilmembers have likely not considered in their contemplation of this issue is the possible impact on how our local young people meet and fall in love. It's not obvious whether the impact will be positive or negative, but Ingrid and Cliff's experience suggests that there could be some kind of effect.

permanent link 16 July 2008

(Not a Recordable Injury)

On Tuesday morning I was loading Totter 2.0 onto the bicycle trailer. There was not adequate clearance between the trailer and our car, so I attempted the following maneuver: whilst holding the main span of Totter 2.0, I reached with my foot to the rear end of the trailer and tried to depress it, thus to cause the tow bar on the trailer's front end to teeter clear of the ground so that it would roll forward the three feet required to get adequate clearance.

On this maneuver I scored an epic Fail. Before completing it, I wrenched my back. By 'wrench' I mean that my lower back felt as if a giant fiery hand had grabbed hold of it.

Long story short, I'm on the slow road to recovery and will resume tottering when healing is complete. If this kind of incident had happened on the totter, it would have to be logged against the totter's safety record as a recordable injury. But it did not, so that counter will stay at zero.

If there were a counter for good deeds done for the totter, the it would have to be incremented by plus one for Jeremy Nettles and Jeremy Keck, two guys you'll meet sometime soon--because their transcripts are two of three sitting in the queue. I told them that their status as alumni of the totter entitled them to stop back by any time they liked. The time they liked was Tuesday evening. Which was lucky, because they were able to move Totter 2.0 and the trailer out of the driveway so that my wife could drive the car to work on Wednesday.

I'm going back to making low-grade, old-man groaning noises.

permanent link 15 July 2008

(Weeds)

One thing I've tried to do over the course of what are now over 150 teeter totter rides is allow the people I ride with to have an impact on my own life. So readers who enjoyed Linda Diane Feldt's Talk salad spinner weedsmight recognize the ingredients of a salad I prepared recently: plantain, wood sorrel, dandelion. I threw in some conventional ingredients--like lettuce--because I just wanted to dip a toe into this weed-eating business, before jumping in with both feet.

Last Sunday, Linda Diane jumped into the Huron River with both feet plus the rest of her when she swam a mile in Baseline Lake, an event sponsored by the Huron River Watershed Council, whose logo you'll find sitting in the left sidebar of Teeter Talk as an advertising sponsor.

If your idea of enjoying the Mighty Huron is not so much to jump in and swim a mile in it, but more like to sit beside it, and drink a beer, while listening to the Great Lakes Myth Society playing live music just for you, then for heaven's sake have a look at the left sidebar.

permanent link 14 July 2008

(Dam)

Across the road from the Dexter A&W (coney dogs, yum) and from Mill Creek dexter dam Sporting Goods (night-crawers, yum) there was--until a couple of weeks ago--an unpleasant body of water filled in with silt and overgrown with cattails, which served as Samuel Dexter's mill pond back in the olden days.

It was from Matt Naud, while tottering in front of Argo Dam, that I first heard about the plan to remove the dam in Dexter, which created the mill pond. That plan has been executed now, and the Mill Creek is flowing free, as the photo here shows. dexter dam bridge

Last Thursday, I had a chance to teeter totter with one of the people who helped make that happen, Paul Cousins. Paul is connected enough with the construction crew rebuilding the bridge that for our ride we were able to position the totter right next to the unobstructed creek.

Over the sound of the rushing water, we managed to converse on a range of topics, from the dam removal, to Gordon Hall, to the longevity of marriage, to the storm the night before, to the outside possibility of riding the teeter totter with the King of Sweden.

This USGS flow rate graph for Mill Creek reflects the night of heavy rain before the morning of our dexter dam bridge totter ride on 3 July.

If you're a flow-rate geek, you probably already know about the USGS online resources for real time flow rates for various river and streams. If not, then you should know that following that link will allow you to create custom graphs and charts like this one for other time periods or other bodies of water.

But right now, instead of making yourself a graph of some random stream's flow rate, I'd like you to read Paul Cousin's Talk. You'll see that I'm not kidding about the King of Sweden. Seriously. Go read it now.

permanent link 8 July 2008

(From Kansas to Michigan)

There's a house for sale on my street. for sale sign ann arbor So when Colleen Zimmerman visited my backyard, and revealed right there on the totter that she and her husband were in the market for a house to buy in Ann Arbor, I figured I'd pitch her as hard as I could the idea of buying that house.

Now, I don't want just anybody moving onto my street. But Colleen just instantly struck me as the kind of person who'd make a great addition to any street, especially mine. If she doesn't wind up living on my street, she could wind up living on yours.

In which case, you'll want to go ahead and read her Talk so that you're up to speed on what she's all about. Here's a smattering: two beagles, a son deploying to Iraq for the second time, keen observer of parking availability downtown, KU Jayhawk fan, frequent traveler.

Based on Colleen's Talk, it probably won't sound like Colleen and her husband are likely to end up living in the house that's for sale on my street. But a couple of days after she rode the totter, the For Sale sign on my street was adorned with the Sale Pending placard shown in the photo. I'm just sayin'.

permanent link 4 July 2008

(Totters of the American Revolution Redux)

Recently when I tottered with Gary Salton, we talked a bit about the web cam he has trained on the U of M Diag at the intersection of North University Ave. and State St. Gary encouraged the capture of the images from the web cam. (Thanks, Gary!) Here's what the Totters of the American Revolution looked like from high above the parade this morning:

Ann Arbor 4th of July Parade

permanent link 1 July 2008

(Totters of the American Revolution)

The 4th of July parade in downtown Ann Arbor will include Totter 2.0 hauled by bicycle trailer. I've reviewed the Flag Code for proper flag protocol, but teeter totters are not explicitly mentioned. So I will rely mostly on plain good judgment in arranging the Union Jack and Old Glory for display on their respective ends of the totter. If there's a reader with some relevant expertise, I'd sure appreciate a heads-up before the parade.

The blame (or credit) for the title of the parade entry belongs to Zach London, who this morning once again delivered on his commitment to write and record a new song every month ... until he dies.

Based on the rides currently pending, the publication of Talks will continue apace after the 4th.


TT Log Archives

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2008July, August
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