Tuesday, October 26, 2010

No ________, Sherlock

The New York Times is the greatest publication that I never read except for when my attention is directed toward a specific article for a specific purpose. I'm not sure why I don't read it as a standard, but it just hasn't called to me. It may also have something to do with the fact that the publication for years had quite a phenomenal time taking its all-too personal shots at Detroit from the fabulous, urine-soaked and rat-infested mecca of New York, New York. Perhaps if Detroit could smell slightly more urine-like in the vein of NYC, they would feel more kinship with us and like us more. I also don't like that the publication costs a cajillion dollars to have it delivered to your home and half-a-cajillion dollars to have it only delivered as part of the weekend package.

I think it was one of my more trusty go-to publications, Time, that directed me toward this article in The Times. It is about one of my favorite subjects on which to vent, which also happens to be one of the general areas that is most upsetting to me - water. Much of the southwest of the United States, including down in southern California, is fed water from Lake Mead, the lake created through the man-made awesomeness that is the Hoover Dam. Lake Mead is a function of the Colorado River smashing into the Hoover Dam, providing a body of relatively still water that can be channeled to whatever part of the southwest is in need.

Lake Mead is about to cross below a crucial altitude of 1,075 feet, at which point it will become difficult, if not impossible, from an engineering standpoint to funnel the water to its necessary destination. Furthermore, much below this level, there will not be enough water to spin the electric turbines at the Hoover Dam that power much of the southwest. This unfortunate situation is for two reasons:

1) There are too many people using too much water in the southwest

As I've written about before (I'm too lazy to go back and find the link), I feel strongly that the southwest and all of its Michigan and Midwest-resident sucking attractiveness should not exist. It should not exist because IT IS A DESERT. You should not have golf courses or swimming pools in a desert. You should not have a lawn in a desert. You should not have a water park in the desert. You should not keep houses and workplaces cooled to 72 degrees in the desert. You should not use a Slip-N-Slide in the desert. You should not have misters at every bar in Scottsdale, Arizona because it is too hot to spend time at the bar without misters. You should not transport water hundreds and hundreds of miles from the Colorado River to do any of these things that make the southwest a somewhat bearable place to live.

But, because they do transport water hundreds and hundreds of miles to make the unlivable livable, people flock from all over the northern half of the country to the southwest because they are too weak to handle a little cold for a few months out of the year. Perhaps we could just have hundreds of thousands of heating lamps outside and next to every house and public place just blasting warmth into the air during the winter to approximate the waste of making the cold just a little more manageable. We could run heat elements through the sidewalks of every downtown area just to keep the snow from being too much of a nuisance.

In the event that Lake Mead does drop below the critical point, people in cities like Phoenix and Las Vegas will have to severely curb their water usage, making that beautiful rock lawn (as in a lawn made out of rocks) all the more necessary. Who wouldn't want their kids to play on a lush front yard made of 100% sharp rocks? It'll teach them character. I don't know if it'll be in my lifetime, but the water civil war is coming, people. I just hope that the southwest won't be able to power their electrical weapons and guidance systems because the Hoover Dam doesn't have enough water to generate electricity. Irony will be our victory.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Been Too Long

Shamefully, it's been 5 whole days since the last time that I wrote anything, and that was four days after the thing I wrote before that, and the thing from 5 days ago wasn't even a complete thought beyond "oh man it has been awhile." The last week has been pretty filled as we tried to get our house together for a couple of weekend events, but I also realized during this time the true holdup in me pumping out material in the manner to which you have been accustomed.

In my last job, I often worked from home with a pretty flexible work schedule, so in the middle of the day I would read a headline or see a news story, have a reaction, and then share that reaction with the blog. The reaction was fresh and because there was no delay between information reception and dissemination, I did not have the opportunity to realize that issue was not as important as I perceived or that my opinion about that issue was not half as funny as I thought. Now with a bit more of a normal schedule, I don't exactly have the time to intersect the regular working day with a brief respite because I thought it was funny that the guy from the new Al-Qaida video looks as non-threatening as a terrorist could possibly look (by the way, did you notice that he is so weak in appearance that they had to add a rifle to the background of his video? Like the Al-Qaida guys were like "oh shit, this guy needs props. Look at him. No one can take this seriously unless we add a gun.")

Because I no longer have the opportunity for immediate feedback, I've taken to emailing myself links and thoughts so that I can get back to them at the end of the day. The tough thing when I get back to these emails after the work day is that my reaction has faded and has instead been replaced by the evening's viewing of Detroit 1-8-7. I hope the show makes it at least one whole season. The show is good not great, but for some reason I am really enjoying seeing shots of the good and the bad parts of Detroit on television. Whoa there's the Greektown Casino! Hey I've driven under that street sign before! That's the place that the one bird pooped on me when I was walking out of that meeting! Everything great about the city is perfectly captured in those three exclamatory sentences. My friend told me he wasn't paying attention in downtown Royal Oak and he almost hit Michael Imperioli with his car. They could then do a "ripped from the headlines" show where the character Imperioli plays is hit by a car in downtown Royal Oak and then I can tell them who did it - it was Joe. You did it Joe.

Despite this new blogging difficulty and my (temporarily) reduced output, my love of Michigan and the metro Detroit area is stronger than ever. It's a little bit ironic because my work time in Detroit reduces my ability to evangelize, but this same work time is strengthening my resolve to do my part to get Michigan back on its feet. That may be a stupid thing to say (it is) for someone with a readership of two, but the battle for our state PR is a war of attrition and everyone can do something about it.

Please don't kill me, Al-Qaida. I just think it's a good idea to have a sense of humor about yourself and your spokespeople.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


Good morning - house and baby preparations have kept me fairly occupied over the past several days, so I regret that I have not had a great chance to even open up my laptop at home to do some writing. If I wasn't tired from all the things going on at home right now, I might even be upset about my poor showing. Yet again, I implore you to stick with me good people. As always, I will return with as many Days of Our Lives references as you can handle. For the next tiny bit though, hopefully you can find happiness in knowing that I was getting wrinkles out of curtains for about 6 or 7 hours on Sunday afternoon. Thank heaven that ironing boards are portable and can be moved directly in front of the television, or my head likely would have exploded.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

I Agree with Your Agreement

Before I start to talk about the main subject for the day, let me first congratulate my 2010 kickball team. We ended the year with a record of 4-4, but we were able to get to that record because we went 4-1 in our last five games. As with every year, despite my absolute certainty at the beginning of the season that there is no way that we are going to win any games, we always end up doing pretty decently for a group of people with minimal soccer backgrounds. We also do not play kickball more than one season of the year (you'd be surprised at the number of teams that play something approaching year-round), so we always start with a pretty significant disadvantage. Our game last night was particularly exciting because we were losing 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh, and we somehow scored 2 runs and won the game with a walk-off bunt. A Walk-off Bunt!! Man that was some exciting kickball. I'm sure at this point you regret that you were unable to attend our last game of the season as a fan, but you can probably catch us kicking ass 50% of the time next season. After the game, we continued our 2nd year tradition of celebrating the season with a party barge from Rosie O'Grady's in Ferndale. That party barge is hilarious. In one bite, you get peanut butter cup ice cream, strawberry ice cream, whip cream, chocolate covered peanuts, and pineapple. The mere fact that these items go terribly together makes the barge that much better. It is a truly exciting dessert.

Before I move on, what is the deal with the look of the one detective from Law & Order: Los Angeles? It seems too easy to go the route of comparing him to a sexually liberated 70s porn star, but holy cow does he look like a sexually liberated 70s porn star. He's bald, has a thick almost entirely linear mustache, and defines the prototype of a bear. My description can't do him justice. Here is a picture. If this is what cops look like in LA, then I understand how this city is the porn center of the U.S.

Now on to the real deal - the Pure Michigan tourism advertising campaign. There has been a lot of press about the campaign over the last month. The biggest issue is that because of Michigan's reduced tax receipts from our economic pain, the fall and winter advertisements (starring Buzz Lightyear!) were being diminished down to zero budget and thus killed. Because of this seasonal elimination, there was quite a bit of speculation that the 6th best tourism campaign in the world of all time would be completely canceled, thus pissing off everyone in Michigan with a brain cell. This would not be cool.

Yesterday, The Free Press was reporting at around 2 o'clock that Jennifer Granholm would be making an announcement about the Pure Michigan campaign at 3:30, and that I, the reader, should stay tuned for additional breaking news. This was exciting potential news as it would seem pointless for Jennifer Granholm to make an official announcement about the end of the campaign. Only good things could be in store for Buzz Lightyear.

This is why I am completely befuddled that her announcement was that she is officially calling for funding to restore Pure Michigan. That is boring. That is as boring as you reading my thoughts about my kickball season and eating a trough of ice cream. This is so boring, I would prefer to watch an episode of Two and a Half Men. For God's sake, Two and a Half Men.

Homer Simpson: "I've seen plays that were more exciting than this! Honest to god, PLAYS"

Is this a failure of The Free Press reporting or Jennifer Granholm? Mostly I don't care. Don't cancel Pure Michigan, but more importantly, don't hype an announcement that does not amount to a cat fart. Stop the presses! I may or may not eat a second piece of pizza for dinner even though I was pretty sure that I was only going to eat one.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Working for the (Awesome) Weekend

I can't remember the last time I was so excited for a weekend. Awesome things going on in life this weekend:

1) Steve is back in town

2) We received our new entryway tables, dining room table, and chairs today. We're also getting our sprinkler system fixed right now for next summer and we started the process of getting crown molding today.

2) We're going to see Louis C.K. at the Detroit Opera House tonight. About a year ago, I caught up with what much of the world realized 15-20 years ago when they identified that Louis C.K. is hilarious. You can't exactly blame me for being behind the times because 20 years ago I would have been 8 and my parents would have been absolutely terrible parents if they let me listen to his comedy.

3) Football game tailgating tomorrow morning and early afternoon. I enjoy tailgating quite a bit, but I find a like it less than most dudes. The reason, I think, is that I am fearful of awkward silence, and it is hard for me to make conversation with people for 6+ hours. Real tailgaters are out there for at least that long, so I parachute in, make a couple of jokes, eat someone else's sausage, and hit the road. If they're lucky, I will also drink their drinks, eat their brownies, and play whatever game they have that consists of throwing something at something else. There are a million variants of the game of throwing something at something else, and if there is one thing I love, it's throwing something and something else.

4) Football game!!!! UM vs. MSU with me leaning heavily toward the good folks from the University of Michigan. This is the first college football game I've been genuinely excited about in some time while Michigan has struggled through the dark times. I will be upset if Michigan does not conquer, but either way, Michigan wins, and that is good by me.

5) If I'm doing nothing after the football game, I have a massive queue of TV shows to watch. All of them fantastic! Thursday night TV alone is simultaneously ruining and enhancing my life. What a great, great night of television waiting for me on TiVo. 30 Rock, The Office, Community, Fringe, Bones, and It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Just thinking about it is stimulating me a little bit.

6) Sunday family get together to celebrate Steve being in town.

7) The weather is going to be BEAUTIFUL. I can exercise outside, breathe in the crisp fall air, do some yard work, and anything else to fill my time that isn't already filled.

8) The colors in southeast Michigan are peak fall colors.

Life is great. This is one of those times where I feel compelled to say if you're feeling down, give me a shout. Time is undoubtedly best spent with others.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Neighborhood Violence

Detroit is often cited fondly as "the murder capital of the world". On It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia this year, Mac was wearing a shirt with the word "Detroit" spelled to look like a pistol. It was a pretty cool shirt, but the message is pretty clear. People far and wide talk about entering the city limits as a death-defying feat that should only be attempted absolutely never. Of all the perceived negativity around the city, fear of violence probably stands near the top of the heap, particularly for those who might even consider moving into the city. Even for people who have an affinity for that rundown metropolis on the banks of the Detroit River, there is a subliminal and constant fear of something bad happening. Someone might rob you or beat you up or Lafayette Coney Island may run out of hot dogs - all equally terrible outcomes.

For these reasons and more, I was not looking forward to looking through the list of the 25 Most Dangerous Neighborhoods in the U.S. for 2010. My basic underlying assumption was that neighborhoods in Detroit and thereabouts would populate the entirety of the top 10 and then probably a few more in the 15-25 range. I looked through the complete list, and when I finished looking through the list, I had to read the description of what was going on to make sure that I didn't miss something of key importance. You see, no where in the top 25 did a neighborhood from Detroit (or anywhere else in Michigan for that matter) fall. Detroit, "the murder capital of the world", does not have a single neighborhood in the top 25 most dangerous list. That is amazing. When I didn't see anywhere from Michigan on the list, I re-read to try to see if they called out "of course, this list intentionally excludes Michigan because Michigan has the top 10 most dangerous neighborhoods and we just wanted to be more diverse than that." As I did not see that or anything resembling that in the description, I take this list as pretty good news. The article explains "that even the cities with the highest crime rates can have relatively safe neighborhoods, and thus it is less useful to generalize about an entire city."

Something like this won't actually cause people to stop generalizing about the entire city, but it is good fodder to counter enemies of Detroit. The only thing better than arming yourself with armaments is information - neither of which you'll need in Detroit's neighborhoods.