Nancy Shore in her natural state

Nancy Shore
SOS Community Services, Community Relations Coordinator;
Board Member, Ann Arbor Transportation Authority

Tottered on: 3 October 2006
Temperature: 73 F
Ceiling: partly cloudy
Ground: rain-soaked
Wind: N at 3 mph

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TT with HD: Nancy Shore

[Ed. note: The deadline for registration for the Food Sculpture Competition discussed below is 12 October 2006. Deadline for entry is 20 October 2006. Still plenty of time for someone to excecute the photomosaic concept, conceived by HD right on the teeter totter, and described below.]

NS: I like posing funny for pictures ... ... ...

HD: That should be enough to choose from.

NS: I'll let you select which one you most prefer. I often look at my pictures and I have no idea that it's me, because I always look different from the perception I have of myself, so that's how it goes.

HD: I often hear people say that about a sound recording of themselves, but not so often, It doesn't look like me!

NS: I guess because if you look at yourself in the mirror, it's a different image than you get looking a yourself with a camera.

HD: Ah, right. I guess also with moving pictures--at least when I've seen myself on video--it's been a little alarming to realize, Oh my god, I've got mannerisms!

NS: Yes, you don't ever want to have that. You want to go?

HD: Is this working out for you?

NS: This is great. Whee!

HD: Well, I wanted to start by asking you about this Food Sculpture Contest that SOS Community Services ...

NS: ... oh, so you've heard about it?

HD: Yes. And my gut reaction is that it seems to fly in the face of everything that you learn from your mother, namely, you know, Don't play with your food. But as best I understand, the basic rule is, you can't ruin the food for consumption?

NS: Exactly. It's really just a way to get people to think creatively about doing something to benefit the community. I just thought it would be fun to merge some sort of art and creativity with awareness of hunger. We had kind of stopped doing a lot of events at SOS, and a lot of the reason was because it takes so much energy by staff. So my previous boss, who just left, said, Hey, why don't we make it a virtual event? Then people can do it in their own place, they can also do it there, raise awareness there, and then we can collect all the food. It would serve double purposes. So far, people have been really excited about it.

HD: So a lot of submissions already?

NS: I've got about three. But we went to EMU and U of M, to their community resource fairs, and at both places they seemed very excited about it. So we will see.

HD: So it's intended more for larger groups who're going to assemble a whole bunch of food into a sculpture, as opposed to just some guy like me saying, Hey, what have I got in the pantry that I can make something out of?

NS: I think it was geared towards larger groups, but anybody can participate. I like to think of an idea and see if it works, then afterward evaluate it and get an idea of what worked and what didn't. So I'm just seeing how this handles itself and seeing how it pans out. Obviously, there is some planning involved. We have to figure out how are we going to get all the food to SOS, once everybody has done their sculptures. What size photos do we want people to submit? And all of those things have been worked out, but as far as the general idea, I'm not completely 100 percent sure how it's going to work. So we'll just see.

HD: I was trying to think of what I would do as a submission, and I have to say, I was just getting nowhere.

NS: Really?

HD: Well, I think it was the fact that you have to keep the food intact, you can't ruin the food, and where my mind went immediately was, Get a big block of cheese and carve like a big bear or a rabbit or something. But you'd be wasting all the cheese that you cut away, and it wouldn't be in the spirit of the contest.

NS: Well, here's where you needed to think outside the can! You can bring in anything, you could go to a craft store, you could go to Kiwanis, and grab stuff and put it in there, it doesn't matter, as long as the food is intact. You could get any other sort of objects in the whole universe and just slap it on your sculpture.

HD: So it's fine to bring in non-food elements.

NS: Yeah, sure!

HD: Well, when you just said to think outside the can, it occurred to me, I thought, if you had enough cans, you could do a pointillist [Ed. note: a photomosaic seems to be what HD is actually describing] kind of deal, where you select the cans for different products in a judicious way depending on their labels, and stack them up against a wall, so that they cover a full wall, and it would form a portrait if you stood far enough away from it ...

NS: ... so it'd be like a Chuck Close sort of thing? Is what you're thinking?

HD: Yeaaah, is that an artist who does pointillist stuff?

NS: Yes. I saw him at a Seattle Museum of Modern Art a while ago. He does these huge portraits of people, and if you look really close, he'll do things like use his thumbprint, or he'll do little spirals. So up close, that's all you'll see is this collection of little spirals, but the more you step back, or if you take off your glasses, you can see the entire picture. It's amazing, because it looks really realistic. It looks like a real photograph, but it's just thumbprints or little swatches of color.

HD: How much time is there left to submit for the contest?

NS: The submission deadline for a photograph is October 20th, so you've still got about two weeks.

HD: But you have to register before then, right?

NS: That would be good, because we have a registration packet that has all the details, so we would like people to register at least a week prior-to. I believe that's the 12th [of October 2006] would be the registration deadline. So that we can make sure everybody knows what size photograph they need to send us, how the whole process works. It's got some ideas for how to do a food drive if somebody wants to have a food drive and it also has information on SOS.

HD: You know, I've suddenly become enamored of this pointillist idea. It's not something I remotely have the ability to execute, but maybe somebody at the School of Art and Design, some student who needs a project or something.

NS: And I have gotten an agreement from Judy McGovern of the Ann Arbor News to put pictures of the winners in the Ann Arbor News, so she is all over that.

HD: So when is that going to run?

NS: Whenever Judy decides! But after the contest is over and we've determined the winners. Which we will probably do the week after all the submissions have come in, because you know there's always one or two that trickle in. I'm hoping that pretty soon after that she'll put the photos in the Ann Arbor News.

HD: So how does that work? Do you write a letter to Judy McGovern, saying, Hey we have this thing, can you put something in? Or is it a phone call or what's the strategy there?

NS: Well, I'm the PR person for SOS, so this is definitely part of my job and oddly enough we have a board member, Peri Stone-Palmquist, who used to be a reporter with the Ann Arbor News, ...

HD: ... ah, so you have a connection there ...

NS: ... so she can tell me what to do. But most every Ann Arbor News reporter that I've ever dealt with is really accessible by either calling them on the phone or emailing them, and I often do both. With Judy, I actually met with her one day. She was very open to coming out and hanging out at Sweetwaters. We had a really good conversation, and that all arose out of me just calling her on the phone and saying, Hey, I have this idea. That's a fun experience, if you ever have an idea for a story for the paper, just calling up the editor and saying, Hey, I have this story! You get a real rush out of that, because you never know what they're going to say, and the fear of rejection is very strong. But there's just something about being able to do that and having them be interested in it that's just very exciting.

HD: Well, back to the food sculpture contest, the other thought I had--because, I just had Eileen Spring as a guest on the teeter totter--and ...

NS: ... oh, yes, from Food Gatherers, that's cool ...

HD: ... right, from Food Gatherers. So with the food sculpture contest, you're doing something that, in a sense, I would normally associate with Food Gatherers. You know, Doesn't Food Gatherers take care of all the food gathering in the county?! I guess part of what I'm wondering is why there's a need for SOS Community Services to collect its own food, and is there any sense of competition between SOS and Food Gatherers on that level?

NS: That's a really good question. We actually get a lot of the food for our food pantry that's in Ypsilanti from Food Gatherers. What we actually do is purchase it from them at a reduced cost. Almost eighty percent of the food that we get, comes from Food Gatherers. And the reason I'm doing this event in addition, is that SOS, as an organization, wants to make a name for itself in the community, wants people to say, Hey, this is SOS! And one of the ways I was thinking of getting people to know about us was to think about different areas that we focus on. And this fall, I thought, we should focus on hunger and talk about issues of hunger. Our newsletter, the theme for it, is hunger and it's related to family homelessness. But in terms of competition, that's a really interesting question as far as the non-profit community around here, because Ann Arbor is small ...

HD: ... sorry. The reason I stopped is not because I'm trying to keep you up there in the air, I'm just trying to get situated so I can stretch out my legs [laugh] ...

NS: ... oh that's totally fine, not a problem. But there are definitely two ways you can look at non-profits in any area, I feel like. In terms of, There's a little pie, and we've all got to find our little piece of that pie, and if we start going over into somebody else's piece, we're going to have to start scrambling for that pie. Or there's another idea which is, There is one pie, so why don't we make another pie, and another pie, and another pie, so that we can all have more resources. And I would much rather think about it as, We're all part of a pie and we want to create more pies so that we can have more resources for all of us. So one of the things I actually did for my newsletter, is I interviewed Eileen Spring, who just did a hunger study that I'm sure she talked to you about in the teetering she did with you. So if I had more time and more expertise, if I do this event [Food Sculpture Contest] again, probably I would want to bring in Food Gatherers, I would want to bring in some other organizations that do food and make it a larger event. So I wasn't doing this as if nobody else is around, we're just going to do this for ourselves. It was just an event that seemed really interesting and exciting to me. I would like to see more partnerships and ensure that we're not all trying to compete for the same pie and the same money. Because I know there's been some issues with the Washtenaw Housing Alliance in terms of how to how all those different executive directors who are in all those different organizations work together, ...

HD: ... that Housing Alliance was something I wanted to talk to you about as well, sort of in the general spirit of competition among non-profits and coordinating efforts. You know, whether that's, in fact, something that non-profits in general want to do. And maybe it's not the best thing for them to do. I mean, it sounds on the surface, like, Oh, yeah, you can just put all of those under an umbrella organization and, you know, they're all doing basically the same thing, yeah, that'll be more efficient! But in fact, there may be very good reasons why there's all these different non-profits in certain areas serving very specific needs. It first appeared as an issue to me, when I was watching this City Council meeting where there were community service dollars being allocated--I forget exactly the name of the committee, but I think it was Stephen Rapundalo who was the Council Member on that committee--and the recommendation was one where some groups that had received money in the past didn't receive money this year. So there was a fairly intense discussion about why that was, and whether that was appropriate. And one of the comments that was made was along the lines of, Well, you know, a lot of these non-profits, they could benefit from consolidation anyway! And I thought to myself, Hmmm, yeah, I wonder how those non-profits who are not getting any money this year from the City really feel about that as a proposal.

NS: What's really challenging about that is that every non-profit has its own origin story ...

HD: ... and a certain mystique as well ...

NS: ... they have a certain mystique, a certain way they like to do things, and a certain culture, just like any organization. Each one has their own executive director, so that even becomes a huge problem if you consolidate. Are you going to have co-executive directors? That would be very interesting, given that a lot of executive directors I know around here, they're big personalities, they lead with a vision, and it would be hard for them to consolidate.

HD: And maybe part of the reason the non-profit succeeds at what it's doing is because of the force of the personalities of a couple of key individuals.

NS: I think it is really tricky. I don't think that there is one magical utopia, where we're all working together and holding hands, singing Kum Ba Yah, all the non-profits together. In this day and age, the way the economy is, the way that federal dollars are, a lot more non-profits have to behave like businesses. And businesses don't necessarily work together. They're all trying to win out so that you make sure to buy their product. And I think that sometimes non-profits have to start thinking about that. I know we're talking a lot more about, How do we be innovative? How we do we carve out a name for ourselves? And I think that's great, but I think that non-profits are different from businesses, they do have something different in that we are serving a client, say a homeless client, rather than trying to get somebody to buy our product. So we not only have to make sure that we're providing the best possible services to clients, we also have to deal with this issue of our volunteers and our donors, and how we make sure to create an image that's interesting to people, a brand they might like, but at the same time we can't be cutthroat and nasty to other organizations that are doing the same kind of work that we are. So it's a real interesting challenge. Something that SOS is starting to talk about in the community is this model of doing housing called Housing First. And our executive director is going out to other organizations-- to present at the Washtenaw Housing Alliance, he's talked to Ann Arbor Community Fund--and what it is trying to do is, rather than trying to get somebody into a family shelter, and then find transitional housing for them, and then trying to find a permanent place for them to live, it's actually getting them into a permanent affordable first and then wrapping services around them ...

HD: ... this is a part of the Service Standards or is it the Blueprint?

NS: This is some part of the Blueprint to End Homelessness, if that's what you're referring to, ...

HD: ... yeah, there's the Blueprint, but I thought there was also a part of that that involved Service Standards ...

NS: I'm not as familiar with that. I just know that we're starting this model and we're bringing it out to the community. It's a new way that we're doing things, but that doesn't mean that everybody is on board with us, because it is SOS trying a new thing. It is a way for us to differentiate ourselves from other organizations. And I think there's always going to be some tension around that.

HD: So this is not a Washtenaw Housing Alliance program?

NS: Nope. It's an SOS program, we're trying to do our own pilot of it. But SOS is a part of the Washtenaw Housing Alliance.

HD: Got it.

NS: It's all kind of interconnected and confusing, but we are starting to initiate a new pilot project to look at the way that we do housing, to do it differently. Some of it is in response to the federal government, which continues to slash dollars for homeless resources, which continues to slash dollars in general, and we're trying to look at ways to diversify our resource base. Because right now, we get a lot of money from the federal government, and it would be a lot easier if we could partner more with other organizations and businesses and individuals to provide our resources, so that we could be more flexible. Anyway, I'm talking technical jargon now.

HD: You've been appointed recently to the AATA board. I read somewhere that you 'applied'. Do they actually have an application process, do they have a form, ...

NS: ... yes! ...

HD: ... do you have to write an essay?

NS: I have a friend who works at the AATA, and he said, Hey, all these people are leaving, you might want to apply. So I just sent an email to John Hieftje, I said, Hey, John, this is what I'm interested in! This was two weeks before the election, so he didn't get back to me, and he didn't email me ever. So I was wondering what was happening, and I ended up having to look on the website for the City and then called them. You have to do this whole application, you have to give them a resume in order to apply, so it took me a while to get all my stuff together ...

HD: ... but that doesn't sound so unreasonable.

NS: I guess, it just seemed like, I just want to do it! So just let me! But you're right, probably a process is good. So I completed their application form and the resume, then mailed it off. And then a couple of weeks later, Tom Gantert, from the Ann Arbor News called me and said, Oh, it sounds like you're going to be on the board of the AATA. And this had been the first time that I had heard that!

HD: So there was no communication between the City and you between the time you submitted your application and the time that Tom called you?

NS: Yes. Which was interesting. I don't know quite what happened. I was expecting that someone would call me and say, Hey, you're on the AATA Board! But somehow the Ann Arbor News had heard before I did. And then somebody called me who said they had been referred to me because I was an AATA Board member--somebody from Webster Township telling me their issues ...

HD: ... so you were fielding client calls before you knew for sure you were named to the Board?

NS: But eventually Greg Cook called and told me what was going on. And I actually called the mayor's office and I got a letter and it was all very formal. But it was odd, the series of events, in terms of how I knew. But yes, I will be going to my first meeting ...

HD: ... middle of this month, right?

NS: Yes, my first Board Meeting is in a couple of weeks in the middle of October.

HD: Will they swear you in at that meeting?

NS: No, I have to go to the City to do my oath. So yes, I am on the AATA Board. It will be very interesting. I've never served on any board before.

HD: That's a nice lead-in to a topic I wanted to explore with you. Judy Rumelhart was quoted in the paper ...

NS: ... yes ...

HD: ... as saying something along the lines of, The problem with Ted Annis [AATA Board Member] is that he doesn't know how to be a good board member.

NS: Yes, yes, oh, gosh.

HD: Without putting you in a position of asking you to evaluate Ted Annis' performance as an AATA Board Member, what you makes you think you know how to be a good board member?

NS: Well, what I put in my application for the Board was that I'm in a unique position because not only am I a professional who could choose to drive a car-- who wants to go on the bus, who takes the bus all the way from Ann Arbor over to Ypsilanti--I'm also in an organization where I deal first-hand with people who the bus is their only form of transportation, they have no other way to get around. So I can see what it's like from what I see as these two market segments that the AATA is trying to develop a message to. Which is, the young professionals who could drive their cars, but you want to get them to get on the bus, or people who are disabled or very low income who have no other choice than to be on the bus. I felt like that would be a good way for me to bring in those voices. Because as I subsequently read on ArborUpdate, after they had announced that I was a Board member and that I ride the bus, hardly any of the other AATA Board members actually use the bus.

HD: I think Eli Cooper does the Park and Ride, and on Fridays sometimes he bicycles in.

NS: Okay, well that's good.

HD: Yeah, it's good when people who are involved in making decisions about an organization at least at some point actually use the services. So anything else on your mind today, other than the fact that it is really just a gorgeous day?

NS: It is a gorgeous day. Let me think for a second. I was going over in my mind, things I could talk about when I came over here ...

HD: So did you walk over, or ...

NS: I biked over. I biked from a class. I took an InDesign class today, so I learned how to do InDesign for my work.

HD: How'd that go?

NS: It was great, it was fun. It was a very interesting class. I really like working with technology and doing the graphic-y technical stuff on top of most of my job, which is talking to people and being very interactive.

HD: So you'll be producing the newsletter using InDesign.

NS: Well, now I'll have an idea of what I'm doing instead of pretending, because I've used it before and I didn't know what I was doing. Something else that a lot of people probably don't know, because we don't have the same last name, my husband is Chuck Warpehoski, and he is the director for ...

HD: ... Interfaith Council ...

NS: ... yeah, Interfaith Council for Peace and Justice. So we are kind of tag-team non-profit people that actually live in Ann Arbor. We've been here for four years. I worked at Zingerman's for a year when I moved here, so I had a good Ann Arbor experience initially coming to this community, and actually meeting people who are from Ann Arbor and who have lived in Ann Arbor all their lives, which is very rare.

HD: So what'd you do for Zingerman's, if I may ask?

NS: I was a Deli staff person!

HD: So you actually made sandwiches?

NS: No, I took orders, and I worked on the cash register, and tried to get people to buy things.

HD: Did you memorize the menu, you had to have some facility with the sandwich menu?

NS: I knew every single sandwich, I did.

HD: So if I were to quiz you right now ...

NS: ... oh, that would be way too hard, because, you know, if you don't use it you lose it. But I actually have a very good place in my heart for Zingerman's. My husband and I now live on the far west side, so we can walk to the Roadhouse, which we only do so often, because, yes, prices are high. So we're not able to do that very often.

HD: Yeah, I don't know if they still have this item on the menu, or if it's priced the same, but when they first opened, I saw a menu that had Biscuits & Gravy for like 17 bucks. You know, Biscuits & Gravy is one of my favorite meals, but I'm not going to pay 17 bucks for it, I don't care who made it or what the ingredients are.

NS: I think my basic philosophy, and the thing that I think is very important in our community, is eating locally, and eating good food, eating not-processed food, eating close to the food chain, trying to make things from scratch. I think Zingerman's really tries to do that. But there's also this other level of extreme foodie-ism: you want the best of this, so if you have to get it from somebody who's going to charge you a very high price, then that's okay. So I'm up and down about that. Because I definitely like to support local businesses ...

HD: ... [laugh] I'm sorry, I'm laughing at the 'up-and-down' phrase ...

NS: ... well, we're going up and down! But if I could, I would probably shop more at Zingerman's than I do, but it's just not necessarily a possibility.

HD: So you rode your bike over? I didn't hear you come up. Where'd you put the bike?

NS: It's just right beside your house. I actually got into Mulholland and then I just walked down, so I could cool down a little bit, too. This is the problem with biking sometimes, is that you might be nice and cool on the outside, but you get really hot on the inside, so you have to find a way to cool yourself down.

HD: Hmm, maybe that's a tip you could post to Scott Ten Brink's CarFree Ann Arbor. Get off your bike and walk the final 200 meters ...

NS: ... just to cool yourself down a bit. I love it, though. I try to bike all year round, because I really like biking.

HD: What kind of bike do you have?

NS: It's just a Trek Hybrid, and it's actually getting sort of old, so I might get a new one. But it has fenders on it, which are completely essential for any commuting where you want to wear regular clothes or professional clothes and not get that strip up your back. And I try to walk as much as possible, so I'm actually interested in tonight, they're going to do the non-motorized plan presentation.

HD: You going to that?

NS: I'm planning on going. As a member of the AATA Board, but also I'm very interested in overall how to make Ann Arbor more pedestrian-friendly. Especially because I live right over by Westgate and I can walk to Westgate from my house, but that doesn't mean that it's a nice walk. There's no sidewalks, it's not made for people to walk. It's ridiculous, because there's all those residential houses over there. Or over at Arborland, I would be really afraid to walk over there, because it's just a sea of cars. But I think it's possible, especially with the bus system, to have a lot of people do that.

HD: When you attend this meeting tonight, assuming your plans aren't interrupted by something else, you're going to be there in at least two different guises, one as an ordinary citizen who cares about non-motorized issues, as an Ann Arbor Transit Authority Board Member, and I guess maybe even as an SOS Community Services staff person. Have you thought about that specifically, that you're going to be appearing in these various guises and do you think that might represent any particular challenge?

NS: I don't know. This is new for me, these different guises. It's kind of funny because not many people really, I think, have any idea who I am. So I can still be kind of mysterious for a while, in terms of coming to something and people don't necessarily identify me. Like if I see Susan Pollay somewhere, it's not just Susan Pollay, Ann Arbor resident, it's Susan Pollay, the DDA Director and that's going to come with all sorts of things. I think the big thing that I always have to keep in mind is what I'm interested in as an upper-middle class professional person, and also what are the needs of people who can't afford to live in Ann Arbor and don't have access to a car, what are the needs of those individuals? I think especially in Ann Arbor, because we have a high proportion of middle-class, well-spoken, college-educated people, that's a lot of time the voice that gets heard in development issues or in issues involving pedestrians ...

HD: ... and those well-spoken voices around here can also be very loud and passionate sometimes.

NS: Right. But if you've ever been to say, like an Ypsilanti Council meeting, that was just the wildest experience for me, because I went there when they started talking about cutting the bus service. If you go to Ann Arbor City Council, they all have their lap tops and you have all these nice suits and everybody's pretty polite--I mean you have the occasional screaming, yelling public commentator--but at the Ypsilanti one, we had to move it to the Senior Center, and it was all kind of jumbly, and people just got up and screamed and yelled and it was very much wilder, I guess. So I don't know if that's indicative of the different feels of the different cities ...

HD: ... did that feel more like democracy to you?

NS: It felt more like democracy, and it also felt it just felt more like a community. People were talking about, Let's all do this together, and all we need to do is come together as a community, and we can fix this!

HD: I saw a similar contrast in the Ypsivotes mayoral debates. I don't remember the name of the building, but it was over on the EMU campus, and a huge cavernous room that was filled with probably 300 or 350 people. So it was quite a boisterous crowd, I mean, not boisterous, people were polite, but I'm just saying that there was a palpable energy in the room. As contrasted with the Ann Arbor City Council debates that were sponsored by the League of Women Voters televised on CTN, where it was all very slick and produced, and I think there was a audience in the studio, but you couldn't really tell it from the presentation on the TV screen.

NS: How long have you lived in Ann Arbor?

HD: I think it's 9 or 10 years.

NS: Because I just wonder, there's a lot of talk about what's going on with Ann Arbor and how a lot more people are moving to Ypsilanti, and Ypsilanti is a kind of funky cool place to live. But from many people that I've talked to, who have lived in Ann Arbor for a while, they say this is what Ann Arbor used to be like and that Ypsilanti is now what Ann Arbor used to be. Which is saddening to me, because Ann Arbor is one of the only places where I've ever found a strong sense of community. I mean we bought a house here and we're probably not moving for a while and ...

HD: ... so where did you and Chuck come from?

NS: I am from Maryland originally, but I haven't been there since high school.

HD: The coasty part of Maryland or up toward the mountains part?

NS: The suburban part. I am from no-culture suburbia D.C. Maryland. And I went to Grinell College in Iowa, a small liberal arts college, that's where I met Chuck. Chuck is from northern Wisconsin. So that's where we converged. We were in Madison for a summer then did a year of volunteer service in D.C. And then we said, We don't really want to live in a big urban city like D.C. Hey, we've heard good things about Ann Arbor, we've heard it's a lot like Madison ...

HD: ... so where did you hear these things?

NS: I don't remember. Probably from people living in Madison that talked about Ann Arbor. And I wanted to go to school. At one point I thought I would want to go back to social work school after I graduated. So we moved to Ann Arbor, we didn't know anybody, we didn't have jobs, we didn't have anything lined up, it was rough the first couple of weeks, but ...

HD: ... so you just arrived in a moving van, without an address of a place to stay??

NS: Well, we came one weekend before, and found an apartment to live in, on West Hoover, right over by the stadium. That was a fun place to live for three years, because every time there was a game, it was inundated, which was actually really fun. And it got us to be interested in football.

HD: So are you now still interested in football? You follow the team?

NS: We do!

HD: Yeah, so what do you think of the zone blocking scheme the offense is ...

NS: ... see, now that, I'm not going to [be able to] answer. I watch the games and we listen to them. Actually we usually listen to them, because I like the Ticket 1050, even though those guys can be maybe a little more conservative than my bent, in terms of talking about the troops and stuff during the game. I do like their color commentary. So yes, I follow it. My dad was a big sports person when I was growing up, so I used to watch a lot of baseball and basketball and football. So I know what's happening, but I couldn't tell you ...

HD: ... so did you play sports yourself in high school?

NS: I did cross country. And one thing that both Chuck and I are doing is that I'm training for the Detroit half-marathon and Chuck's doing the marathon this year.

HD: Oh, that's coming right up. So do you train together?

NS: No, because we're doing very different distances. He's doing like 20 miles, I'm doing 10. And he's a little more athletically inclined than I am in terms of his speed, so he goes a little faster.

HD: So do you have a goal time or you just looking to finish the thing?

NS: I just want to finish. I've done the Dexter-Ann-Arbor Run two years in a row and that's been really fun ...

HD: ... oh, then you can handle the half-marathon distance, then.

NS: Oh yeah, and it's something to work towards. It's fun to have a goal in terms of just running. And I just like being active in general, so I'm glad that I'm able to do that. Ann Arbor is a pretty nice place to run around, too.

HD: So does it bother you at all towards the end of some of these races, there's always the spectators who sort of feel it's their job to encourage you and say, You can do it! Not much more to go! Keep going!

NS: When you feel like you're going to die?

HD: I mean, I understand the spirit of that, but when I've found myself in those situations, I kind of feel like saying, Uh yeah, I know I can do it, that's why I'm out here and I don't need the likes of you encouraging me! You ever have that same feeling? Where you just want people to shut up?

NS: There's definitely a high amount of peppiness at any racing event and I usually just try to ignore it and zone it out. But they can be peppy. I understand, like your dad is running that race and you really want to encourage him. And then everyone else, you also want to encourage. It's a really positive environment. And I'm glad that it is a positive environment. It can be nasty if people get really competitive.

HD: Have you ever experienced a spectator being not necessarily positive?

NS: No, have you?

HD: Actually, yes. At the D.C. Marine Corps Marathon, there was a woman who had stationed herself in one of the parks and at Mile 20, and at Mile 20 there's a lot of people walking, and she kept up this steady banter of, This is a marathon run, it's not a walk in the park! If you want to go on a walk in the park, you can do that some other time! Today's the day to run! And she was unrelenting and really quite abusive. I think she thought she was helping, you know, that she was displaying that ...

NS: ... the hard love, the tough love?

HD: Exactly. But you know, I just thought, Wow, I'm glad that right now I happen to be running.

NS: When I've done the Dexter-Ann-Arbor Run, there's always the frustration of the people who bring their kids or their dogs or something and they're racing with ...

HD: ... with strollers?? Those are allowed?

NS: In the 10K they are. That's what I did, not the half-marathon. But there's the tension between the real hard-core people, who want to compete, and the other people. Really, if you want to be competitive, at this point the Dexter-Ann-Arbor Run is not the best place to be competitive. Because it is hard to get yourself out there if you're interested in doing that. It's really funny how the statistics are being polarized in that more and more people are running marathons, but more people are becoming obese. So you also have this movement to the extreme sports and people who are really doing it all the time and then people who are completely doing nothing. I don't know if that's some sort of sign of our society, that we either do it all or do none of it.

HD: Well, listen, I'm about ready to call it a day. I'd like to thank you before we dismount for coming over to ride the teeter totter.

NS: My pleasure. I've enjoyed it too.

HD: Okay, let's very carefully dismount ... Wow! See, now, I've never seen that technique used, and it's really kind of an obvious technique, I guess. I'm not sure why you're the only one to have thought of it so far.

NS: I've used it getting off a bike before, too.