TT with HD: Mike Paul
[Ed. note: For the last nine years, MP has made the journey to Ann Arbor to watch a University of Michigan football game. MP knew to make his way over to the totter, because HD made the acquaintance of MP's brother while living in Germany 20 years ago. The conversation begins on the topic of the yet-untreated wood of Totter 2.0, which is mobile.]
MP: Are you going to treat this with something so that you can take it outside?
HD: You know, I don't know what to do about that, because it's cold enough now that most treatments, it's not going to be doable this season, unless I decided to take it inside and decide to stink up the house. So I think I need to put something on it, but I'm not sure what that something will be.
MP: My wife did this--we had a door hanging around the house, an old wooden door, and she painted designs on it. It's this dog we had ascending into heaven, and we wanted to put it in the yard, and I found this marine varnish that they use on boats ...
HD: ... oh, yeah! That's actually what I used on my porch deck, that's great stuff.
MP: Yeah, it's great stuff.
HD: Anything that's designed for boats, I think is about the best you can do, and if that doesn't work, then there's nothing else you could have done. [Ed. note: Futzing with the automatic garage-door opener ensues to force the light to go on.]
MP: Will that stay on?
HD: Well, it'll stay on long enough to do the photography, that's what I was thinking about. Now, let's be very gentle, this has only had one test so far. Before we actually totter, let's get the portrait taken. I'm glad you wore your U of M hat. I think the flash will definitely be required. [Ed. note: Photography and futzing with flashes ensues.]
MP: Did you build this garage?
HD: No, we had that built. It's fairly recent.
MP: It's nice. And is there an apartment upstairs, or a workspace?
HD: That's sort of yet undetermined. Building codes here don't allow you to do a so-called granny flat very easily--you're not supposed to have a living accommodation separate from the main dwelling. So, you know, pull-down stairs, and the lack of anything up there really was meant to make it clear that we are not going to live up there. [Ed. note: HD probably means 'zoning' not 'building codes' but he's not a professional planner.]
HD: But later. The plan is, we can always do it later, yeah!
MP: We actually have a cottage behind our house--we live in College Park which is Maryland, and we rent out the cottage behind our house. And we are in a fight right now with the county government over the legality of that structure.
MP: So, we're doing cool things like interviewing all of our old neighbors.
HD: Oh yeah?
MP: About the history of the house and the cottage. So that we can show that it's an existing use and therefore it's grandfathered-in to when the uses changed sometime in the 70's. And we're learning all sorts of amazing things about our neighborhood.
HD: I bet!
MP: Like that cottage was brought in in the middle of the night, like at 11 o'clock at night in the 50's.
HD: Like a pre-fab kind of deal?
MP: Yeah, like a pre-fab house. The family that owned our house was a local plumbing company and they brought this house in in the middle of the night and set it up on a foundation and they used it to run their business out of for years.
MP: The reason they thought they brought it in in the middle of the night was because you weren't supposed have a business and a dwelling in the same place. So even if they tried to go through the legal--it was back in those days, it more more sort of the wild west, zoning was.
HD: Do you always wear your glasses?
MP: Not always.
HD: Because I'm just looking at the preview and it's pretty dramatically glarey, which I can fix somewhat with Photoshop 1 2 3.
MP: The red-eye reduction worked that time!
HD: Yeah, it sure did. And I'm going to get one more because on the cap, you can't see really that there's an M. 1 2 3 Okay, let's call the photography done and let's actually get some tottering going.
MP: Your light stays on for a long time!
HD: Yeah, that's not really a very green approach.
MP: But that's fine, that's cool.
HD: Alright, so, let's try this out. Hey, welcome to the teeter totter!
MP: It's great to be here!
HD: I am so thrilled that you managed to make it here! So, you are here for the game, not for the teeter totter.
MP: I am here for the game. The teeter totter is a nice bonus, though.
HD: I was looking through your brief bio that I was able to find and trying to piece together how it was that you came to be a fan of Michigan football, and it didn't add up for me. So you'll have to fill in the gap.
MP: It's a good story. I think it was--let's see 9-11 was 2001? Is that right?
HD: Hmm, I think so.
MP: So, this must have been '99 or '98. This is the ninth year so it was '98. I have a friend named Jamie March, who's from Grand Rapids, his father and mother went to the University of Michigan and they were at least second, if not third generation Michigan grads. His brother went to Michigan, and his aunts and uncles all went to Michigan ...
HD: ... so, true blue through and through.
MP: True blue through and through. And we were sitting in Athens, Georgia, in grad school and saying, Oh, man, it would be really fun to go see a Michigan football game someday, wouldn't it, ha ha ha. Because, you know, you pull out an atlas and you go, Wow, that's a long way away. But we finally got a little more serious about it, and they have several sets of tickets in the family that have been there for a long time ...
HD: ... so, you mean season tickets.
MP: Season tickets, yeah. And so he called his Dad up, and his Dad said, Well, I'll get you tickets if you guys want to come. So he got tickets for the Michigan-Notre-Dame game in 1998, which was big. And we set off from Athens, Georgia, after classes on a Friday evening at five o'clock. And the car I had at the time was this blue Escort wagon--we had to the car all decked out in maize and blue, we had written block M's on the windows ...
HD: ... [laugh] ...
MP: ... and we set off. There were three of us, and we set up a bed area in the back. So we turned this little Escort wagon into an RV. And there was one driver and the--what do you call him, the ...
HD: ... navigator?
MP: Yeah, the navigator, sidekick--I can't remember the term, there's of funny term for it, like swing man or something like that but anyway, the side kick, and then the sleeper. And then every three hours we would rotate positions. And we drove all the way through the night and arrived in Ann Arbor the next morning at about 9 or 10 in the morning.
HD: So you had to come through Ohio with this car ...
MP: ... you know, there's a funny story about that. So it was about four or five clock in the morning when we hit the Ohio border, and I would say that the level of unseemly comments made toward the car at five o'clock in the morning was shocking!
MP: And it gave me my first kind of taste of exactly what I was heading into. Yeah, it was unbelievable, I mean, I'm not saying cars of nuns and old ladies, but certainly cars of people that looked very ...
HD: ... peaceful?
MP: Peaceful, would get very un-peaceful.
HD: So, do you remember specifically anything that someone said verbatim?
MP: No. No, it was more hand gestures. And then as a result of that we actually drove through Indiana on the way back, we didn't go through Ohio on the way back. So we arrived in Ann Arbor, and we crashed at his grandmother's house and woke up for the game--which was an afternoon game I believe--and we had lunch, and we went to the game, which was amazing. Michigan won. In the nine years I've been coming, I think I only saw them lose once.
MP: And that was to Ohio State two years ago. And we went to the game, slept that night and got up the next morning early, had breakfast and got in the car drove through Indiana and all the way back to Athens, Georgia. And ever since then, I have invited myself back to a game because I had such a great time.
HD: So, every season, you come to at least one game?
MP: Every season I come to at least one game.
HD: So, this will be the ninth year?
MP: The ninth year, I think.
HD: So, next year will be ten years. [Ed. note: Indeed, HD's arithmetic prowess is breathtaking.]
MP: Yeah, I believe so. Yeah, it's amazing. And the family that I go with, this friend of mine, Jamie March, whose folks are from Grand Rapids, are just really great people. It started, the excuse was to come and see Michigan play, but it's now fairly 50-50 to come spend a weekend with a great grad school buddy, and his great family--as well as to see the football game. So, an excuse to have a dedicated reunion--that's nice.
HD: Do you follow the team at all for football's sake? I mean, do you keep up with who the new recruits are? Can you name off the members of the offensive line?
MP: I can name odd players. I do follow the team throughout the year, but I don't follow their recruiting. I probably follow the recruiting of the University of Georgia football team more than I do the University of Michigan team. But I do follow them throughout the year.
HD: So, you would be able to name the captains of the team?
MP: The captains of the team? I don't know if I could name the captains of the team.
HD: I'm not sure I could, either. The only reason I ask is that I saw a Twitter come through--do you know what a Twitter is?
MP: Huh uh.
HD: Long story. Let's just put it this way: online, I saw an announcement of a pep rally tonight on the Diag of the U of M--which you would probably be able to make. It starts at 6:30, and it's now twenty til 6:00, so.
MP: Or at least part of it, right? It probably goes for while.
HD: I would think so. And I don't think it will start on time. I can't imagine that a pep rally will go off at exactly, precisely at 6:30 p.m. But the captains of the football team are supposed to be there, whoever they may be. There's going to be a pizza eating contest, the marching band. So the Diag should be hopping tonight.
MP: I'll have to see if I can't make my way down there. We're staying with Jamie's aunt, who lives very close to East Stadium. So we're not far from the stadium, where we're actually staying.
HD: So you'll be able to walk to the game tomorrow morning?
MP: Yeah, we'll be able to walk to the game.
HD: So I guess you'll probably want to get over their reasonably early, right?
MP: Yet, I would like to get over there and see the warmup, and get the full effect of the day's activities. Especially tomorrow's game is going to be ...
HD: ... it'll be nuts.
MP: It will be nuts. And it's always fun to walk around the tail-gating areas. The first year I came--another sure sign that this was a unique experience--there was a group of elderly gentlemen dressed as nuns who were baptizing people into Michigan fanhood.
HD: [laugh] Wow. I've never even heard of that.
MP: Yeah, they were set up at the corner opposite the stadium.
HD: Right there in the Pioneer High School field?
MP: Yes. Pioneer High School. Which is where the guy I stay with, his father went to high school there at Pioneer High School. That's another cool thing about coming to the game in Ann Arbor is that Jamie's dad and his mom grew up here, and every time I come, I learn a little bit more about him and his life, and what Ann Arbor was like in the 50's and 60's, and going to that high school, being a student at Michigan during that period.
HD: So, do you feel like you kind of know Ann Arbor? I mean you can find your way around okay?
MP: More and more. Every year I come back I can find my way around more. Especially now that--for a couple of years I would fly to Grand Rapids and come with his parents here ...
HD: ... oh, so you didn't really have to navigate.
MHD: Owner found! [Ed. note: MHD, HD's wife, while walking home from work, took over the search for the owner of a lost dog along Liberty Street from someone who had lost energy for the project.]
MP: That's great!
HD: That's great!
MHD: I was just walking up and down Liberty, and some guy came running up and said [Dog name]! [Dog name]!
MHD: And the puppy jumped all over him, and ...
HD: ... oh great! So, wait up, that was your strategy? Just to walk up and down Liberty??
MP: That's a good strategy.
MHD: Well, I mean, I figured if they were looking ...
HD: ... did you get a clarification of why the information on the tag was a little dodgy?
MHD: Well, I will say this, that dog deserves of better owner.
MHD: He seemed not really concerned that she had gone missing, I mean he was kind of looking for her, but ...
HD: ... kind of more annoyed than concerned about her?
MHD: More annoyed. I said, Well, you know, you might want to change the phone number, because we tried calling it. And he was like, Yeah, yeah, I just haven't gotten around to it yet, you know, we moved, and it's just one of those things that has fallen through the cracks.
HD: I might have to redact the dog's name to protect the innocent canine. Well, that's a load off my mind! Because I was thinking, Alright we're going to have to sequester the cats in the basement, keep the dog overnight until we find the owner.
MP: We were talking about, Do I know Ann Arbor? Unfortunately I don't know Ann Arbor as much as would like to know Ann Arbor. I haven't had enough time to explore the city. Because basically I come in on Friday night, Saturday is game day, and I leave on Sunday. Some year I should come and spend ...
HD: ... well, if you maintain the tradition until you're 90 years old, that would be a nice way to experience Ann Arbor over a lifetime.
MP: Fifty-nine visits, yeah that would be great! [laugh]
HD: So, how did you get here today? What was your route?
MP: This is a funny story, too. So, for years again I would fly into Grand Rapids and come in with his parents, and then I looked at a map one day--and I am shocked to admit this--but I was like, Detroit is right next to Ann Arbor!? I bet instead of paying 600 dollars to fly to this airport in Grand Rapids, I could pay 150 to fly to Detroit, and rent a car and drive there in about thirty minutes. So once I did that, which was about four years ago, it's been a lot easier to get here. So I came from the Detroit airport, I came over on [I-]94, got off on Jackson [Road].
HD: So you took the furthest exit. If you had missed that one you would have had to back-track, I guess.
MP: That was the last exit to Ann Arbor?
HD: Yeah, but I mean it was also the most logical choice for this area of town. So then you came down Jackson Road?
HD: So you haven't even been through downtown yet.
MP: Not this trip. I've spent time downtown. Usually every year I have them make a pilgrimage to the store downtown that sells all the great Michigan garb.
MP: Yes. Is that it? M-Den??
HD: Or Steve and Barry's? You know, I don't know the names of the stores that well.
MP: I think it was named after someone, like has someone's name. Maybe it's M-Den, but maybe Steve and Barry's.
HD: What kind of stuff do they have in there?
MP: It's all Michigan clothing.
HD: But is it a bookstore?
MP: No, just clothing. Just Michigan stuff. And so we go there every year and I get a new article of clothing. After nine years I'm starting to run out of clothing.
HD: Any particular item you have in mind to look for this year?
MP: This year, I'm thinking either of replacing my Michigan sweatshirt, or going with Michigan sweat pants. So there's always something new. I've got three hats, and shirts, but I don't have any pants, so maybe like some sweat pants--maybe like an outer pant that you could wear on a rainy day--since it may actually rain tomorrow.
HD: Yeah, it's not clear what the weather is going to do. But it's football weather! I mean, like today, for example, would have been a great day for football.
MP: Crisp and cool that's the way to play.
HD: Have you followed any of the controversy surrounding the stadium renovations?
HD: Are you even aware of that has an issue?
MP: No. What are they planning? More seats?
HD: Maybe a few additional seats. I think the main deal is luxury boxes, luxury suites to appeal to the ...
MP: ... yeah, I kind of remember hearing them talk about that last year, the folks that I was with.
HD: It seems like it's just going to happen. The ball is rolling and the only thing that might stop it at this point, is if the Regents decide to reverse their approval, which I mean, why would they?
MP: I know the big one a few years ago was the creation of a fee, the sort of Alumni Association donation ...
HD: ... for the season tickets.
MP: For the season tickets. Which had not existed before. I think had not existed before. I remember people talking about it, like, I'm going to have to pay more money if I want to keep the season tickets in the family?? Whereas before, you could inherit season tickets, like Jamie, we have his grandparents' tickets now that have been passed down, and I think actually his son, who is about five years old, is the actual holder of the tickets.
HD: [laugh] So they will be in the family for while.
MP: Yeah, and they will be in the family for while. No pressure, you can go anywhere you want, as long as it's in Ann Arbor.
HD: So, you have kids, right?
MP: I do. I have one daughter, who is three and half years old.
HD: Three and a half years. So in 15 years, maybe 14, she'll be making college choices.
MP: She will be.
HD: You wouldn't mind if she came to the University of Michigan.
MP: Not one bit. That would be great. Then I could visit her.
HD: One additional reason to come see a football game.
MP: Right. And I wouldn't get as much of an eye-rolling from my wife, when I say, Yes, I'm going to Ann Arbor again to see a football game! I'm going to see our daughter!
HD: Have you ever thought to try to drag her along?
MP: I have tried a couple of times, and there is much debate, and accusation over exactly how those conversations come down, which will usually unravel something like, Oh, the tickets are that inexpensive--why aren't you taking me and Harper with you?? Well, I asked you if you wanted to come, you said, No, I don't want to go see a football game. Or something like that.
HD: You said she's good friends with Jamie, or did you say KB?
MP: KB is my wife, Jamie is my friend.
HD: Got it.
MP: Jamie's wife is Sarah. And Sarah and KB are friends.
HD: Yeah, this business about whether you're invited, I think it's a tricky thing in American culture. For example, I state somewhere on the Teeter Talk website, that there's basically an open invitation to anyone who wants to come ride. Yet, I'm frequently confronted with, Well, you have never invited me.
HD: And while it might be true that I have not personally invited that person specifically, it's not like I can invite every one individually. Which I do--I do invite a lot of people individually.
MP: Do you think that the first crop has been more be aggressive person, who's willing to say, Hey, I want to ride the teeter totter!
HD: There's been only a handful of people who have volunteered spontaneously.
MP: Oh, really.
HD: I wish there would be more. Because it makes it that much easier. The whole business of trying to convince them that this is something that they really ought to want to do, that threshold is already met, and you can focus on just the scheduling. So if the only thing to do is to schedule, and then that would be my ideal scenario. What I need is a personal assistant ...
MP: ... [laugh] ...
HD: ... who will arrange these things. And just tell me, Okay, so-and-so is coming over, here's their file, enough information for you two to have an interesting conversation. As it is, I have to look up everything myself. So I looked up your academic background, which is like stream ecosystems?
MP: Yep. Stream ecosystem ecology, very good. God bless the internets--as our leader would say.
HD: So, here locally there has been a lot of interest in rain barrels as a way of helping to protect the watershed, the Huron River watershed. In fact, the City of Ann Arbor set up a new storm water assessment fee system ...
MP: ... utility? Yeah. We don't call it a tax, people don't like taxes. It has various other names. Storm water utility is commonly used. Storm water assessment fee is a good one.
HD: So, they changed the system to be instead of a flat fee for everybody, to be a function of how much impervious surface you've got. They did an over-fly, did some infrared photography ...
MP: ... digitized your footprint, your impervious footprint.
HD: Yeah, it's great. You go online if you want to appeal, to see which areas of your lot have been defined as impervious for this purpose ...
MP: ... wow ...
HD: ... if they mis-identified something, you can print off the photograph, mark the way what it should be. From what I've heard it's a pretty smooth system. They don't come out and challenge you to prove anything.
MP: And then you can get credits for putting in things like rain barrels?
HD: You can get credits, yeah, for putting in a rain barrel. Which is why I've got--well, it's in the middle of the yard right now, but I'm just in the middle of putting it away for the season.
MP: We don't have a storm water utility where we live in the People's Republic of Maryland. Which is surprising, you would think ...
HD: ... do people actually say that?
MP: We call it that, yeah. We affectionately call it that--because we feel like we're more progressive ...
HD: ... because here, people will call it the People's Republic of Ann Arbor.
MP: Oh, really? Yeah, we call it the People's Republic of Maryland. We have some very progressive policies on growth and green infrastructure and smart growth. We have very aggressive long-range planning that's been done by the state on where growth can occur. And there's lots of credits given to growing or developing in areas that are targeted for growth. And pretty hefty fines for developing in areas that aren't designated as growth areas. And we have the flush fee, which is 11 dollars on every water bill that you get every quarter that goes into storm water retrofit and restoration activity statewide to protect the Bay.
HD: And which bay is that?
MP: The Chesapeake Bay. But we don't have a storm water utility. I, for one, am a very big fan of the storm water utility. What we did at our house--we bought this 100-year-old house in Riverdale, Maryland, which is right next to College Park. And Kathryn, my wife's sister, she is the producer of a television show called Curb Appeal, which is on Home and Garden Television, which re-does the front of your house. So we got selected, and in planning the front of our house, we were able to design a native garden ...
HD: ... oh, like a rain garden?
MP: Like a rain garden. But it uses all native plants. And then we designed the house so that there is zero run-off from our house into any public storm water sewer system. So, I took up all the concrete skirts around house, and any concrete around the house, filled about two dumpster's worth of concrete.
HD: Did you do that by hand, with a sledge hammer? Or did you hire some guy with a jack-hammer?
MP: No, I rented a jack-hammer from Home Depot.
HD: Oh, so you yourself ran the jack-hammer??
MP: Yeah. And I think that's why I blew out my meniscus in my knee. I ended up having knee surgery, I spent so many days on top of that. But I got all of this concrete up, and put in open drains, like French drains. We have rain barrels--well, we don't have rain barrels yet but the runoff goes into these pits, these four-foot deep, two-feet wide trenches that are filled with pea gravel. And the water is stored there basically, in an aquifer, and the water evaporates up through the rock. So, we had some rain barrels in, but we took them out. And we need to get some new ones put in, but ...
HD: ... so why did you take them out? Was it an aesthetic issue?
MP: Well, no, the landscape people that did the show put in the rain barrels and then came and got them.
HD: Oh! So, they staged it??!
MP: They staged it!
MP: But, you know, because we have the pebble trenches there, [the rain barrels] they're not really necessary. It would be nice to have it for watering, but we don't need it to prevent water going off from the house.
HD: So, if you wanted to use the water then you would need ...
MP: ... then we would need the rain barrels ...
HD: ... but as far as the ecological principal, okay.
MP: Right. So, we have three spouts off the house. And I really would like to calculate the flow, the amount of water that comes off the house in a storm. It's pretty easy--you estimate like a half-inch storm, with the area of your roof, how much water would actually come off, and calculate how much water storage we get. But one of the drains they did put in to really a designed eastern coastal plain wet plant community. They built that around one of the drains. And that community just thrives. One of the cool things was, I don't know if you guys got hit by the drought, this summer, but we were in a pretty rough drought this year.
HD: In Maryland?
HD: Wow. Okay, I thought that was--I mean, I read about it in the South.
MP: The Southeast is really bad. I'd just saw on TV tonight actually as I was coming through, that apparently Georgia has convinced the Corps of Engineers not to release as much water out of Lake Lanier, to hold back ...
HD: ... which lake is that?
MP: Lake Lanier is a reservoir north of Atlanta that provides the drinking water for the city. My wife worked for the Chattahoochee Riverkeeper for five years, when I was still finishing grad school, so we're pretty connected to that river system. But I saw on the news tonight--it was breaking news--that they decided to hold back more water, not release as much water for Alabama and Florida, which is a problem for the animals. The reason that Florida needs the water is to protect the fisheries in the Apalachicola Bay. That's a bummer. Hopefully they'll get rain soon, and this will all stop.
HD: Or yeah, some credit. Because I mean, everybody uses roads.
MP: Right, everyone uses roads and parking lots.
HD: So it seems like there's some base fee that might be part of it.
MP: And everyone loves streams! They are threatened by the development that's happened in the past and we have to do something to mitigate that, and the money has to come from somewhere. So it's smart, but I wonder if it will force people to build a lot taller homes that are smaller, like row homes like on individual lots? [laugh] Or green roofs. Are they doing anything with green roofs in this city?
HD: Yeah, actually there's an appliance store called Big George's out on Stadium Boulevard. They recently built a new building and their motto is--I'm trying to think, The little superstore. Or something like that. The small superstore? They have a lot of appliances, but they're still family-owned, very community- and locally-oriented type enterprise. But anyway, they put a green roof on that building. [Ed. note: the motto is "Biggest Little Superstore.]
MP: Wow! That's a big cost for a small business.
HD: I think maybe some of the cost, there was some kind of break that the City gave. I'm not certain about that.
MP: So, will they get a storm water utility credit?
HD: That may have been part of the deal. I'm not sure. But they've got a green roof. The business school here at the University of Michigan, I think was making noises about putting a green roof on one of the buildings, but I'm not sure if that was just a plan or if they've already executed on it, or what.
MP: That's great.
HD: Definitely green roofs are part of the community discussion and vocabulary.
MP: Really, in urban areas, the principal impact from urbanization is on the natural flow of streams. So the extent to which you can restore some of the natural hydrology, it will go a long way toward protecting streams. Chemistry is only part of it. The physical flow is the other part.
HD: You know, Michigan Stadium over there with the Crisler Arena parking lot, that's actually very near the head waters of what used to be Allen Creek, which is now an underground pipe.
MP: I've heard about that.
HD: You've heard about Allen Creek? Yeah, there's an effort locally to 'free' the creek.
MP: To daylight that.
HD: Right, to daylight the creek. It's one of those cases where I think a hundred years ago that would have made a lot more sense, or maybe not 100 years, maybe 10 years after they put it in a pipe, but there has been so much development that it's kind of hard to see how that would work--for me anyway. It's not hard to see for a some people. And they just say, Yeah, well, of course we just have to do this now.
MP: There's a lot of stadiums that are built on creeks. Because if you think about it, a creek is a ravine-type feature ...
HD: ... so there is a natural bowling ...
MP: ... right, so, at the University of Georgia there's a creek--what was it called? Mmm, Tanyard Branch--that went under the stadium, and there's this cool history where there used to be a tanning yard on the headwaters of this creek and then at one point there was a well, it became a water source for drinking water, and now the headwaters are sort of student apartments, and they built the stadium over it. And a few years back they kept noticing--or at least there is a story that they noticed--they were having fecal coliform violations on weekends in the fall.
HD: So I asked about the possibility of your bringing your wife along some year. Have you given any thought to bringing your brother, David, along?
MP: Well, yeah! Especially now! I didn't even know that you lived here! This all started like seven months ago. David said like, Well, are you going to Michigan this fall? You gotta go look up Dave and take a ride on the teeter totter! I said, Alright! So I started reading the website. So, yeah, I'd love to bring David, not even just for the football game--he'd love to see you, I'm sure.
HD: So do you guys get a chance to see each other in person on regular basis, or?
MP: Not as regular as I would like. But we probably get together four or five times a year. Yeah, it's good. I'm heading up there for New Year's. We'll be at home for Christmas, up there for New Year's. Dave comes into D.C. usually once or twice a year for business, and then we have a big family get-together at least once in the summer, and then I usually take Harper up, or all three of us go up some other time during the year.
HD: Harper is your daughter?
MP: Harper is my daughter. So yeah, I get to see him a lot. I wish it were more. You know, it's sort of hard to be the brother that lives away. Both my brothers live within about twenty minutes of my parents. So, you get the call on Friday night, Hey we're all playing Scrabble!
HD: Wish you were here!
MP: Yeah, Wish you were here, what are you doing? I'm, um, changing diapers! No, I'm sure he would love to come. Are you from Michigan?
HD: No, I'm from southern Indiana, and we sort of wound up here. It wasn't by design, that we said, Ahh, one day, we will live in Ann Arbor! That would just be the greatest! But it has a very midwestern feel to the place, we feel pretty comfortable here. Both my wife and I are from Indiana--she grew up in Indianapolis, so.
MP: Where in Indiana are you from?
HD: Columbus, Indiana.
MP: Is that close to Kentucky?
HD: You know, culturally, very.
MP: Is it bluegrass country?
HD: It's not really bluegrass country that way. If you listen to people talk, you might think easily that you were in Kentucky.
MP: Wasn't Bill Monroe from southern Indiana?
HD: I don't know if he was from there, but he played the Bluegrass Festival in Bean Blossom, Indiana, which made it a pretty famous venue, that one year when Bill Monroe came and played.
MP: I remember hearing somewhere that he was from southern Indiana.
HD: He may have been.
MP: I've always been fascinated, but I've never been to southern Indiana. I mean, I have been all over the country, but southern Indiana is a region I've never been to, but would love to visit, because I've heard good things culturally about it as far as music. I tend to think about music as far as culture. I'm big into music. I've heard great things about music in southern Indiana.
HD: Have you ever heard the expression that Indiana he is the middle finger of the South?
MP: [laugh] No!
HD: Well, if you look at a map, it makes a certain geographic sort of sense to it, and culturally in makes a great deal of sense as well. At least for the part of Indiana that goes up to Indianapolis. North of Indianapolis is more, I think ...
MP: ... classic midwestern?
HD: Well, yeah, it was settled--as best I remember from my Indiana history in elementary school--I think that part the state was settled from east-to-west from Ohio across. And the southern part of the state was settled south-to-north from Kentucky. Well, listen, do you have anything else you want to make sure you get out here on the totter? This is kind of a big deal--this is the first time to totter with Totter 2.0. I mean, not the very first ride--we tested it out first, but it is the first Talk.
MP: I'm really digging the sound that it's generating, it has of very marine feel, it's ...
HD: ... kind of like a swaying mast.
MP: It's kind of like being on a creaking ship.
HD: I'm hoping that I can hear to transcribe. That's what I've been thinking about the last fifteen minutes, since it started doing that, I'm like, Oh my god, what's that going to be like to hear through. I think it's--see there, where the pipe is rubbing ...
MP: ... yeah, rubbing against the side, yep.
HD: I need to figure some solution out.
MP: Maybe a teflon o-ring.
HD: Yeah, I was thinking some sort of plastic something-or-other.
MP: No, I mean, I've read several of the totter conversations and I'm honored to be one of the people. I really enjoyed especially the one with the woman who channeled ...
HD: .. who channeled Aaron?
MP: Yeah, that was very cool.
HD: Yes, indeed.
MP: You should have her on the totter again.
HD: Yeah, you know ...
MP: You did? You had her on again?
MP: How are you about that? What's the policy on return visits?
HD: That's an interesting question. No one has really asked.
MP: No one has seen a transcript and said, I want to totter again, I want to clear up some things!
HD: Yeah, I have something to add now! That really hasn't come up, yet. No, I have never really noodled that through. I guess I'll have to if someone wants to ride second time. But, yeah, I was a little ambivalent, because I was interested in having her on the totter and in the possibility she would channel Aaron right there on the totter. But it would have felt a little bit awkward to me to just flat out ask her, and say, Hey, I'd like you to do this now! in the way that you would ask somebody to do a party trick. So, I dunno, it kind of came up naturally as it turned out, so I was happy that that happened, and I was happy that it evolved more-or-less organically as a part of the conversation.
MP: Yeah, it was just very cool.
HD: Alright, well, let's get you fed, if you need something to eat, and then maybe off to the pep rally, if that is something you would like to do.
MP: That would be great!
HD: Let's dismount.