Thursday, May 28, 2009

Unfleeced UnPart 1

So on a recent post I may have implied that my dentist was being ever-so-slightly less than honest about the need for some fillings based on some magical cavity detecting laser. I'm still skeptical about the laser, but when I went in for my fillings on Tuesday, the dentist said that one of them was a bit bigger than he anticipated and it was a good thing that we decided to fill that one.

That makes me feel just a little bit better about the whole process, though I guess I don't really have any proof that he didn't make up the part about the cavity being a little bit bigger than expected, and to convince me of his case, he used Novocaine and in my numbed state, he decided to go nuts with the drill. What I can tell you for sure is that I didn't get feeling back on the right side of my face for three or four hours, so he could have been doing anything in my mouth while I was on the chair. No, don't go there.

That makes this post my unofficial apology for implying I was the victim of medical revenue-generating practices. A little skepticism can be good, on occasion, but generally it is probably a better idea than not to trust your various medical professionals - except for that guy behind the liquor store named Doc. He should not be trusted under any circumstances.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Michigan's Greatest Gift

On one May 24th, 1982 morning or night on a day that was either rainy, sunny, overcast, or night time, Michigan was granted its greatest natural gift throughout all of history, me.

Yes, today is my 27th birthday and I am happy to be mildly celebrating all weekend long. Last night, Maureen took me to dinner at Michael Symon's downtown Detroit restaurant, Roast, in the newly-restored Westin Book Cadillac Hotel, today I will be attending my first Tiger game of the 2009 calendar year with 8 other individuals, and tomorrow I will be working, but with less intensity than a normal Monday. I may even stop by a friends' place for some backyard barbecue. Most importantly, my parents purchased a whole CostCo cake before they went to go visit my sister and her family in Minnesota and we have (no kidding) 7 containers of Edy's ice cream in the refridgerator. Birthday is no birthday without a whole CostCo cake and 7 containers of Edy's ice cream.

Tomorrow, instead of wishing people the usual and oh so overused "Happy Memorial Day!!", wish them "Happy Day After Ken's Birthday!!" They'll know exactly what you're talking about and together, you can reminisce about the good times, the bad times, the hard times, and the medium times you have shared thinking about, discussing, and writing songs and poems for me. Enjoy this random video of my nephew. It's my birthday gift for me to you.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Fleeced, Part 1

Like so many Americans, I am not a medical professional, and therefore, I depend on medical professionals for the best advice, insight, and feedback on all things medical. This includes physicians, surgeons, dermatologists, and dentists. Every once in a while, I get the strong feeling that, while not entirely trying to screw me, some of these medical professionals are focusing a little bit too much on the revenue-generating side of the business and they don't necessarily give me the best input. I really like our family dentist and will keep going there happily, but in 2 out of my last 3 biannual checkups, I have some sneaking and growing suspicions, and I wanted to throw a question out there to my vast dentist reading community. There is even an entire website called dedicated to dentists who love me, so I don't want to alienate those fans.

Three checkups ago, my brother and I were both told, within a couple of weeks, that crowns were the best way for us to go to deal with a tooth issue. At first, I was excited that the dentist was going to make an entirely separate appointment to make and place a bejeweled ornamental headpiece on my head, but then I found out that they were going to cut off part of my tooth and put a new piece on top of the tooth stump. Again I'm no dentist so I don't know the real reasons why a crown would be necessary, but I'm a very regular brusher and flosser, had no tooth pain whatsoever, and I never heard about any of my peers who had crowns. The fact that Steve and I were both recommended crowns within a couple weeks seemed too much a coincidence to be coincidence.

My most recent concern regards the checkup I had Thursday morning. Again, in general, my teeth were pristine, but the hygienist had a small concern about two small areas on my teeth. The dentist came in and took a look, and he was not able to immediately discern whether or not these were cavities. At this point, they brought in a cavity-detecting laser that they stick against your teeth, and it registers a reading between 0-99. 99 means your tooth is like a mealy apple. The dentist indicated to me that a reading between 20-30 indicates the start of a cavity, and one of the areas on my teeth registered a 24 and one a 28. Because of this, I have to again return next week for some very minor filling work that likely won't even require numbing.

First, I don't have proof that someone in the room was fiddling around with the dials to put in whatever number he/she saw fit, let alone that the laser has the ability to detect cavities. It's hard to look around with an implement stuck in your craw. Second, are the readings of a 24 and 28 even filling-worthy? I mean, the dial goes all the way up to 99. Are these guaranteed to turn into cavities, or is this a fine opportunity to hit up insurance and my co-pay for a few extra bucks? This isn't a conspiracy theory or rallying against the vast health care machine, but every once in a while, maybe it's right to ask the question - is this really necessary?

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Evils of Antiperspirant

On with my week of the world of Ken's personal grooming.

This is a philosophy that my brother has adhered to for years, and because it is among the most counter-intuitive theories I have ever heard, I pushed back against it for many moons. This concept holds that antiperspirant actually causes the body to sweat more than just wearing deodorant. "CRAZY!" you say? I thought so too, but I am a complete and total convert to the joys of deodorant-sans-aluminum.

Steve postulates that antiperspirant, when applied, acts as a firm but extremely temporary barrier against the sweats. However, as your body wants and needs to sweat, the heat builds and it pushes against this barrier until, eventually, this barrier breaks down. At this point, the floodgates are open and you are going to have all kinds of sweaty armpits. The antiperspirant experiences a critical failure event from which it cannot recover.

Now, I have have suffered from the malady of sweaty body parts for my whole life. I had tried every single brand, scent, and type of antiperspirant out there. Solids, gels, solid gels, and soft solids have all failed in their effort to keep me from sweating. I've even tried products marketed specifically to not-men, because hell, they couldn't possibly be worse than all of the previous failures. There was a brief period of time where I experienced some success with the clickable Old Spice Red Zone, but like the borg, my body adapted and learned how to defeat this brand. Most recently, I felt optimistic when some of the more mainstream companies started producing and marketing "prescription strength" antiperspirants which recommend you go out of your way to put them on at night and slaughter a lamb as a sacrifice to ensure successful wetness defeating. I tell you all this because I need you to know that I have done, seen, and tried it all in this realm of consumer packaged goods. For business meetings, I had conceded to the fact that for my entire life, I would never be able to wear anything other than a white colored shirt.

Several months ago, fed up with years of failure, I finally gave in to at least trying Steve's anti-antiperspirant theory because, again, it couldn't be worse than the rest. After one day of trial, I was a convert. I could sit through and present in meetings with nary a wet spot. I could not believe how much of an instant difference it could make - specifically with a product intended to be the more wet version of the product that made me crazy wet. Since this time, I have continued to successfully and happily use only deodorant. I have also started to spread this theory to other people I know and, at the very least, they were happy to report that they were not sweating any more than if they were using the devil's product, antiperspirant. As added benefits, the aluminum that is in antiperspirant is what turns the armpits in our favorite t-shirts that depressing shade of yellow and, some people hypothesize, could have some sort of cancerous implications. Cancerous as in cancer, though this is still only alleged.

To this day, I continue to find it crazy that the product intended to do one thing has the complete opposite and deleterious effect. Whole world, rebel against antiperspirant. Embrace your friend in deodorant and overcome your doubt. It took me years to finally give it a shot, but now when I'm at a sporting event, I can throw my arms into the air for the wave like all the other Sure fans.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Tear that Shiz Down

The Michigan Central Depot has stood vacant and utterly abandoned since the fine year of 1988 in honor of my sixth birthday. Well, abandoned except for the occasional movie that films scenes in the Central Depot intended to represent something along the lines of "really cool decay and dereliction." The depot stands almost immediately west of the heart of downtown Detroit and I'm pretty sure is meant to remind us of ineffective leaders who can decide neither to tear the thing down or to try to remodel it. On April 7th, 2009, the Detroit City Council finally passed a resolution aimed at tearing down the depot. A resolution in and of itself is still miles from actual demolition, but it's a step in one specific direction. The Freep and Detroit News are both reporting today that the city council is delaying its decision to raze the depot. Here's where, I think, this gets ridiculous.

After 20+ years, the attorney for the company that owns the land stated that "the company needed a 'reasonable period of time to come up with development plans.'" For small decisions, a reasonable amount of time is somewhere between 5 and 30 seconds, as in, "Should I buy that pack of gum? Yes!!" For moderate decisions, a reasonable amount of time is 1 hour-7 days, like "How many buffets should I eat at on my honeymoon? At least five!" Large decisions can take anywhere from 1 day - 3 months, and huge, gigantic, massive, decisions should take between 2 weeks and 2 years. The company that owns this spot on earth has had 20 years to figure out what they should do with their property, and in the hopes of free money for "urban renewal" or "tax subsidies for casinos", they have let it just sit there, like a steaming pile of Taj Mahal-shaped dog poo. It might be shaped like something beautiful, but it's still a pile of poo.

I know it would be pretty freaking awesome if Detroit could somehow pull it together to restore the Central Depot. Estimates for restoration have generally ranged between $80M-$300M, and different people have suggested many different uses for the depot, including housing the Detroit police headquarters and possibly even a casino. The land that holds the depot belongs to a guy by the name of Matty Moroun - the same guy who owns the Ambassador Bridge - and this guy is a billionaire. I am the last person who wants to ever let go of the past, but it is time to let go of this past. It would probably be cheaper to raze the whole building and build a full-scale replica of the Central Depot on the exact same spot than to rebuild and remodel within the existing decrepit infrastructure. The council was on the path to finally making a decision, but maybe 20 more years well help the owners figure out what do to with the spot? We can't wait and hope that Transformer 3: The Revenge of Transformation will film at the Central Depot.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Body Wash

I absolutely do not understand body wash. My whole life my parents raised me as a bar soap kind of guy, but at some point in the last ten years, I became aware of the body wash product. I'm not quite sure when or how it happened, but somewhere along the line, manufacturers decided that they could screw consumers by putting an inferior washing quality product into a bottle, marking it up quite a large percentage, and then because it seems to go away so much faster than bar soap, people have to run to the store to purchase even more of the inferior cleaning product. The only reason I am periodically confronted with the issue of body wash is that sometimes I need to shower at Maureen's place and she often has only body wash available. I'm looking to find some supporters to explain to me why they want to pay more, more often, for a product that does not even clean their body. Here are just some of the reasons why body wash blows:

1) The aforementioned price issue
2) It never gets lathery enough
3) Because it never gets lathery enough, I have to use a large amount to hit the unusually high amount of surface area on my body
4) Even with the most vigorous effort, the body wash never seems to find its way into all the crevices of my man bits
5) The body wash never seems to permeate to the skin on any part of my body that contains hair - and genetically I just don't have very much hair aside from my head
6) Once finally on the body, the body wash takes forever to wash off, and I'm not sure it actually all ever comes off
7) It's easy to mistake body wash for something else, leading to potentially embarrassing shower situations
8) I heard that Hitler preferred body wash
9) That stupid Old Spice commercial with that Minotaur using Old Spice body wash. He must have an incredibly hard time based on point 5, see above. This is just false advertising. I'm pretty sure that all Minotaurs prefer Dove bars of soap.
10) This is my first list of 1o things ever on my blog, and I don't have a tenth point, so my tenth point is about the fact that this is the first list of 10 things on my blog.

I know that you're asking yourself "After this much time away from the blog and with all the things going on out there, why is this his post?" Because I've held my public silence about body wash too long. I can not be silenced any longer, and you all deserve to agree with me.

Stay tuned over the next couple days for my brother's very true theory about antiperspirant vs. deodorant. The world needs to know. I'd also like to thank my brand new blog sponsor, Old Spice. I love that commercial with the Minotaur.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This Post is a Cop Out

My tummy has been incredibly full of work this week and this has made it particularly hard to find blog time. That is why, tonight, I am simply going to post a video from YouTube that is better than anything I could ever write. Hopefully things will calm down by tomorrow night and I can again focus my attention on all of the things I would like to not have to focus my attention on. Stupid "the present".

Monday, May 11, 2009

Please Stay Put

Here I am, living my life, most certainly not oblivious to most of Michigan's daily challenges. Then, out of the blue, something new comes along and smacks you right in the face. Whether or not this is a legitimate concern or real story is up for discussion, but I do not like that this is yet another thing piled onto the plate and I did not even realize it was something requiring concern.

I was startled earlier this morning to read the headline "GM Ducks Question About Moving HQ" in The Freep and immediately more or less started to calmly freak out. Moving headquarters out of Detroit? Southeast Michigan? Michigan? The Midwest? The U.S.?

A little more reading over the course of the day has led to different types of speculation with varying degree of doom. Fortune reports "GM Home Likely to Stay Put in Detroit" and someone somewhere else speculated that GM may consolidate its operations into the expansive technical center in Warren.

From a business standpoint, I can't speak in depth to the benefits of GM moving HQ from one place to another, but from a Michigan standpoint, I hope to all gods of all religions that GM can find success while staying put in the Renaissance Center. In fact, I there aren't too many things worse for the state than GM moving out of the D. Michigan needs a healthy Detroit in its ongoing fight to change perception of Michigan as a whole. GM has put in a considerable amount of money toward this end - from massively overhauling the RenCen to funding a significant portion of the RiverWalk to bringing additional employees downtown to fill Detroit's streets and stores, and probably lots of things I can't recall off the top of my head. First and foremost, GM cannot leave Michigan, but just leaving Detroit, even for Warren, would be a painful blow.

If Fritz H. is out there and happens to be a fan of my blog (hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha), please do everything in your power to keep GM in Detroit and Michigan. On top of that, if you could help make the company profitable, viable, secure, and environmentally friendly, that would be swell. No problem, right? Right?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

A Foote By Any Other Name

There are those of us out there like me - and probably you if you read my blog. Either that or you love cleverness and insane hilarity. One of these people is Larry Foote.

As reported yesterday, Larry Foote, professional football linebacker, is joining the Detroit Lions with a one year contract. That is just about the most kick ass thing I could imagine, for a few different reasons.

Foote is from Detroit, played football at Detroit Pershing and the University of Michigan, and is one of those people out there who gives me the little glimmer of hope and pride I need to keep going sometimes. He has two Super Bowl championships with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was released from his contract to make room for a recent Pittsburgh draft choice. Over the past years, Foote has spoken glowlingly about the possibility of returning to Detroit to play football for the Lions, despite their abysmal suckiness. He is a guy who absolutely loves Detroit, and is of Michigan. Here's a passage from Michael Rosenberg's column in The Free Press today.

There are a few things you need to understand about Foote. One is that he is a Detroiter and absolutely loves the city. He plans to live here for the rest of his life, no matter where his football career takes him.

On nighttime national TV broadcasts, when players are asked to introduce themselves to the audience by announcing their name, position and college, Foote always says "Larry Foote, linebacker, Detroit Pershing Doughboys."

There are many reasons why Foote is coming to the Lions, but the fact that he seems to truly love the city, despite its numerous bumps and bruises, makes me want to give him a big huge hug and take him out to dinner. I don't think any one individual can be a savior for a football team, but that doesn't matter. It makes me more proud to know that other people are proud - especially rich and famous people who could go anywhere and afford anything.

All of this is why I am proud to announce the unendorsed and completely unaware officially unofficial mascot of We Are Of Michigan, Larry Foote. I will donate 10 cents for every tackle that he makes for the Lions from my left pocket to my right pocket.

If you have the love, spread it around - let it be known. Larry Foote, unofficial and totally unaware mascot of We Are Of Michigan, agrees with and supports you.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

I'm Home

Friends, Countrymen, Fellow Michigan People, Lovers -

I apologize for not posting to let the loyal fans out there know that I was going to be out of town from last Friday until right at this second. I was going to write something on Thursday night and pretty much completely ran out of town. I was literally doing work up until the moment I walked out the door to start the trip. In my dreams, at some point in the future my lack of posts may cause a few people to leave comments saying something like "Ken, where are you? My life is not quite the same without your insight." Maybe some day...

I love being home.

Over the past five days, I had the privilege to travel to Arizona with 5 other truly fantastic and fun people to hike around and soak up some nature. We had a blast, but there is something so satisfying to me about the feeling of cruising back to my home through Michigan's streets and walking into my home through the side door. As fun as vacation always is, I often also find happiness at the end of the trip when I get to complete one-ness with my home state. It's something about the air, the smell, my legacy connection, our shared mutual struggles that shape us together - vacation starts and ends at home.