Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Detroit paranoia VS Detroit reality

So tonight we are sitting in front of the fire and we hear a noise. I look out and there are two guys shoveling out front walk and driveway, it’s 9pm and???

Twice today guys have showed up wanting to shovel the snow, but we are in Detroit and who the heck is going to be shoveling snow at 9pm???

So we go into paranoia mode and figure they must be casing the place or are going to ring the bell and want to get paid. I mean who shovels snow at 9pm!

So I called a neighbor because the association pays to have the snow plowed, the city only does downtown, and ask if this is something the association pays for.

Aislinn, has a more positive out look, that turns out to be the case, and says maybe they are the neighbor kids - more later...

But still it seems weird so we are paranoid. Too much of the “hype” of Detroit...

Well earlier we were out walking the dog. We were coming home and a car was stuck in our driveway. Because of where our house is our driveway get used as a turn around place for neighbors so it is not unusual for people to turn into our driveway to turn around. It’s a neighbor a few doors down and she has gotten stuck because of the snow. So we put the dog in and we and another neighbor help push/ rock her car so she can get some traction and make the move.

As it turns out it’s her kids! She has sent them out in the cold to shovel our walk and driveway.

It’s a good thing and our paranoia, maybe more my paranoia, has gotten us on the defensive over a good neighbor thing.

It’s funny because in San Francisco where there is less “paranoia” (for no good reason) we would have been shocked at this, but here in Detroit there is a very strong neighbor helps a neighbor culture and in reality we should have expected this. It was one of the first things Aislinn thought but it just seemed “strange” from a west coast orientation so we got paranoid.

Maybe it’s because we did have 5-6 inches of snow and that is a bad thing to be stuck in, and there is no way we would let someone sit out there in stuck in those conditions but it never occurred to me that someone would “repay” that “kindness” by going out in sub freezing temps to shovel out snow.

So it changed from paranoia to a “It’s a Wonderful Life” kind of moments.

It’s great when life surprises you in a good way. It happens more times than not in Detroit.

Kind of the opposite of the press that you read on Detroit.

Maybe after we live here awhile it will seem normal, but right now it still is one of those “wow” moments.

And a great cap to the Christmas week.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Summing up a bunch of months

It’s been awhile. So lets see... what happened.

Still living in Detroit ;~) and there are a number of ways you can take that.

Here are some tit bits and now that it’s snowing I’m going to finish up a bunch I started earlier so there should be a little flurry of activity ;~)

Kid Rock has moved into the hood, kind of.

Apparently he looked at a house down the street but actually bought another place. East side good size colonial... So it has to be around here someplace. Well actually it’s is around here. Basically down the street till you hit the water and hang a left a couple of blocks.

A slightly right wing nutcase. Actually as far as I can tell not really a nut case as in Ted Nugent.

The black guy kept the white house! A lot of folks were worried, I didn’t think it would be that close but then I got worried. So I checked the LasVegas odds, yes they bet on everything, and they had Obama by 90.5 electoral college votes. So I relaxed again.

We had some snow around Thanksgiving :~)))))) But it didn’t last. I’m kind of hoping we will have snow for Christmas, but?

The lakes NEED a bunch of snow this winter, because of a couple of dry years and warm winters they are very low. We are getting some cold weather but it gets mixed in with some warm so it’s kind of Bay Area neither here nor there kind of weather but generally colder. We have been having heavy fog and you wake up to the fog horns on the river honking away. Makes it feel like SF. Though my father says they don’t use fog horns in the Bay Area any more. I thought I remembered hearing them not long ago but maybe it’s just such an iconic Bay Area sound I just think I heard them? But we have them here!

Work continues on the house, smaller less impacting work, though I still haven’t finished the sun porch. most of the floor is out but I need to get more aggressively destructive and peal up the bottom of the walls also to actually put in the new joists and re do the floor. Probably spring.

Been brewing for more parties and such. My numbers are going to be close to 150 gallons this year!

Speaking of which we kind of resurrected out Thanksgiving dinner. Camille was the only other family to make it and we held it on the Sat after Thanksgiving (hardly anybody was available on Thanksgiving) but we had just under 30 folks and it was very reminiscent for the SF annual bash.

The BIG change here is that they all fit in the dinning room!

The kids, there were a bunch of younger ones, had a grand time doing all kinds of stuff that their parents thankfully didn’t know about till later, but no permanent scars and they cleaned up after themselves!

I tried pickling, not so successful. And made a bunch of chili souses from the huge late crop of peppers.

That reminds me. Aislinn was hot to do raised planter beds so we build four 2X8 beds and she stuffed them with all kinds of plants the GREENING of DETROIT was giving away. We ended up with a monstrous crop of tomatoes, a bunch of tomatillos bunches of peppers and pounds of eggplant. We still have some cabbage and broccoli out there (winter is late) and piles of herbs.

OK I’m signing off this post.

To Be Continued.........



Friday, December 7, 2012

Slow food what a awful name

In a fast world who has time for slow food. OK I get it it’s the opposite of “fast food”, but it sounds like eating in an eastern block country where it takes an hour to get a menu. And that is the WRONG impression to make.

What is it about?

Well, not eating poisoned disease laden food. Not eating meat that has been processed in such filthy conditions that they have to soak it in toxic chemicals so it has a chance of passing a rare FDA check.

Now there are laws around the country that say IF I say something bad about say the meat industry they can sue me. It doesn’t matter if what I say is true or not it’s still bad for business and so they can sue me.

Well I won’t say anything bad about the food industry, but personally I would rather eat food than a factory product.

Fortunately I can say negative things about the government, at least for now.

And while the “evil” corporations are the “perpetrators” that is kind of what they are supposed to do. We would all like business to think about the environment and the future and well their customers health. But WE (as in the government we let govern) have passed laws that push them to always look for the short term profit. Ideally they would be “good citizens” and fight that but really when was the last time someone gave you some money that you handed back for ethical reasons?

So they are doing some “bad” things but the FDA is supposed to keep that from happening. Democrats AND Republicans have gutted the agencies that are here to protect us from those bad practices. At best it’s a 50-50 thing.

Back to the topic.

The name is trying to imply the opposite of Fast Food. But really good food can be fast and you can take a long time to make junk.

So I stick “slow food” in with other bad names like “global warming” and “foodie” and pretend I heard a better name.

Maybe unjunk food, or how about, and this is radical, Real food.

Basically look at the ingredients, if it doesn’t sound like stuff you should put in your mouth then don’t.

Of course you could go radical and actually cook your own food.

It’s not always possible, unless you get a bit crazy with it or have a LOT more free time than most people do. BUT you can cook 90% of what you eat and buy your ingredients with some thought of where it came from. I try not to buy produce that has traveled thousands of miles and especially if it’s from a country with a spotty track record of public safety. In most places you can head to a farmers market and buy from the people who grew it. You can also often buy meat from ranchers at the market. That depends a lot on where you are of course. Fish also is often available that is fresh and not shipped in from a distant land.

Most cities also have shops or areas that are a close second to the farmers market. In the Bay Area you can go down to the docks and get very fresh fish. In Detroit you can also get fresh fish, though most of what is fresh is fresh water fish, but there is lots of that. We also have a HUGE farmers market. It has tons of produce, and fish and meat. The meat is seasonal, as in they don’t sell fresh meat when it’s not freezing out side, but some of the same people sell frozen during the summer. There is some fish but there is also a shop across the street that has a large selection of fish and meat.

Once you have the “stuff” meals are not that hard.

Breakfast can be made in not much longer than it takes for the coffee to brew.

Lunch can be very fast as in make a sandwich.

Dinner could take a long time, or be very quick.

Even things like bread that take “a long time”, don’t actually take a lot of your time. Mix it up, beat the hell out of it, and let it sit for some hours. Beat it again, shape it, let it sit for an hour or so and pop it in the oven.

Your time is maybe 15-30 min total, quicker than going to the store and back.

Don’t get me wrong you can spend a great day cooking. But if you need to be quick that is easy also, and you will reduce your “chemical load” a lot. The generation that grew up on a lot of processed food (post WWII) has not fared to well in the health department.

So go out and eat some unjunk food and celebrate the passing of Twinkies, a “food” so toxic it can be used as a defense for murder.


Friday, May 4, 2012

Netflix or Amazon Prime

I don’t know how many films Netflix has for streaming but it’s a LOT, many thousands anyway.

Well I read something about Amazon Prime having fewer but still a lot of films. And it offers other perks so I though I would give it a try. Netflix is not super cheap and I don’t watch that many films so...

Well it may be true that Prime has a good number of films available but most (by far) cost extra to watch!

Some visual aids.

So here is I assume what’s available. It’s a bit misleading since a lot of “titles” are actually behind the scenes and trailers.. but still almost a million


BUT what you can watch with our extra charges is drumroll less than a thousand and a LOT of those are trailers and such.


Now there is this ??? category that doesn’t look to bad but the difference is that it lists any film that yu have to buy but can get free shipping on.


And if your looking for free streaming here it’s ridiculous. But I also think it’s probably meanigless.


So as far as I can tell, and I did try this out for a month, Prime gets you around 700 streaming titles of which maybe 3/4 are actual shows (some are TV shows so maybe less than 1/2 are actual films). Netflix gets you more than the total that Amazon offers including the ones you would have to pay to rent (on top of membership).

Bottom line IF Prime makes sense for you with out the streaming go for it and the few films available are gravy. If you are looking for an alternative to Netflix Prime is not even a distant compeditor.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

No truth in the News and no news in the Truth

This is more of a rant on the poor state of journalism in the US than it is about Detroit.
You are warned...
There are a couple of incidents that have come up recently that I find disturbing.
A teaser for this post is that FOX News reported a story more honestly than CBS or CNN.
Let me preface this with I DO NOT LIKE FOX NEWS. I think they are biased and often not even close to factual.
It brings up my alternate “Topic” “Is NPR actually better than FOX News?” But as nice and button pushing as that title is it’s really CNN and CBS that were the stand out Bad guys and I haven’t heard NPR’s coverage so...
The actual story in question is the sad case out of Florida.
The spin I and pretty much everyone else in the US got from the media was that this jewish white guy (not stated but implied) in Florida saw this innocent looking black young man (and we had pictures of this very non threatening kid to go along with the story) that happened to be wearing a hoodie. Got threatened because he was black (we get some 911 transcripts to prove he was fixated on him being black), followed him against the orders of the police and hunted him down and shot him. The police being racist bastards didn’t charge him.
Now that is a story to get pissed about and a whole lot of people, including me, did.
Unfortunately a lot of the “spin” was just spin to sell papers and make a buzz.
Not that our shooter is sweet and innocent but this story is all grey and not black and white.
So what IS the story.
Well our “villain” has a “jewish” last name but he is hispanic. But that doesn’t play into the white on black crime angle so not talked about.
Our “hero” is not the innocent kid in the photos.
Those are his photos but they are from when he was 12. He was 17 and 6’2” tall,he wasn’t that kid anymore.
To be fair there have been some claims the photo is a fake but there are archives of his twitter account that show similar shots. Also what doesn’t show here is that he had a bunch of tattoos.
He was wearing a hoodie but also the rest of the “gansta” out fit.
Then there is the twitter archive.
Where he is maybe dealing drugs??
And he was on a 10 day suspension from school for something the family’s lawyers have had the court seal.
None of this means he was a bad guy or did anything wrong BUT he also was not the innocent 12 year old he was painted to be. If you take away the “innocent child” angle the story changes dramatically.
Our “villain” did ignore police saying he shouldn’t follow the guy, but they didn’t order him not to. AND he lost him so he was heading back to the car when the shooting happened.
How did the confrontation actually happen then? Well our hero followed our villain, confronted him and decked him, then he got shot.
From a FOX News report, but verified by others since.
"The guy on the bottom who had a red sweater on was yelling to me: 'help, help…and I told him to stop and I was calling 911," he said.
Trayvon Martin was in a hoodie; Zimmerman was in red.
The witness only wanted to be identified as "John," and didn't not want to be shown on camera.
His statements to police were instrumental, because police backed up Zimmerman's claims, saying those screams on the 911 call are those of Zimmerman.
"When I got upstairs and looked down, the guy who was on top beating up the other guy, was the one laying in the grass, and I believe he was dead at that point," John said.
Zimmerman says the shooting was self defense. According to information released on the Sanford city website, Zimmerman said he was going back to his SUV when he was attacked by the teen.
Sanford police say Zimmerman was bloody in his face and head, and the back of his shirt was wet and had grass stains, indicating a struggle took place before the shooting.
Again this doesn’t make our villain a good guy, but it does paint a very different picture from the race obsessed guy hunting down the innocent kid.
The notorious 911 clip that has our villain talking about the scary black guy, is not actually what happened. It was edited by CNN to sound that way. Our villain didn’t mention color the dispatcher ASKED him and he answered. They cut it so it sounded like he was following him because he was black.
That tidbit was brought out by FOX news. Since I don’t watch FOX News I heard about it when John Stewart brought it up. All I can say is WTF!
Does this mean that race had nothing to do with it? Well no. But we would have to go to other incidents to come to real conclusions. Would our villain have been less concerned with a white guy he didn’t recognize “prowling around”. Hard to say, maybe but he was hispanic so maybe not? We all, if we are honest, are more leery of folks that are not part of our “group”. Some of those “groups” are based on race, some are not. I have worked for black theatres where I felt part of that group so in a lot of cases I would have been more worried about a white guy prowling around the theatre than a black guy. I also did a show at a gay theatre in SF and we (non gays) had to be educated about how careful you had to be leaving the theatre because you would be assumed to be gay and there were folks who would beat you to a pulp on that assumption.
So I (as a white guy) have quite a bit of experience being on the “other side” and yes you often have to watch out for folks who are not “in your group”. The real question then would be whether out villain thought our hero was in his “group”. I’m guessing not. Was that a race issue? I’m guessing partly. But our villain was a watch captain so he knew everyone in the neighborhood. If our hero had been in the neighborhood then he would have been part of the “group”. But our hero was just visiting the area and so our villain didn’t recognize him. I think that probably had more to do with it than color.
The police didn’t arrest out villain because there is a witnesses to the incident and there really isn’t a case. There might be in another state but by Florida law it’s self defense.
He is on trial now because of public out cry but he will almost certainly walk because of the laws in Florida. Actually he would get off in any state that allows you to carry a gun since it was a fairly clear case of self defense.
At most he might get tried on unintentional manslaughter in other states. But even that is thin because it is pretty clear he was getting pounded before he shot.
Now it gets a bit complicated from a human stand point since our villain really set up the situation. But by the time the shooting took place he was no longer the aggressor so...
It’s a sad story and our villain is certainly guilty of creating the environment that lead to the shooting but so was our hero. He could have let it go. He didn’t and by being the first person to “attack” he looses (legally) all the benefit of having been pursued.
The larger sad part though is that there wasn’t anything close to real journalism going on in the sources we (non FOX news watchers) have come to rely on.
That leads to the title above.
In the old Soviet Union there were two state papers. One was named “Truth” the other “News”. The Russian joke was that there was “no truth in the News and no news in the Truth”.
It’s a sad day when Russian jokes apply to American Media.

BTW I will gladly alter this to reflect new information providing you can give me some way to substantiate it. I looked at a bunch of sources and as far as I can tell everything above is accurate.

Actually what I'm going to do is delete stuff that turns out to be wrong and just post a link here to the Wikipedia article since it seems to be one of the most balanced accounts.

My point was more about bad reporting than to try and "solve" the case.  There is still a fair amount of conflicting stories so...

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


So it’s been a year. Actually a bit over but I’m lazy about posting.

A year ago the house was freezing. The dog and I had no heat or water, the roof was kind of patched, there was snow on the ground and we were heading into lots of demolition then pouring rain and sweltering heat, and more destruction, and trees falling over and blackouts etc.

But in April and early may I was just trying to keep warm and waxing poetic about the good old days when I had flush toilets and running water. Showers and flush toilets. The ability to wash clothes and dishes and... flush toilets.

Well, it’s been a year and on the 31st of March we held a party. Did I mention that this neighborhood like parties. Anyway we had somewhere between 100 and maybe as high as 150 over the course of the night. Went through a lot of home brewed beer, lots of food (these neighborhood parties are pot lucks) and generally had a good time.

I was in the basement (brewery) manning the taps and thought (mistakenly) that people would come down get some beer and head up. It got crowded upstairs so a lot of folks decided to just camp out in the basement. That was fun but it meant I hardly saw anyone who didn’t come down. I had some help so I did get up eventually but wow.

I had brewed around 15 gallons of beer and five of hard cider. That was all consumed shy a class or two. Even though a ton of food came, it all got eaten. We had hardly anything left over. A lot of kids came with parents and they had a room for games and such upstairs but a lot were hanging out with the crowd so I guess it was interesting enough for them also. We did stock a large amount of juices etc. so they weren’t starved for libation.

Monty, who has been party tested but never with such a large crowd, resisted all his breeding and did not counter surf. He just kept circulation keeping track of the goings on. He slept pretty solidly for the next two days.

In April last year it looked like


This year March looked like


And now we are in full bloom SPRING!

BTW this is the same date as the snow picture above, but this year...


But back to important things.

You can look back at the posts if you don’t remember but at one point the house looked like a bomb had gone off downstairs.

But now!

The dinning room


Once looked like


And the “breakfast room” (we really haven’t figured out names for all the rooms yet).


Used to look like


Actually it got a lot worse. About 1/4 of the ceiling and parts of the wall were gone before the it started to get better.

I like this shot... It’s the stairwell to the basement. When the bozo owners at some earlier time moved the stairs they made them really steep AND not enough head clearance. So I put the sign on the head bonker so people would notice and not get knocked cold coming down.

Must have worked because no concussions!


The basement “brewery”. That is the old boiler behind me that we are trying to sell.


Looking the other direction in the basement.


And some “before” shots.

Removing the old heating system



And YES it was wet!


So a good year. Early spring and who knows?!

A friend sent an article from the Huffington Post

The #1 most affordable place to buy a house?


The #1 most expensive place to buy a house?

San Francisco.

This may be why this year there have been three households (other than us who have moved into Indian Village from California and at least two from NYC. There are a lot of new faces and suddenly we are no longer the new comers but “old hands” in the hood.

So long for now from the Big D.


All the nice photos of the Party were by Annie Oneill.

She does weddings and all kinds of events.

She shot these as a favor because she is both Great! and a great neighbor.

Her email is

and here website


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring is springing - Global warming is a crock

I like the title, gets your attention and 1/2 are mad at me and 1/2 are finally!

Well it’s true, “Global Warming” (at least as most people think of it) is a crock.

The general impression is that “global warming” means we will get warmer weather. Actually while the globe may be warming YOUR weather could be doing just about anything. Our weather is just off and weird. Last winter was one of the coldest in history, at least since folks started keeping track. The summer had the “heat dome” and was one of the hottest on record. Now we had a super mild winter and late spring like temps in March! And the Rockies are getting truckloads of snow and freezing temps.

So though the Globe my be warming YMMD.

DSCN0104-2012-03-22-10-38.JPG We are track to be the warmest March on record.

Parts are nice. (for perspective hop back to my first posts from Detroit last year in April)


But come summer there are going to be a ton of bugs. Good thing we have a lot of bats!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Making tracks at Motown Studio A

Aislinn and I wandered over today and ended up singing in studio A! OK so it’s the museum now and nobody was recording but still kind of cool. And it’s an attached garage! This was THE studio for Motown. Only one hit was not recorded there. Well it was recorded in the building but not in the studio... It was recorded in the bathroom! Got to get that “singing in the shower” Motown sound. The studio had a “futz room” (a Fantasy studios term) built in the attic with lots of hard surfaces and a speaker and microphone. Can we say low tech reverb.

It was a LOT of fun walking around.

Motown Museum

If you come out and visit we’ll take you by and you can also sing in studio A - Hitsville USA


It had a fun warped LogoBlogo-2012-03-15-12-37.jpegreminded me of Harvey

BUT they haven’t updated it in a LONG time and it doesn’t work with Blogger anymore and that is where my blogs live so...

I’ve looked for an alternative for awhile and there were some promising alternatives but none were as simple and just plain easy to use.

MarsEdit is nice but kind of $$$, and this is just for fun after all.

Mac Journal from Mariner is what I have landed on. It wasn’t really all that blog friendly and the last time I tried it it was convoluted and hard to do what I do, which is not very complicated. Some text a link or two and pictures.

But they came out with a new version and it seems to be much better. Or my brain finally figured it out???

Either way it is working well so maybe I will get back to publishing more than once in a great while.

I have a few drafts so maybe in the next week I will start catching up.

To come.

The trip to the Bay Area.