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September 2006 -- November 2006 Permanent Archive
28 November 2006 (Recycling, Downcycling and the Spin Cycle)
I put an ad on CraigsList a few weeks ago requesting a broken top-loading washing machine. Within hours, an email arrived with exactly the message I was hoping for: we have a broken washing machine; haul it away and it's free. My goal was to cobble together a pedal-powered laundry spinner incorporating my stationary bicycle trainer. This DIY project was inspired by a desire to improve on the wringer bolted to the end of my hand-cranked washer. In the the interest of brevity, I've supplied some photos in lieu of the whole back-history of clothes washing in our household. In any case, measuring my recycling of this old washing machine against the metric outlined in the book Cradle to Cradle, I concluded that this effort should probably be assessed as 'less bad' downcycling rather than true recycling. Although I took some consolation in the fact that hand-cranking the clothes clean and pedaling them practically dry costs no energy other than my own muscle power, I was feeling a bit down after paging through the first chapter or so of Cradle to Cradle. So I was looking for some encouragement from Tracy Artley, the Recycling Coordinator for the University of Michigan, when she stopped by for a totter ride. And she provided exactly that.
21 November 2006 (Faceoff)
Steve Kunselman is the newly-elected Councilmember from the 3rd Ward on Ann Arbor City Council. He's credentialed with a degree in urban planning, has served on the Planning Commission, and works for the University of Michigan as an Energy Liaison. So Steve Kunselman is not a name you would expect to read in connection with Elton John or Dorothy Hamill. Unless you're reading Teeter Talk.
After the totter ride, Kunselman invited me over to his place the next day for a game of box hockey. Box hockey is described in Kunselman's Teeter Talk. Here's a picture:
And here's the box score, which reflects that SK doesn't pull any punches just to be polite, which is part of what I like about him:
SK: 5 | HD: 0
SK: 5 | HD: 1
And here's proof that Steve wasn't just making up that part about skateboarding in his youth:
[Ann Arbor News, 23 April 1979]
21 November 2006 (Neighbor for a Year)
Back at the beginning of October, after the block party, I tried unsuccessfully to herd my neighbors down to the Old Town to hear Chris Bathgate play. A bunch of folks who know me really well said something like, Uh, yeah, um, Dave, maybe we'll see you down there later. The only guy to actually show up and share a beer with me was Doug Husak, who doesn't really know me very well at all. Apparently, nobody at the block party warned him off. Anyway, he and his wife, Linda, are living here for Doug's year as a visiting professor at the University of Michigan Law School. I figured if he was game enough to walk down the street to a bar, he might be game enough to ride a teeter totter. And he was.
9 November 2006 (Film)
A leading principle of the blog component of Teeter Talk (i.e., this part right here) is that the content should be, at least tangentially, tied to the teeter totter. In most cases, the tie-in to the totter is pretty transparent. For today's entry, that connection is a little murky just yet. For now, here's a little movie you can watch on line.
Oh, and speaking movies, the Ann Arbor Film Festival is hosting a fundraiser at the Michigan Theater on Wednesday, 15 November. Based on the information on the website, it looks like 20 bucks gets you in the door for snacks and beverage, a forum that includes some of the filmmakers who provoked the ire of some of our state legislators, a 'silent' auction involving very cool swag from various celebrities, and the crown jewel of the evening, a screening of the film "This Film not yet Rated."
Top Ten Reasons to Attend the AAFF Fundraiser:
10. Architectural wonder of the historic Michigan Theater.
9. A chance to infuse downtown Ann Arbor with weeknight activity.
8. Next new episode of LOST is not until February!
7. Any Festival that has screened the film 'Boobie Girl' deserves our, um, support.
6. New City Council members don't have their first Meeting until 20 November.
5. Silent Auction a great chance to get some holiday shopping done.
4. Chance to ask MT Director Russ Collins about his nutty uncle, Tom.
3. Chance to do a wardrobe-hook check in the Michigan Theater bathrooms.
2. Ride up and down on the pipe-organ during the Silent Auction.
1. Find out what Christen McArdle had to eat at the Crain's Detroit "20 in their 20's" awards dinner.
4 November 2006 (Mayor Hieftje)
What I learned waiting for John Hieftje to arrive (which he did punctually ... on his bicycle--it's not just talk) was that the mayor has a strong resemblance to Dan Del Zoppo of Dan Del Zoppo Electric, who was walking up the street right around that time. I started to wave and then tried to take it back, but it was already too late, which made me feel like I owed Dan an explanation: I was expecting the mayor to come by for a teeter totter ride in my backyard and he looked like the mayor. I don't think Dan was really buying it, which was not helped by my neighbor yelling from her front porch something like, Don't mind him, he does this every day, sits on his front porch and tells people walking by that the mayor is coming to visit him! So then I thought, Maybe Dan would like to know that the future Mayor of Ypsilanti had come by earlier in the week and that he knew Faraday's Law off the top of his head. I figured that would impress Dan, what with Dan being an electrician. Well, Dan was impressed, but he was looking for an exit strategy, and I have to say, I don't really blame him.
Anyway after the mayoral teeter totter ride, John humored me by navigating down the precarious basement stairs to inspect my Amish hand-cranked washing machine plus the pedal-powered laundry spinner I've built. More on the pedal-powered laundry spinner at some future date. For now, in response to anyone who might say that John Hieftje needs to lighten up, I'd say this: But then I couldn't balance perfectly with him on a teeter totter.
3 November 2006 (Sky View)
Over on ArborUpdate, Larry Kestenbaum has posted a link to WashtenawVotes. When you type in your address, the website returns all of your specific polling place information, including a nice aerial photograph of your polling place with a street-map-labeled overlay. Though not intended for entertainment purposes, it's possible to navigate around the aerial view and to zoom in quite dramatically to reveal an astonishing level of detail. Based on the age of the teeter totter, the shots below demonstrate that the imagery used is no more than two years old.
2 November 2006 (Errata)
Jane Lumm sent a friendly email to Teeter Talk pointing out that her run for mayor was in 2004, not 2000, as I supposed while talking to Tom Wall. So here's the breakdown of Republican (at the time they ran) candidates for mayor of Ann Arbor since Ingrid Sheldon left office:
Stephen Rapundalo (2000)
Marcia Higgins (2002)
Jane Lumm (2004)
So thanks to Jane for the heads-up!
1 November 2006 (Soon-to-be Mayor of Ypsilanti)
Paul Schreiber's work as an electronics engineer has him focused nowadays on car radios. In reading back through his Teeter Talk, I noticed that one issue he's tuned-in to in a subtle way is the perception of Ypsilanti's dire financial straits as a fundamentally different situation from Ann Arbor's. So when my Arbor-centric perspective surfaces in referencing Ypsilanti alone, Paul gently nudges the dial: and Ann Arbor, too.
Shifting gears slightly, something that comes out of car radios is music, so it's worth reminding folks they can support local Ypsilanti music by purchasing the Ypsisongs compilation online, or also in all likelihood here:
Friday, 3 November, TC's Speakeasy, $5 (for the show)
Performances by Brandon Wiard, Scotty Karate, Ian Saylor, Valicode, Dave Lawson, Modernlull, Drunken Barn Dance, Annie Palmer and The Eugene Strobe.
And if you'd like to say Hi to Paul in person and compliment him on his smooth tottering style, and talk with some other interesting folks as well, he'll be attending the YpsiVotes public forum on Thursday, 2 November. Details at Future of Ypsilanti.
26 October 2006 (Tottering with another Tom)
On Tuesday, Independent candidate for Ann Arbor Mayor, Tom Wall, dropped by Mullholland Avenue to ride the totter. Before mounting up, he took the time to point out the house across from me where his mother grew up, and recounted some of his own childhood memories of the street.
Tom is perhaps better known around town for founding and operating All Star Driver Education, and for organizing thousands of volunteers for various local projects, than he is for his mayoral campaign. We tottered long enough that our feet wore through the leaves blanketing the ground on either side of the board. All the while as we tottered, one question I wanted to answer for myself was, How does this guy get all those people to volunteer?
Here's a possible answer. If you read through Tom's Talk, you'll notice that in the course of the totter ride, Tom sings a song. It's not particularly important what song or what the context was. The point is, Tom sang it out loud and proud without having to be asked. So after tottering, as Tom was leaving, he noticed the banjo in my living room and asked me if I played. I told him I pretty much only knew how to play one song, Banjo Christmas, a song I wrote a couple of years ago as a Christmas present for a bunch of different people. That song almost demands to be performed on a banjo, so I learned enough to play that song. Then Tom just asked me straight up: "Would you mind playing it for me? Or maybe just a verse of it?" I thus picked up my five-string and launched into Banjo Christmas.
Halfway through this tune, somewhere around the part that goes "You can pick your own Christmas gifts and you can pick your nose, but you ain't no-count if you cain't pick a banjo," with our possibly next mayor listening politely in a living room chair, and me fiercely intent on proving I was not no-count, I wondered, Hmmm, how exactly did we get here? I think it's probably the same way Tom convinces people to volunteer. He proves he's willing to sing himself, then he just flat-out asks you to sing. It never occurs to you to say, No. And once you've started, hey, you're not going to just sing one verse, you're going to finish the whole song. That's what I did, anyway.
16 October 2006 (Recycling)
When I invited Melinda Uerling over to ride the totter (Executive Director of Recycle Ann Arbor), it occurred to me that the perfect pitch to convince her to ride would be to talk about how all the materials that went into building the totter were reclaimed and recycled materials obtained from the ReUse Center. But I would have had to flat-out lie to make that pitch, and as it turns out I didn't have to throw her any curveballs to convince her to particpate anyway. An obvious question this time of year, which I forgot to ask her: Do you have any baseball mitts, bats, gloves, and whatnot at the ReUse Center right now? I guess I was a little distracted by my own recycling project, which is pictured below. It swaps recycling bins for a dishwasher. Someday I might build some cabineture with a pull-out drawer for each bin.
9 October 2006 (Vintage Computing)
Teeter Talk is produced with a combination of an old PC and and old Mac. A couple of weeks ago, the power supply to the PC died. Today, the power supply to the old Mac died. What I've learned today is that the G4 Cube is considered by MacIntosh to be a 'vintage' machine. So, no luck with the usual suspect MacIntosh re-sellers ... some possible leads on eBay and Craigslist ... a strong but expensive lead on Yahoo Stores. It appears that a robust investment in a completely new computing platform might be required, but that would mean pressing the issue of monetizing the totter (discussed briefly with Scott Schnaars some months ago).
5 October 2006 (Can Do Food Sculpture)
SOS Community Services is a non-profit I used to think of as focusing just on housing. Actually, they do food as well. And to highlight their efforts in addressing hunger, they're holding a Food Sculpture Competition. But this ain't no pumpkin carving contest. The sculpture is at once a work of art and a donation of food, so you can't ruin the food in the interest of art. On the totter, Nancy Shore explains the background of this and talks about her newest challenge: serving on the Board of the AATA.
3 October 2006 (Lunch Hour)
Brandon Wiard was kind enough to sacrifice the better chunk of his lunch time from his downtown day job to come share a teeter totter ride with me. If he was two minutes tardy in returning to work, here's hoping that his boss understands it was for the greater good.
29 September 2006 (Think Local First, not because it's easy)
The fan in the power supply in my PC fritzed out last Thursday and I was desperate to get it repaired before the weekend. I started calling computer repair shops in the phone book. After hearing technicians from two different shops talk about time frames of two weeks or more, and about extra charges to expedite to around a week, I tried Ann Arbor Computer Systems. Their guy Ken actually seemed on the phone very keen to fix my computer and to fix it soon. So I took my 6-year old machine in to them, he looked at the power supply, and shook his head. He was going to have to order it in, because Gateway had spec-ed a proprietary unit for that model. He couldn't fix it until tomorrow. He was apologetic. I was thrilled. Next day he called and told me to come pick up the machine. I asked if he owned the place and he pointed to the guy standing next to him.
I have to say, I didn't think local first. I thought fix-it fast first. But it turns out that a local business got my dollars. It would not have been easy to think local first in that situation. I just didn't have time to assess who might be local and who wasn't. For more on what's easy and what's hard about patronizing local business, read more of Lisa Dugdale's Talk.
Speaking of doing what's easy, I'm guessing Chris Bathgate will perform his song Do What's Easy at the Old Town on Sunday night [1 October 8:00pm]. Our block party will be breaking up right around then, and I hope to be leading a herd of people down to see Chris play his set ... not that I've ever been able to lead my neighbors to do much of anything. Still, if you're thinking of going, and you want a good seat, you better go early.
25 September 2006 (We won't know until we look at the game film)
Not long after he rode the teeter totter, Karl Pohrt had a Distinguished University Professorship named for him. The professor who holds the named professorship and who, in fact, chose the name, is Geoff Eley. Professor Eley rode the totter while the Badgers and the Wolverines clashed over at the Big House.
19 September 2006 (Word Origin)
The WordHumper speculated recently on the possible origins of the word 'teeter totter'.
18 September 2006 (Running)
Last week I was logging my standard 4-mile running loop up to Bird Hills, and on the homeward leg I spotted what looked very much like Matt Jones painting a house. But the figure I saw bent over, tapping out a rhythm with his paintbrush against the clapboard of an Old West Side home, was not stretched out to its full Matt-Jones extra-tall height, so I could not be sure. When I approached, it occurred to me that he might not want to shake my sweaty hand, but he thought (I think) that I was hesitating because I didn't want to get paint on my hand. We overcame this awkward moment and a quick conversation confirmed it was him.
Later that day, checking online for the goings-ons of selected past totterees (to see if there was any good news to report that I could attribute to their totter ride) I came across a recently-written essay by Neil Cleary with a running theme. The essay reads as smooth as any Neil Cleary lyric, so here's an excerpt:
Anyway it was just a few weeks ago on a particularly hot day, that I ran past a couple women out with their kids, some walking, a couple in strollers. "Excuse me!" one called out to me. That's surprising. I slowed and turned around. She was smiling, strolling toward me.
"Excuse me, I'm sorry... We just have to meet you." It was almost an apology, have to meet you.
"Oh, no problem, that's fine," I stopped, still catching my breath as I walked toward them.
"We just see you running out here..." she said, still kinda apologetically, "...and we wonder who's that?".
I caught up to them and stuck out my hand, "I'm Neil."
"Neil." she said, "I'm Sue." She paused and kinda cocked her head, "Didn't you go to CVU?"
Things take a turn for the weird for Neil soon after that. The complete essay Neighborhood Strangers is worth a read.
Then on Friday, I was still wondering what Neil's PR for 5K might be and whether it was faster than mine, when my wife and I headed off to Dylanfest at the Blind Pig. We found some stools to the left of the stage and got set to soak up all the Dylan we could stand. Then Neil Cleary walked past, which surprised me, because Neil Cleary lives in Vermont. He seemed to be back through town to do some more work with Jim Roll on Neil's album that they've been recording. I spotted Jim in the crowd a bit later and it turned out that Jim and Neil were not just there to watch. Neil and Jim backed Brian Lillie (who spawned Dylanfest back in the day as Bobfest) on drums and bass, respectively. Well, huh.
But before Brian Lillie played, Dylanfest was treated to Corndaddy, which sported a lineup that included Will Stewart on bass and vocals (plus Kevin Brown, and Jud Branham, and Jerry Hancock). My connection to Will Stewart? A few years ago, we trained for several weeks for the St. Patty's Day 5K run through the streets of downtown Ann Arbor. I wondered how many of the other musicians at Dylanfest were runners.
I stayed at Dylanfest a good long while after my wife had already left, but had to pack it in around 1:00am, so I didn't stay long enough to see Chris Bathgate play, who was also on the bill.
I would have liked to have watched all three of the totterees who played Dylanfest, but I needed to save some strength for an early running date Saturday morning with one of the real pioneers of the totter, Tom Bourque. I hadn't run with his Nasty Boys Glee Club in a long time, but I figured because Tom was fighting some persistent injuries I might have an easier time keeping up with him. It wasn't any easier than it ever was, but these guys do wait for you at the top of all the long hills.
17 September 2006 (Ypsil-annie)
The September edition of Electric Current, the online version of Dave DeVarti's SGI publication Current Magazine, lists two performances for Annie Palmer. You've missed them both if you're just now reading about them, so the dates aren't so important, but the text in those listings is worth presenting here:
8:30pm, Crazy Wisdom Bookstore & Tearoom, FREE
Sweet-voiced Ypsilanti songwriter offers heartfelt indie folk.
8pm, Dreamland Theater, Ypsilanti, $5
Chicago spoken word performer, vocalist for the Spent Shells and author of Poplife performs. Sweet-voiced Ypsilanti indie folk songwriter Annie Palmer also plays, plus Superband, featuring Patrick Elkins and Palmer.
And then in the Totter Log entry from yesterday, how did I allude to Annie Palmer? Like this:
Listen to the background vocals. Whose sweet voice is that?
It's not like you have to scrounge around to say nice things about Annie, so seriously, why does it always have to be
the bit about the sweet voice? If you have a look at Annie's Teeter Talk, you'll see that
she's smart, patient, good-humored, charming, and elegant. But I suppose those are not the character traits that
might cause people to go see her perform, or to buy her CD. So instead, I'd add that she
writes lyrics that make you want to savor each syllable. And that she makes her blue guitar sound sweet, too.
So the next time you see an event listing, or a flyer on a telephone pole, that says Annie Palmer offers heartfelt indie folk, I'd suggest you accept that offer by going to hear her play.
16 September 2006 (T-shirts on the Totter)
Remember Dustin Krcatovich? Two salient points from that Teeter Talk are: (1) Dustin worked at the American Apparel store down on the Michigan Theater block of Liberty Street in downtown Ann Arbor (2) On the totter, he was wearing a T-shirt that he designed himself. Well, he left these parts and headed off to Oregon a few weeks (months?) ago. And at some point he sent Dov Charney (head of American Apparel) a T-shirt that he had designed with the slogan something like 'I lov Dov!' Apparently, Dov loved it and now Dustin's moving to the American Apparel mothership in Los Angeles. Given his permission to spread the good news, Dustin confirms:
It seems official, indeed. I'm going to be Dov's assistant's assistant. Crazy world we live in ... I'll be up to my neck in underwear (which is a totally weird thing, but kind of cool).
In somewhat of an odd coincidence, on Actual Birds MySpace you can get a preview of the next Teeter Talk guest by sampling some of Dustin's Everyone has a Skeleton. As I type this, it's the first selection loaded in the StandAlone Player. Listen to the background vocals. Whose sweet voice is that? Raw transcript is already done. To be cleaned up and formatted soon.
15 September 2006 (Contacting)
A subtle change appears in the links at the top of the page today. 'Email' and 'Comment' have been replaced with a single entry 'Contact'.
First, in response to folks who've dutifully used the comment form, expecting their comments to show up on the site (in the usual way that blogs allow), I'm sorry to have misled you into thinking that form was a way to post material to the site yourself. It's meant more as substitute for using your own email (e.g., if you're reading the site from work and you don't care to have messages addressed to 'homelessdave' recorded in your account; if you don't have access to your own email client from the same machine you're using to read the site; if you'd just prefer to remain anonymous). So strictly speaking, it's meant as a contact form, not a comment form and now it's been labeled as such.
Second, I've heard from some folks who opted for the form over the 'email' link just because when they moused over the link, they saw a very long string of puzzling digits show up in the status bar of their browser. That was a script designed to mask the text of the email address behind numerical ASCII equivalents of letters and some sort of public-private key encryption. If in addition to reducing spam it was also alarming people, I figured I'd just junk it and write out the address in a way that likely fools only stupidest of email-harvesting spiders: homelessdave##at##homelessdave#dot##com I'm willing to sacrifice a few minutes of tottering time to spam deletion.
11 September 2006 (Comparing Calluses)
There's lots of cool things about Dave Sharp. I mean other than the fact that his name is Dave. He plays the bass. And if you haven't heard him play, you're missing out on part of what makes Ann Arbor Ann Arbor. So here's some dates when you can bridge your cultural chasm (no cover):
22 September 10pm, Dave Sharp Quartet at Goodnight Gracie (301 West Huron St., Ann Arbor, under Live at PJ's)
30 September 8:30pm, The Joe Summers Gypsy Jazz Trio, Crazy Wisdom Bookstore & Tearoom (114 S. Main Street, Ann Arbor)
How is Dave going to get his bass to these gigs? Well, as much as it would make Scott TenBrink's day, it's not going to be like this:
10 September 2006 (Hail, yeah)
Last Wednesday was a two-fer tottering day with Todd Leopold at noon followed by Eileen Spring, Executive Director of Food Gatherers, in the late afternoon. It was a spectacular day for both totter rides. Mere minutes after Eileen departed, the clear blue skies turned suddenly an ugly dark grey and spewed forth the hail you can see documented below. I can only imagine that the heavens were just trying to provide an apt accompaniment to the carrot bouquet Eileen brought with her as Executive Director of Food Gatherers. Well, because it was pea-sized hail, that's why.
8 September 2006 (The Todder)
A young man learned that the girl he loved was a moonshiner's daughter. And he loved her still.
Todd Leopold reveals on the totter that he is not a moonshiner's son, but that he really does love his still.
6 September 2006 (Freezing over)
Remember Dan Izzo, owner of the Improv Inferno on Main Street in Ann Arbor? It was pretty cold back on 21 December 2006 when he rode the totter. And maybe the cold was a bad omen, because the Improv Inferno is now 'freezing over'. Last shows are coming up end of this week and this weekend. Thursday's show goes from 6pm to midnight! Details on this and other shows here: Improv Inferno.
Of the recurring shows at the Inferno, I'll miss Citizen Improv the most. For one thing, it was an outlet for me to get up on stage and tell stories without anybody interrupting me. Here's hoping the Inferno thaws out in a new location soon. Cause I got more stories I want to tell. And some of them just won't fit onto the totter.
2 September 2006 (Owning the means)
It was 17 Labor Day weekends ago that my wife and I were wed. The teeter totter was constructed as a 15th wedding anniversary present, which makes the teeter totter two years old today. And as long as I'm waxing a little romantic, it's worth noting that on our first date we went to the May Day celebration in my hometown. We did not plan either of these events in consideration of the two most significant dates for the workers of the world.
Yet it's still somehow fitting that Teeter Talk's first Labor Day weekend guest has a direct connection to Labor with a capital 'L'. Matt Erard is running for (term-limited) Chris Kolb's State House seat in Michigan's 53rd District as the Socialist Party candidate. But when you see his name on the ballot (and you will see it on the ballot), it won't have the Socialist Party affiliation listed. I figured if I re-read Larry Kestenbaum's Teeter Talk, I'd find an explanation of how election laws in Michigan have resulted in no ballot access for the Socialists, but I was wrong. At any rate, if you want to vote for a Socialist in November, you'll need to remember Matt Erard's name.
2 September 2006 (Free Car!!)
Remember Scott TenBrink? He really seems to have turned the corner on his transportational views. He's evolved from thinking that he was
... interested in creating roadways that are designed for human-powered vehicles which have destinations, exclude cars, and fit into the context of the city or town ...
to the attitude he expressed while riding the teeter totter,
...[b]ut now I realize that if we took all the cars out of Ann Arbor, and all of the places for cars to drive and park etcetera, we'd kind of suffocate ourselves. I don't think it's as simple or as black-and-white as I used to ...
to giving away a brand new car! That's right, he's giving away a free car! You could win a brand new car by logging on to a new website: Free Car, Ann Arbor!. My first question would be, What kind of car ... wha? Huh?! Oh. Sorry. Go to that website anyway and find ways to lead a car-free life in and around Ann Arbor.
TT Log Archives
|2010||October to present|
|2008||September, October, November, December|
|2007||July, August, September|
|2006-2007||December, January, February|
|2006||September, October, November|
|2006||June, July, August|
|2005-2006||December, January, February, March, April, May|
NB: All totterees are already listed in the left hand column (in chronological order). What is available in the TT Log Archives are just the log entries.