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Thursday, August 14, 2008

My first 12 second video

The Cat on

I am trying out, iMovie and Flip video. The neighbor cat is the actor.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Snag Films

If you haven't seen it already, I invite you to check out Snag Films, a great place to find a wide range of documentaries like the one above on Pugs.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Tattle Away

I love finding new places, whether they be actually new or just new to me. I loved the first visit to the new EMU Student Union; the new Mallet's Creek branch of the A2 library; IKEA; even Cabela's.

The same is true with blogs. I have occasionally been lurking at Ypsi City Desk for a while without taking the minute or so to add them to my link list. Johnny Action Space Punk can be quite entertaining.

Tonight, I found Johnny's link to The Ypsi Tattler. Now, here is some fine local writing. Take a look.

[Back to preparations to work another consecutive weekend. Yee haw!|

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Murdock and Sweeney:
Long time activists back with a vision

In the summer of 2006, during the run up to the last City Council election, Pete Murdock and Grace Sweeney were far away. They took a 4-month summer road trip up through the U.P., across Canada, through the Canadian Rockies and into Alaska. While Ward 3 positioned itself to vote in Brian Robb, a relative newcomer on the political scene, Pete and Grace were roughing it in pristine country with their truck and a two-person LL Bean tent. In a recent interview, their memories of the Alaskan journey remain vivid. They recall the roads on the Alaskan Highway and particularly the Dempster Highway and the portion made of hard slate and a night spent after two flat tires on the rugged roads with a small town's one mechanic patching their tire. They draw out a wilderness journey where they lived side by side with black bears, bald eagles and fauna. A place where celery is sold by the stalk and milk by the glass, where water is supplied not from the ground but in huge cisterns on stilts outside the buildings and where rugged individualism is still the norm rather than the exception.

Not all retirees would embark on this kind of adventure sans a super RV or the comforts of modern times. True, Grace insists they planned out every step of the journey and stayed in a variety of lodgings from motels and hotels, to B & Bs to their tent. But, again, who would decide to leave warmth, cats and comforts of home behind to strike out and meet Alaska head on?

Apparently the same kind of people who would after a long and distinguished career as public servants—where Pete was elected 3 times mayor of Ypsilanti and 4 times Councilmember of the East side before serving as the manager of the Washtenaw County recycling drop-off station—decide to re-engage in the City's political scene to bolster the common good. What is most refreshing is that Pete and Grace's approach is totally lacking in the "been there, done that" attitude. It is as if Ypsilanti is the new Alaska, the new frontier, where Pete and Grace will continue tilting at windmills. In their case, the windmills are sure to be built by working stiffs to generate wind energy and reduce our carbon footprint.

What makes this most surprising is that for all intents and purposes, they seem to truly have been there and done that. Pete came to Michigan in '66 and moved to Ypsilanti a year later to be closer to his job at an auto plant. He and Grace were already activists and in their spare time did the work that led to today's Food Co-Op. After work on Fridays they drank coffee and pulled all nighters to drive with other volunteers in a station wagon, a van and a truck to Detroit's Eastern Market. Arriving between 3:30 and 4 am they would divide up the list of food items for purchase and each proceed to buy what the young, co-op needed from the farmers. Then, they'd have breakfast, drive back and crash, sometimes with blankets in the back of their vehicles. The food would then be sold out of the back of the old AME church on Adams. (It was many years later that the Co-Op had a store front.) When asked why they volunteered for this assignment, Pete talks about how they were all trying to help out the students and city folks who were looking for fresh produce at low cost. Grace says, "Because it was fun and exciting."

It was during these days that Pete and Grace first became involved in the nascent recycling movement, recycling glass in barrels on location. As their interest deepened, Pete and Grace became more and more involved in the recycling movement, trying and succeeding in establishing the first curbside recycling program in Washtenaw County. Again their tactics were drawn out of grass roots activism. Volunteers used their own vehicles to drive through neighborhoods and pick up recyclables.

Of course, Grace and Pete's work with the affordable food movement and recycling barely scratches the surface of their activities through the years. In addition to his work as an elected official for many years, Pete served as union steward, Pete and Grace helped start the East Side Neighborhood Association. They assisted with the establishment of the historic district and worked with the Tenant's Union on affordable housing. In 2005, Pete retired.

Then the City Council proposed to effectively cut bus service for the City of Ypsilanti through withdrawing from its purchase agreement with the Ann Arbor Transportation Authority (AATA). Pete and Grace leapt out of retirement to join with the Keep Ypsi Rollin group. This activism led to further activism with the Stop the City Income Tax campaign, which, in turn has led to Pete putting his hat in the ring again for a potential fifth term as Council Member for the East side of Ypsilanti.

Pete has a vision for the future of Ypsilanti. He talks of extending a "regional system" developed out of a "bottom up structure." He looks to a day where residents can pitch in and help craft this vision, but stepping into the current leadership vacuum says people "can't get activated until they have something to get activated around." The best bet for putting such a focal point in the hands of the people is likely to be through the "what's old is new" grassroots activist route of Pete and Grace.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

With any luck, tomorrow plants go in the ground

Spent today preparing the flower/vegetable beds for planting. To my pleasant surprise, the gazillion varieties of mint seemed to come back. I knew some mint was there but the weeds covered most of it.

Tomorrow, hopefully, I can find some tomato and tomatillo plants. It seems that this might be my best hope for eating tomatoes again after all the salmonella scares.

Thanks to those who have asked about Maverick. He is almost back to his old tricks, trying to bite off his bandage and insisting to me that I have not idea how bad it itches.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Back to the Cone

I have a neighbor who lets my dogs out at lunch.

Around lunch today, I received a call from another neighbor saying that my dogs were loose. I left work immediately.

When I arrived home, he was waiting for me with my dogs in my yard. What a kind soul.

Unfortunately, Maverick was hurt with 3 cuts on his back legs. Two seemed to be ok but one is about an inch and deeper than I'd like. I called the Vet right away. They didn't have any appointments until tomorrow and not even a Vet tech available to talk to. My neighbor with "dog skills" suggested that since he wasn't bleeding badly to wait and see before going to the Emergency Vet.

Tonight, I called the Emergency Vet who said that basically it will be a rough night whether we come in there or not, and suggested it would be ok to wait until tomorrow while keeping him quiet tonight.

This morning before work, Maverick was lying quietly against my leg as I sat pondering great thoughts. Chester laid against the other leg. My thoughts came around to how wonderful it is to have two precious beings whose greatest desire is to be near me. They are really some of the best team players I've ever seen. We travel around the house together; when I'm in the yard they come out with me; when I am in an area without them they worry.

If you would have asked even three years ago, I would have told you with great certainty that I would not lose sleep over a dog with a cut. Funny how you can feel so differently when you are actually placed in a situation.

Instead of sleeping I will sit here next to this noisy, talkative, neurotic rescue dog with separation anxiety, trying to bury myself in work so as not to make myself an emotional wreck.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Wrong Number in Seattle

At one point during last week's crazy crunch week, I had to make one of those dreaded phone calls to try to "set things right." The whole prospect of the call put me in a bit of an angry funk. I really would have just rather left town than try to deal.

Finally, I could procrastinate no longer and dialed the number.

The voice on the other end was not what I expected. It was clearly an older person, but not clear whether they were taking the calls of my intended recipient or not.

A moment later, it became clear that I had dialed the wrong number.

Instead of a business or even a person working from home, I had dialed a 93-year-old woman in a retirement home in Seattle.

For her part, she was not at all upset and assumed I had meant to call the party store that people frequently were trying to call when dialing her number. What followed gave me better perspective.

She said that she loved getting calls to the wrong number because these were the only calls she received. It seems that life in the retirement home is not all it's cracked up to be. She still chases men she said but can't keep up with the ones she wants and doesn't want the ones who are her age, they can hardly move at all.

She told me, "I worked at a bank most of my career, I bet you can't guess my last name."

It is "Banker."

I told her that the name must have helped her get the job. She said, no, she didn't have the name when she started. She married her husband because of his last name.

Then she mentioned that after a happy life together, he had already passed on, thirty years ago.

After a bit more banter, I told her to have a good afternoon. She told me, "I always do."

I rang off and made the call I'd originally intended with all of the negatives gone. If a 93-year old woman in a retirement home in Seattle can be this positive about her afternoons, surely I have no cause to complain.