Colleen Zimmerman

Colleen Zimmerman
development professional; KU grad; beagle owner; military mom; frequent traveler; 'recent' arrival;
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Tottered on: 1 July 2008
Temperature: 75 F
Ceiling: random high clouds
Ground: longish grass
Wind: WSW at 8 mph

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TT with HD: Colleen Zimmerman

HD: Okay, wait a second. Alright.

CZ: [laugh] We've got to get an equilibrium here, right?

HD: Yeah, right. So I didn't actually officially welcome you to the teeter totter. So, welcome!

CZ: Thank you! I'm glad to be here!

HD: So, you know my neighbors across the street, Bob and Katie?

CZ: I do!

HD: So this isn't the first time on the street, then?

CZ: No, I've been to their house several times.

HD: Oh, really! And you have looked across the street and seen my house then. So you are familiar with ...

CZ: ... with the street, with the house that's for sale down the street--since my husband and I are looking for a house to buy.

HD: Are you really? Could we be neighbors?!

CZ: Perhaps. We don't know if actually the house is big enough for us.

HD: Really. So do you have kids that you have to fit into the house?

CZ: No, just the two of us. And two dogs.

HD: Well, the two dogs could be an issue. What size dogs are they?

CZ: We have two beagles.

HD: From my days at the Humane Society I know this about beagles: they like to run.

CZ: They do.

HD: They get a scent in their nose and they've just got to go find out where it's coming from.

CZ: That's exactly right.

HD: But they are not huge dogs.

CZ: No. But, we both work a lot so we like to have separate spaces. We have our own separate spaces to work in. We have a common space, and we typically have spaces where we leave one another at night after dinner and go work.

HD: Well, the way these houses are configured, that house I'm sure is the same layout as what mine is ...

CZ: ... I think so ...

HD: ... so on the second floor you've got a bedroom and then another bedroom apiece. For your own room. So that's three rooms, right? That's all you need.

CZ: One bathroom, though, right?

HD: One bathroom. Typically. Now there might be a bathroom in the basement that you could make into someone's own bathroom.

CZ: Without disclosing too much information, I have seen more than one bathroom in one of these houses.

HD: Yeah? It's not illegal, you know, to have more than one bathroom, I don't think. [laugh]

CZ: That I know. Bathrooms are very important to me, though.

HD: So you like to have your own dedicated space?

CZ: Space. And a big tub.

HD: A big tub, okay. Well it's interesting, you know, I don't remember your mentioning tubs in any of the reviews that you have written for TripAdvisor.

CZ: [??]

HD: I spent the afternoon reading your entire oeuvre of reviews.

CZ: [laugh] [laugh] Is that right?

HD: Well, sure, I like to do at least a little bit of background work.

CZ: What do I usually ... ?

HD: ... well, what I was impressed by is that you are willing to give these hotels credit for effort. So even if the outcome may be was not optimal, you were still willing to acknowledge that, okay, they got some points for making the effort. So if the staff actually made an effort as opposed to just saying, I dunno, sorry, hot crab legs--I have no idea where to get them.

CZ: [laugh]

HD: There was some place where you couldn't get a good recommendation for crab legs. I forget where that was exactly.

CZ: Oh! It was, I think, in Naples Florida. [laugh] And my colleagues and I, we wanted to go out for a nice dinner after a long week of work, and we were sent to somewhat of a Joe Crabshack-esque place--that's not what we had wanted.

HD: Wasn't authentic local cusine?

CZ: That's right.

HD: So you asked at the hotel, Where can we get ...

CZ: ... exactly, we asked, Where could we go to get a nice seafood dinner? and we were pointed in the direction of this--well, a restaurant I would not go to typically. Especially after a long week of work and everybody is tired, and everybody wants to have a nice relaxing dinner.

HD: It seemed to me that your main criticism there was not the fact that you didn't actually get the seafood that you were looking for, but it was like there was no effort that the staff made, they were just not interested really in trying to ...

CZ: ... yeah, because most of the time, even if you stay at a bad property, or 'insufficient' property, the staff will try to make up for it in different ways.

HD: That's why it was important for me to get the mosquito coils out here. I don't know if they work actually. But I figured, even if we get eaten alive by mosquitoes, that if you see them, and if you write a review of this experience you will at least sort of give me credit for having made the effort.

CZ: Totally! And with the mosquito spray, too! The Skintastic (TM) mosquito spray!

HD: Yeah, I figured that was the cherry on top. So, there was this other review that you wrote that I thought was kind of cryptic. It was for the Tsunami Asian Sushi bar in Las Vegas? Or something.

CZ: Oh, Tsunami, yes, I haven't eaten there for a very long time!

HD: But you described it as a good place to celebrity-watch.

CZ: It is!

HD: So that must mean you've actually seen some celebrities there?

CZ: I have!

HD: Please share!

CZ: [laugh] Well, in Las Vegas you can celebrity-watch a lot. I mean, they are everywhere. But the Tsunami, it's funny--that's a great restaurant, by the way. It's a great restaurant. I have seen many, many major sports figures there. Especially basketball players.

HD: Like, for example?

CZ: Well, they're not coming to the top of my head right now, the names.

HD: Kobe Bryant? Kevin Garnett?

CZ: Could be. I don't know.

HD: Larry Bird?

CZ: [laugh] Not Larry Bird. I know Larry Bird. I probably would have been able to tell you, but it's been years since I've been there.

HD: Oh, okay. Well, it can't be that long ago, because you only started doing those reviews in like, what, 2003 or 2004 or something like that?

CZ: No, earlier than that. It had to be earlier than that, because the last time probably that I ate there was like 2002, something like that.

HD: The interesting thing about those reviews is there's two Ann Arbor hotels that you reviewed in late 2005 and early 2006, I think.

CZ: Oh!

HD: And from that I deduced that--well, if you are staying at the Residence Inn in Ann Arbor, that you didn't live in Ann Arbor at that point.

CZ: That's right!

HD: So that was right around the time I started this enterprise. Late 2005 early 2006. So your time in Ann Arbor actually postdates the start of this enterprise. And I think that's a first. Somebody that lives in Ann Arbor now, who moved here after I started Teeter Talk.

CZ: Yeah, I moved here late January of 2006.

HD: So, how do you like it so far?

CZ: I love it.

HD: Feel like home yet?

CZ: Hmm, no.

HD: Huh. So what do we need to do to fix that?

CZ: [laugh]

HD: Move on to our street!

CZ: [laugh] We could do that, we could do that! Here's why it doesn't feel like home. We still have a house in Kansas. My husband and I still own a house in Kansas.

HD: Are you trying to sell it?

CZ: Yes. And we've had multiple offers. And one that went through until almost closing, then fell through three days or so before closing.

HD: Oh, man. Was there any particular reason, or just bad luck?

CZ: Buyer financing. I think mortgage financing is much more strict now.

HD: Oh, they're not just sort of throwing money at people now anymore.

CZ: Yes. That was just a couple of weeks ago that this happened. So we received a new offer this morning, and the good news is that the buyers are pre-approved, so that's a positive thing. But they, in our opinion, gave us a pretty lowball offer, because the house is empty and they think we need to sell it. Which is not really the case.

HD: But they figure, what can it hurt, right?

CZ: Why not. I would've done the same thing. [laugh] So we countered this afternoon.

HD: So, have you heard back from the counter, yet?

CZ: No. That's why I left my phone in the car.

HD: Ah! But wait a second, you would want to know for sure, right?

CZ: That's okay, it can wait.

HD: Oh, that just proves your point, then, that it's not that you need to sell it urgently.

CZ: Right. That's right. So, having a home in Kansas, and leasing a place here, we still kind of feel transient.

HD: It's like you're still kind of making the transition.

CZ: Right.

HD: So was your area of Kansas affected by the recent flooding at all?

CZ: No.

HD: Because my hometown of Columbus, Indiana--I didn't realize it at the time--it was only about a week later when I called a buddy of mine--he no longer lives in Columbus, either, but he has family there still--and he was telling me about the Red Cross center, and he was talking about it, and he assumed that I knew, and I had no idea what he was talking about. He e-mailed me some pictures of the high school gymnasium flooded, and I was like, What, did a pipe burst? What's going on here? So I didn't have the whole flooding context.

It's very weird when you see your hometown in the newsreel footage. It's that kind of newsreel footage where usually you think, Come on, people, what did you build your houses there for?? And when it's your hometown, you think, Oh, that's a perfectly reasonable place to build a house. Of course!

CZ: Well, this particular year, they say some places in Iowa, in Indiana, it was a 300-year flood, so there's no way you can get around that.

HD: Anyway, we'll bounce back. Or they will bounce back.

CZ: Sure.

HD: Before we get completely off the topic of reviews that you have written for TripAdvisor about hotels, there is one you that you did for a place in Oceanside. The Guesthouse or something in Oceanside, California. And I thought, Wow, I think I've actually stayed there.

CZ: Now I'm kind of scared.

HD: Let's see, this would have been back in like 1994.

CZ: That you stayed there?

HD: That I stayed there--well, I thought that maybe I stayed there. Based on the location and based on the name. I knew that I had stayed at some place right outside Camp Pendleton, because I was doing this bicycle trip from San Diego up to Irvine--through Camp Pendleton--and then turned around and came back the same day. And basically I konked out in the middle of Camp Pendelton. It was raining, it was dark, night had fallen

CZ: It's big, Camp Pendleton.

HD: Yeah, I'm in the middle of Camp Pendleton with this tiny little bicycle headlight trying to find my way out of there, I'm totally physically exhausted, and I'm just thinking, As soon as I get out of Camp Pendleton, I am staying at the first place I see. [The place you reviewed] seemed like a good candidate [for the place I stayed]. So I hopped on Google Street View, and I was actually able to kind of re-live a huge part of that trip. And it turns out that the place that you reviewed was like a quarter mile down the road from the place that I actually stayed. I actually stayed at a Travel Lodge or something, and you stayed at the Guest Inn or somthing. Lodges, Inns, they're close.

CZ: That's funny.

HD: Yeah, you didn't give that one a real positive review.

CZ: It was not one of the best places I've ever stayed. It was probably one of the scariest places I have every stayed. I was with my sons.

HD: Yeah, you had protection along. Now they are in the Marines, is that the deal?

CZ: My youngest son was a Marine. He's now in the Army.

HD: Okay, so he's still in the thick of it. So is he stationed stateside, or?

CZ: He is currently at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. He's in the military police, and he's shooting for special operations right now.

HD: Which would be like the Army Rangers?

CZ: I'm not quite sure, actually. I think it's probably those people they send into places where I don't want him to be. That would be my guess.

HD: So you are less than enthusiastic about that?

CZ: That's his choice. He's an adult. So that's his choice. And so I support what he does.

HD: So would he be kick-ass at that? I mean is he the kind of guy who can 'take care of business', as they say?

CZ: Yeah. Yes. And before I go on, my oldest son, too, is in the Army National Guard. He is getting ready for his third deployment.

HD: To?

CZ: To Iraq. So he'll be going into Iraq. His first deployment, he went to Germany to relieve the active Army when they went into Afghanistan--in 2002, I think. Not too long after 9/11. And then he has had one subsequent active tour of duty in Iraq. So he's getting ready to go back.

HD: So, did you grow up in an Army family, or did your husband come from an Army family? Or was it the 9/11 event that ... ?

CZ: ... no. My dad was in the Navy. Like most men in the 50's, he just did his duty and went home. My husband came from a Marine Corps family. Although he spent some time in the Marine Corps, he didn't spend a lot of time in it. And my husband is my second husband--he's not the father of my two boys. The father of my two boys is--they have no military background whatsoever.

The boys, they are let's see, 28 and almost 27. My oldest son joined the Army National Guard out of nowhere. And actually in Kansas it's quite common for kids to join a National Guard unit to help with floods and tornadoes and that sort of thing. It's just something that a lot of kids do, and this was all pre-9/11, and so they were both in the military before 9/11. It changed their world, actually.

HD: 9/11 did? Yeah, I bet.

CZ: Very unexpectedly.

HD: This is his third deployment, so you've got the routine sort of down of how you keep in touch? Is it electronic mail, cell phone, how does that work, what are the logistics of that?

CZ: Well, e-mail is fabulous. Instant messaging is fabulous. I mean depending on where they are. The last time my oldest son was in Iraq, he was stationed in Baghdad, so he had access to pretty good internet access, and so he could go out on a whatever you call it ...

HD: ... a patrol?

CZ: Yeah. And come back and send me an instant message and say, Okay, I'm back! I mean, that sort of thing. So I talk to him electronically all the time. We don't talk on the cell phone for long, because they are both married, and so they reserve that time for talking to their wives--as it should be. I guess I'm just grateful. I think about World War II, and previous wars where moms had to wait for weeks on end, months on end, before they could hear from their sons.

HD: And you might get a letter, and you might not.

CZ: And I just think how lucky we are in this age, if we have to be in this situation, that we have access to electronic communication.

HD: But in a way, if he is like e-mailing you, Okay I'm going out on patrol--I mean, I can only imagine because I don't have kids--but if it were me and my kid's emailing me that he's going out on patrol this morning, I'm going to say, Look, dude, don't tell me you're going out on patrol, tell me you got back from patrol safe. That's all I want to hear about going on patrol. That you got back safe. Don't tell me you're going out. Because I would worry the entire day.

CZ: I don't worry about the guys. I don't. Well, no, that's not true. I worry about them all the time, but ...

HD: ... but not on like a minute-to-minute basis?

CZ: No, you can't. You can't live your life and you can't be a good military mom if, in fact, you act that way. Our job is to be completely supportive. And I mean you are completely supportive. So going back your question about wanting to know or not, I suppose it probably depends on the person. I want to know.

HD: So you have worked out what the level of detail is that works for both of you?

CZ: Yeah. And I would tell you that I don't know everything. I know I don't know everything. So they tell me what they want me to hear. But that's their job.

HD: So, the phrase how to be a 'good military mom', I mean you didn't just coin that phrase right here on the teeter totter.

CZ: No.

HD: That's just a part of the vocabulary? I guess there's like--I don't know--what do they call them, e-mail newsgroups ...

CZ: ... yeah, there's online support groups. Right.

HD: So do people discuss what counts as being a 'good military mom', what counts as being a 'good military wife', that sort of thing?

CZ: Absolutely. Not only online, but also in person. When a unit deploys, they will have what's called 'key volunteers' that are back home at the base, or not even at the base. If they are reserve units--like they would come out of Ann Arbor, if they were based here. And it would be volunteers--mothers, fathers, husbands, wives--that help take care of everyone who's left behind while the troops are gone.

And so you learn very quickly that our job as a family that stays home is to be supportive, and to be positive, and to never ask questions or disclose information that may put your family member in harm's way, or their unit in harm's way. Kind of like Giraldo Rivera drawing in the sand on television? I would have taken him out myself had I been standing there! Because he was putting someone's sons and daughters and husbands and wives at risk. Not only himself, but also those folks who have volunteered to protect our country.

So yeah, you learn that fairly quickly. And it's very hard for some people. It's very hard for some people, because they don't understand, they don't see the big picture perhaps.

HD: So you're not really allowed to indulge in whining and bellyaching about how hard it is for you to be left behind?

CZ: We encourage people not to do that. Because when a soldier is halfway across the world on the other side of the world in the middle of a war zone, he doesn't want to hear his wife say she got a flat tire and she can't change it. I mean, he wants to hear that, but he can't do anything about it, and it takes his mind or her mind off of their mission at hand, which could put them at risk. So what we try to do--and any time I have been involved with the military in a volunteer position--you try to educate people as best as possible. And then you try to support people, families, everyone is much is possible.

HD: So, I didn't have a chance to look at the back of your car to check it for bumper stickers ...

CZ: ... [laugh] ...

HD: ... and for all I know it you've got one of these bumper stickers, or like one of these magnetic yellow ribbon things that says Support the Troops, or what have you. What do you make of that?

CZ: I don't have one. And I've never had one.

HD: I suppose the question [about such bumper stickers] is: As opposed to what?

CZ: [laugh] Right. That's really good, that's right.

HD: I mean, What position are you taking, what ground are you staking out by saying, Support the troops?

CZ: Yeah, you're right. I guess I just see that as somebody who stopped at a truck stop or a Wal-Mart and picked that up and slapped on their car. I would never do it.

HD: So you're not a big fan of stuff like that?

CZ: No. Because my kids consider what they do as voluntary, and as their job. And so it would be like putting a bumper sticker on that says Support your Local Chef! Or line cook, you know what I mean? It would be something like that. My boys consider it part of their duty, so I think it's weird, but.

HD: Are you planning to go to the Fourth of July parade here in Ann Arbor?

CZ: Mm, no.

HD: Are you actively planning not to go, or it just hadn't occurred to you as something to do?

CZ: I actually saw that it was there in the paper the other day. It would be something that I normally wouldn't do.

HD: Really? So growing up in Kansas, you guys didn't have Fourth of July parades, or?

CZ: Yeah, I think we did, but I didn't go. I mean I like parades, don't get me wrong. I don't know, I wouldn't go to a Fourth of July parade.

HD: Okay. Let me put in a plug for this year's parade anyway. Only because I'm going to be dragging the portable teeter totter down Main Street as part of it.

CZ: Awesome!

HD: The title of the entry is going to be the Totters of the American Revolution

CZ: [laugh] That's awesome!

HD: Now, you get that right?

CZ: Yes!

HD: A lot of people don't. And I have to explain it to them. And if you have to explain it to people it sucks a fun right on out of it.

CZ: I like that, yeah. [laugh]

HD: So the plan is to have Old Glory on one end and the Union Jack on the other end. And I'm a little bit worried, because you don't necessarily want to be flying a British flag in a Fourth of July parade just on its own, but you know I figure it fits in the theme ...

CZ: ... people saw John Adams on HBO this year.

HD: John Adams on HBO?

CZ: The series of John Adams. Have you ...

HD: ... no. I don't know what you're talking about.

CZ: There's a biography of John Adams and they made it into a miniseries on HBO that played--let's see, this is June--so this spring. So it documented the real story of our founding fathers, not the--as I would say--the history-book version of the creation of our country. So I think a lot of people were educated in how it actually happened, the events that actually took place, through the eyes of John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and that sort of thing.

HD: And they were a womanizing crew weren't they?

CZ: Mm, I think so. Well, what I learned was the close relationship that John and Abigail Adams had, at least from what the story was. I don't know it to be true, but. It was very moving.

HD: I'm just a little concerned, that the whole concept [Totters of the American Revolution] is playful, it's meant to be playful and I don't want it to come off as disrespectful. People take the flag seriously.

CZ: They do.

HD: And you know that's fine, I've got no problem with people taking it seriously. I just don't want to inadvertently piss somebody off.

CZ: But any time you fly a flag, won't you always piss somebody off? Somebody.

HD: Maybe, I guess.

CZ: Maybe I'm cynical. [laugh]

HD: [laugh] So I have actually reviewed--there is something called the Flag Code, I don't know who maintains it ...

CZ: ... on how the flag is to be treated and that sort of thing.

HD: Yeah. And I remember, I was a Boy Scout, so we learned the basic rudiments of how to treat a flag. But yeah, there's elaborate rules of where a flag has to be in parade formation. And if there's another country's flag involved, where the U.S. flag has to be relative to it.

CZ: Is there a height requirement, or?

HD: There's height issues. There is left-right issues. And there is this notion of the flag's 'own left' and the flag's 'own right'. So depending on perspective. I haven't been able to figure out exactly what that means.

CZ: Well, the only reference I may have to that is on the kid's uniforms, their flag patch on one of their arms seems to be the opposite way of what I think ...

HD: ... of what you would expect.

CZ: Right.

HD: Actually on the Flag Code webpage they have a picture of some General with his flag patch with exactly that comment, It looks wrong but as a matter of fact it's right. And here's why.

CZ: Yeah! Interesting. I think you should do it anyway.

HD: Well, I plan to do it, and I'm going to rely on the parade marshals to advise me if I'm screwing it up. The idea is I want to have the American flag--you know the round version with the stars--I don't know exactly what period that is from. So back when there was a round field of stars, back when there were only however many states there were of us.

CZ: I know what you're talking about. Where the stripes go down, right? Or not?

HD: I think the stripes are the same as they always are. It's just that the stars, there were just enough of them that they make a perfect circle. I think maybe that's the way the flag was during the war of 1812 or something? [Ed. note: This is the so-called Betsy Ross flag.]

CZ: I'm unfamiliar with that.

HD: Anyway, I happen to have a flag like that. And I happen to have a Union Jack. So I think if I get the U.S. flag, I believe it has to be on the right-hand side as I am coming towards people, that's my understanding.

CZ: Got it. Okay.

HD: But I'm going to affix them in a way so that I can swap them out easily if somebody says, No, you've got it wrong. I mean if somebody says, No, you can't have the U.S. flag mounted on a teeter totter at all, no matter what, left or right, then I'll just say, Alright fine, it'll just be a naked teeter totter.

CZ: That would be fun, too.

HD: Yes, it could be all right. Well listen, I think it would be really cool if you wound up being a neighbor!

CZ: Well, you never know.

HD: Yeah, you never do. I mean, dogs, how old are they?

CZ: They are about eight.

HD: So, dogs don't live that long.

CZ: That's true. [laugh]

HD: That's a grim way to look at it, but I mean.

CZ: That's true. [laugh]

HD: So I don't think the dogs should be a barrier. So you're out of town a lot, you need somebody to like walk them? And take care of them while you are gone?

CZ: Yes, I am out of town a lot.

HD: Well, see, there's all kinds of neighborhood kids around here, even some neighborhood adults around here, who would be willing to help out with that kind of thing.

CZ: What I like about this street--the first time I knew it was here was that a friend of mine, independent of Katie and Bob, drove me down this street because they said, You have to see this street in Ann Arbor, you wouldn't know it was here otherwise. Especially since it has the park at the other end. And is it a one-way?

HD: We've got a park??

CZ: Isn't there a little park down here?

HD: No, but that's City land actually.

CZ: So it's not a park?

HD: No, it's part of, I forget what it's called, the affordable housing, ...

CZ: ... like Section 8 or something?

HD: Yeah, probably Section 8. The strategy here in Ann Arbor has been, at least to some extent, to integrate that into the neighborhoods and interleave it, as opposed to saying, Let's build a completely separate project. So I believe that it's Murray Ct. off of 7th there. There's a couple of units there, and there is some of the wide-open land that belongs to that. And then there is the last house on the street, the owner of that property owns a triple lot. So I'm actually sort of tentatively discussing with her the idea of keeping chickens on her center lot, because she is her own neighbor on either side, so the permissions that are required ...

CZ: ... that's right. Okay.

HD: For those two sides anyway, she doesn't have to ask.

CZ: So you think that chickens are a good thing?

HD: I think they are an awfully good thing. I would like to keep them right here.

CZ: Why can't you do that? Oh, well, it would interfere with the teeter tottering.

HD: I'm willing to make that choice, I think. Because I have the portable teeter totter now.

CZ: Yeah, true.

HD: Actually I was thinking ahead when I built that teeter totter, the portable version, that I wouldn't necessarily have to have this one now. Now there is an emotional attachment to this one involving the wedding anniversary and everything, but you know, we could share it with a bunch of chickens, my wife and I. I would not expect your average guest to want to share the teeter totter with a bunch of chickens. I wouldn't want to make people do that. But Mary and I, we could do that.

CZ: Would you be able to convince your neighbors, then, your surrounding neighbors?

HD: I have not been able to do that already, so I know that that is a non-starter.

CZ: Got it. Okay.

HD: That's why I have gone down the hill already.

CZ: Is she going to go for it?

HD: Well, we haven't gotten to the point of actually trying to formalize actually how it might happen. And there's people behind her, we have to figure out who owns it, I mean the City owns one of the parcels. I mean that would be an interesting question, if we asked the City to grant permission.

CZ: It's an empty lot, right?

HD: And then I think there is one other neighbor, maybe. But anyway. It's not a pressing thing. I've got a lot of other stuff to do. [laugh]

CZ: I can barely take care of two dogs, let alone chickens.

HD: Yeah, chickens, I think, are a bit more difficult than dogs. Well, I mean it requires more of a commitment. Because a dog you can just take somewhere and board it, if you have to go out of town. If need be, right?

CZ: Yeah, and what do you do with chickens in the winter? You would have to bring them in, wouldn't you? It's a little cold here for chickens?

HD: They need shelter from the wind, but the cold apparently, they are pretty much okay with.

CZ: You probably put them in a shelter with hay, I'm sure they're fine?

HD: So as long as they are out of the wind. They need to be, you know, not exposed to moving air.

CZ: Got it.

HD: So anyway, I interrupted you, you were talking about when you first saw the street, somebody said you had to see the street? Who was the person who said you have to see this street?

CZ: A friend of mine--a former colleague of mine who works at the College of Engineering. And when I first moved here, she was telling me that there are many--she didn't describe it this way--but I would call them 'pocket neighborhoods'. So there are a lot of hidden neighborhoods in Ann Arbor that you wouldn't normally know were there, unless you lived in Ann Arbor for a long time.

HD: We were surprised when we first saw it.

CZ: And so she drove me down the street, and I just thought it was awesome. It seems to be intimate and well-maintained and out-of-the-way, so that you wouldn't have a lot of street traffic, either.

HD: There's not. There is some through traffic but not a lot. The S-curve at the end of the hill basically insulates us from a lot of the cut-through traffic.

CZ: Got it.

HD: Murray, the next street over--Murray is also a kick-ass street. I don't know, to me, Murray's got a little more panache, a little more sort of--well the colors of the houses are little more vibrant, more bold, and I get the sense that the people there are maybe a little bit more, I don't know, eclectic? Less the same. Actually, I think I might would fit in better over on Murray ...

CZ: [laugh] [laugh]

HD: ... than here, but you know, you take what you can get.

CZ: I think you're lucky to live here.

HD: You could do way worse, that's for sure.

CZ: And you can walk downtown.

HD: That is the super thing. But you know, on cold winter days, it is a brutal walk. I mean if it's 20 degrees out and there is wind, and it's snowing and I say, Gosh, do I want to go down to the Old Town? Yeah, I do, I want to go down to the Old Town, but am I going to walk? No! There's a big ol' parking lot next to the Old Town, it's easy to park there. So I find myself on those occasions thinking, It's kind of odd to be driving this short a distance. But really ...

CZ: ... and you can't bike when it's snowing and icing and that sort of thing.

HD: Well, I could bike actually. But my wife is not a fan of the winter biking--generally when I'm going to the Old Town, I'm going with my wife.

CZ: Well, that's better, then, you need to do what she wants you to do. [laugh]

HD: I'm not sure I follow! What?

CZ: Well, if you want her to accompany you to Old Town, then you want to do what she wants you to do, or you'll be there by yourself!

HD: Oh, right. And the bus, you know, does run right past it.

CZ: Where does it go? Here? Does it go close by?

HD: Oh yeah, right down Liberty Street.

CZ: Oh, it does, okay.

HD: The route is great. But the timing is--I think it runs once an hour. And so if you miss it, then you have to wait an hour.

CZ: Well, I do have to say, the bus system here is awesome.

HD: You like it?

CZ: Yes. I use it at work sometimes, actually.

HD: So to get like from north campus to central campus, or?

CZ: Well, I work at Wolverine Tower, so I will take the bus from Wolverine Tower to main campus quite often.

HD: So is that Big Blue bus, that's not the AATA, right?

CZ:: Yes, that's correct. I think. No. No, no, no it's the big white buses.

HD: Oh, so the new hybrid diesel vehicles?

CZ: Yeah. I'm thinking that maybe I have ridden both, but I can't tell you for sure. I just get on the bus, I don't really pay attention, quite frankly.

HD: You just wave your badge at them, right? It's all free for you guys?

CZ: Yeah! Yeah, that's true. But, there seems to be a lot of ridership. I mean, from what I can tell.

HD: So the buses that you generally ride, when you ride, are pretty well packed?

CZ: Yeah. Or if I pull up alongside one as I'm driving through town, even if it's late at night, I notice that they--I don't know what time they quit running each evening ...

HD: ... the ones you see are generally full?

CZ: Well, not necessarily full, but certainly have patrons riding.

HD: So when you ride the bus, do you view it as an opportunity to talk to a bunch of people who you wouldn't ordinarily have a chance to ...

CZ: ... no! No. I view it as an opportunity to get me somewhere fairly quickly without the hassle of trying to find a place to park. And that's on campus. People complain about parking downtown and I think it's crazy. I think that there's great parking downtown.

HD: So in your experience you've never had a problem finding a space?

CZ: Never.

HD: Wow. See, that's a reputation thing. You're aware of the reputation, right?

CZ: Yes, yes. We had the same thing in Lawrence back where I came from. And I was on a downtown parking advisory board.

HD: Wow!

CZ: Yeah, and people had the same complaints, that there's no place to park, nowhere to park, but yet what they want is a Walgreens or CVS type parking, where they park 10 feet from the front door and walk into the store that they want.

HD: Right, who wouldn't want that!? [laugh]

CZ: That's crazy! That's crazy! And I think in smaller towns like Ann Arbor and Lawrence that you are lucky that parking is available, first of all. And that second of all, you don't have to pay $20 an hour, $8 an hour, like you would someplace like San Francisco or Chicago.

HD: I'm not sure exactly what parking costs anymore, but for a while, at least, it was like $.80 an hour. Or something crazy. My thought was, $.80?? Just make it a dollar! Just make it a dollar, man. Because no one was to fool around with that kind of change, come on.

CZ: We actually park quite often at the surface lot just to the west of Grizzly Peak. We go there quite often.

HD: You like the sweet potato fries there? That's a good menu item, I have to say.

CZ: It's a great menu item! And their beer is pretty good, too. But that surface lot is terrific. I mean, it's close to everything, and there is always a space available. Unless you go to the lot at maybe 6:30 on a Friday night, you may wait for 10 minutes for someone to cycle through, for a space to open up.

HD: So is that your general strategy, you just hang out right by the parking gate??

CZ: Yep. I'm one of those!

HD: I wasn't going to say that, but I was privately thinking it.

CZ: But we have found that that is actually a great strategy, because most people don't have the patience to wait. [laugh]

HD: Oh, I don't, I absolutely don't. When I see people who are doing that, I think, Man, that's crazy.

CZ: Most of the time you don't have to wait for a long period. That and the lot behind the--oh, what's the Irish pub?

HD: Conor O'Neill's?

CZ: Conor O'Neill's. Back with Prickly Pear and those places.

HD: So you actually served on--this was like a citizen's advisory board?

CZ: Yes.

HD: So, any thought of contributing lessons learned and skills in that area to the city of Ann Arbor? I have no idea if they have openings on whatever relevant boards and organizations, but I think Susan Pollay would love to hear what you have to say, especially the part about how parking is great downtown!

CZ: It really is! I don't know, maybe I'm easy-going, too, in that respect. My husband would disagree with me.

HD: About the easy-going part?

CZ: Yeah. [laugh] But I think downtowns are a treasure to be kept. And I think that Ann Arbor has a great downtown. And the people who patronize downtown will do it anyway. And they won't see parking as a problem. I guess I would say just leave the critics, I would just ignore them. [laugh] I didn't say that! I'm kidding, I'm kidding. [laugh] I think people are easy to criticize public services and such.

HD: I think you're right, if people have an experience that is extremely frustrating where they can find a parking space, that becomes the model or frame of reference for how they think of parking, and then they talk about it and it sort of fuels this awful reputation. And I think there are situations where maybe there's not enough parking for the peak load, say for football Saturday parking. Well, yeah, it's probably hard to find a parking space, but I think no one reasonably expects to be able to find an easy parking space on a football Saturday.

CZ: Exactly.

HD: If you have that expectation, well then you don't understand the significance of U of M football.

CZ: That's exactly right. I concur!

HD: You said that you worked at Wolverine Tower, which means that you are a University of Michigan employee?

CZ: Correct.

HD: So do you have like an inside track on U of M football tickets at all? How does that work?

CZ: [laugh] [laugh] That's complicated.

HD: Is it easier to go through the University Michigan, or is it easier to go through like Katie and Bob? Because Bob, he played for the 1997 national championship team for crying out loud. He is bound to have some kind of pull.

CZ: I'm sure he has some pull.

HD: Does he really, because seriously I have no idea. I haven't even tried to ask him, because I have nothing of any kind of value to offer in exchange. Even remotely.

CZ: That's a political question.

HD: Is it really a political question, the football tickets? Okay. Fair enough. I'll back off. [laugh]

CZ: [laugh] Let me put it this way: It's like many things in life. It's like many things in life.

HD: So, have you been to a game?

CZ: Yes. I have.

HD: Do we play Kansas at all?

CZ: No.

HD: Have we ever played Kansas?

CZ: Not to my knowledge.

HD: Okay. If we were to play Kansas, and Kansas came here to play, how much money would you pay to get your hands on a ticket? Over 1000 bucks?

CZ: No!

HD: So you might be willing to pay a little extra but not like crazy money?

CZ: Yes. Right. I am a KU grad, so we have a great basketball team. Actually, national champs this year.

HD: Were you??

CZ: Yes.

HD: Are you sure?

CZ: I am extremely positive about that! [laugh]

HD: It's one of those things where here in Ann Arbor your attention kind of drifts off, because we typically don't make the tournament here.

CZ: Right, well, in basketball. At this time. But it's a building program.

HD: Sure.

CZ: And what I found is that as much as I love Kansas basketball, that, oooh--well, I'll say it anyway--as much as I love Kansas basketball, which I do, it's just not worth the extra money to me to pay the incredibly high prices for tickets.

HD: You're talking about for a home game in Kansas?

CZ: Not even that. When they played here in Detroit earlier this year in the NCAA tournament and we were able to secure some fairly nice tickets from some friends of ours--thank you, they were great tickets, and offer them again!--but it's a momentary thing.

HD: It's very transitory.

CZ: Right. It's not worth it. It's not worth it. Well, I don't know, I say that every time, but I buy them again. [laugh] But anyway.

HD: The coach at Kansas, I'm not thinking of the current coach, but there was the guy ...

CZ: ... basketball or football?

HD: Basketball, we're talking now. I forget his name, but I think he was from Kansas who went to Indiana University and he had some issues?

CZ: Well, would it be perhaps Roy Williams going to North Carolina?

HD: No, not that guy. Maybe I'm thinking of a different institution. There was a guy who went to Indiana University, he brought with him some trail of NCAA recruiting violations, he repeated the same violations at Indiana, and they fired him. The only reason I care is that I kind of have a soft place for Indiana University.

CZ: Of course.

HD: And they take their basketball real serious there.

CZ: Well, Bobby Knight, right?

HD: Right, that is the legacy. So it wasn't the guy from Kansas?

CZ: Not to my knowledge. It could have been somebody from Kansas State. But I don't know for sure. [Ed. note: Readers more familiar with NCAA basketball than HD will recognize that HD is thinking of former Oklahoma basketball coach, Kelvin Sampson. Because Kanasas ... Oklahoma, apparently they're pretty much all the same square state to HD.]

HD: Who is coach there now?

CZ: Bill Self.

HD: So he won a national championship which means he's got a job for next year at least.

CZ: Exactly. That is how it works. Exactly right.

HD: Well, listen is there anything else he wanted to talk about before we dismount? Because the sun is starting to set over there now.

CZ: Actually, I don't think we could've picked a more perfect evening.

HD: Isn't it spectacular? The whole day.

CZ: The whole day was absolutely perfect.

HD: Zero humidity. Just like, what, low 70's temperatures.

CZ: Right. Sun.

HD: High, puffy clouds in the sky. We've got a cat sitting in the window.

CZ: Two.

HD: Oh!

CZ: [laugh]

HD: They don't get along that well that's why one is upstairs and one is downstairs.

CZ: Well, I like cats in the window. I think it says something about the house.

HD: What does it say?

CZ:: It says that it's comfortable and that--I don't know. It's always inviting to me when I see a cat in the window.

HD: What it says about our house, really is that we are not able to say, No, to people who say, Please can you take this kitty off our hands?

CZ: [laugh] I wouldn't advertise that! You may have more.

HD: Well, I own the blog I can redact that.

CZ: I guess I would finish our interview by saying, this has been an absolute delight. And meeting you has been a lot of fun, so thank you for having me!

HD: Well, right back at you. Now, assuming you continue to visit the street when you see Katie and Bob, it you can yell over, Hey, Dave!

CZ: Absolutely!

HD: I would enjoy that. I would really enjoy it if you would buy that house up the street.

CZ: I'll talk to Jack about it, how about that?

HD: If you think it would help, you can have Jack come by for a teeter totter ride himself.

CZ: [laugh] [laugh]

HD: Because I think if I could get Jack on the teeter totter, I could persuade him that that house up the street is the house for you guys.

CZ: How about I talk to him about that. That would be kind of funny.

HD: I think I could do it. Or, is he not the one who needs convincing?

CZ: [laugh] I think we have concluded that we don't want an old house. We've had old houses before and they are a lot of work.

HD: Yes, I cannot argue with that.

CZ: And actually we don't have a lot of time to spend on maintenance of an old home. Although we would love it. But we know the reality of owning an older home.

HD: When you start to fix something and you want to fix it right, because you don't want to have to do it again ever--that's my take on anything I do. I say, you know, I want to do this right--not because it's the right thing to do, and not out of moral principle, it's because I don't want to have to deal with it again ever the whole time I'm living here, which is until I die.

So I want to do it one time. And in order to do it right, man, you get in there you discover that, oh this board that is right next to it, it's also in poor condition, and I'm going to have to tear that out and put new wood in there, and a oh, this knob-and-tube wiring that I just exposed, that's against modern code, I have to fix that, too, and now I have to learn something about electricity. At some point you have to just arbitrarily draw a line on the wall with a Sharpie and say, I'm not going past there for this project, because otherwise I will never finish.

CZ: Exactly, exactly. I do have a question for you. I'm changing the subject!

HD: That's allowed.

CZ: So, if you could have anyone come to your backyard teeter totter, who would it be?

HD: Just like a fantasy?

CZ: Yeah. I mean, come on, you know, the six degrees of separation are actually smaller than that, and so ...

HD: ... now, I'm not avoiding the question, and I will come back to it, but because you mentioned six degrees of separation, let me bounce three names off of you and see if you recognize them. Karen Moorhead, do you know who that is?

CZ: Yeah, I think so.

HD: Do you really?

CZ: I think so. Karen Moorhead.

HD: Who do you think she is?

CZ: Is she here in Ann Arbor?

HD: Yeah.

CZ: And does she do house sitting for people?

HD: Close. She's a Realtor. So not housesitting, but she'll sell you a house, so it's related. How about Bill Tozier?

CZ: No.

HD: Derek Mehraban?

CZ: No.

HD: Okay. Because according to LinkedIn ...

CZ: ... [laugh] [laugh]...

HD: ... we are linked at a level of three degrees via those three people. So if you go from me to those three people--I mean, I know who those people are--then there is some collection of people that they are connected to, and that collection of people is connected to you. So what we've got to do is, we've got to find somebody in that collection and connects us via those three people.

CZ: Totally.

HD: Maybe somebody who reads Teeter Talk will say, Hey I must be that person--or one of those people--who's the missing link.

CZ: That's awesome. It will be easy enough to find out!

HD: I'm not familiar enough with LinkedIn to know if you can just dive in and find out.

CZ: LinkedIn, well, I don't care as long as someone is not taking my photo off of the internet and using it for ...

HD: ... nefarious purposes.

CZ: Yes. LinkedIn is huge in the Silicon Valley. And if you are anywhere close to the network there, if you work anywhere close to Silicon Valley, then a lot of those folks are LinkedIn. At one point I did work in Silicon Valley, so I needed to be on LinkedIn.

HD: So that's the legacy of your work in Silicon Valley?

CZ: Yes, that is a legacy. And I'm also finding out that it is pretty big in Houston, as well. That's kind of interesting. And it could be because of the Austin connection--I thought maybe the Silicon Valley Austin connection.

HD: Is this the South by Southwest thing?

CZ: Well, just the computer science industry. Computer science and engineering, the software industry. Anyway.

HD: So back to your question. If I could have anybody in the backyard on the teeter totter. You mean like a real person, not like Iron Man?

CZ: [laugh]. Yeah a real--I suppose we could get Iron Man here. But it would be kind of fun to see who we can get here using our connections!

HD: Right. You know, up for a while I really thought it would be super cool to have somebody like Bill Clinton--I even went to the trouble to Photoshop him onto the end of the teeter totter. Because the Ann Arbor Observer, they wrote about my wanting to have him on, and I thought, Well now I have to deliver on that. So in some ways I feel like if I were to name someone specific, it would mean a certain amount of pressure to actually have that person on. Even if it were faked up.

CZ: All right, I see.

HD: I have given up on the idea of getting a huge, remarkable celebrity 'get'. Because I find it's much more interesting actually to just talk to regular folks about regular stuff and as that accumulates, that becomes remarkable.

CZ: I agree.

HD: More so than having, say, Barack, or John McCain. You know, if Barack Obama were to knock on the door and said, Dave, I heard about the teeter totter, so can we go for a ride? I would say, Yes, we can!

CZ: [laugh]

HD: But it's not something I'm going to put a lot of effort into trying to figure out, who do I know, who knows somebody, who knows somebody, who knows Barack. You know, if somebody were to say, Dude, I can totally hook you up, do you want me to do this or not? I would say sure, who wouldn't want to talk to somebody like Barack, on a teeter totter? I would be hard-pressed to name somebody who would be like the person.

CZ: Okay, that's fair.

HD: You know, when the Dalai Lama came to town, it did occur to me that that would be totally kick ass, to have the Dalai Lama on the teeter totter.

CZ: I heard that he's a cool guy. Really!

HD: So anybody of that caliber, I would say, absolutely I would love to have them. I can't think of anybody where I would say, Oh no, I would not want to have them on the teeter totter, that would not be very interesting.

CZ: Everyone has an interesting story.

HD: Yeah, I think.

CZ: That has been my experience anyway. Thank you for having me!

HD: Have we heard your interesting stories?

CZ: [laugh] Heck no!

HD: Well, listen, I will let you off the teeter totter. Are you ready?

CZ: Ready? Yep.