Friday, February 28, 2014

Taste of Ypsilanti

The inaugural Taste of Ypsilanti is tomorrow at EMU's convocation center. The event is from 1 to 3 p.m. and will feature a local restaurants including Ahmo’s, Tower Inn, Aubree’s, Red Rock BBQ, and Buffalo Wild Wings. Nothing says local food like B-Dubs. Right? Ok, snarking aside, you can buy tickets for $1 and then redeem them at the vendors booths for food.

Spring Break!

U of M's spring break starts today. Yay. Personally, I plan on spending my break searching for treasure in melting snowbanks.

It's paczki time

Sister Pie continues to push the boundaries of paczki technology. Case in point: a cranberry-lemon poppy seed pączek. You can pre-order assorted dozen paczki boxes from Sister Pie until 4 pm today.

Gentle readers, it's almost Fat Tuesday and that can only mean one thing: time to gorge ourselves on paczki. Here are some places to get them:

If you're heading out to Detroit, you can always take the classic route and go to the New Martha Washington Bakery in Hamtramck. If you're looking to try some cutting edge paczki innovations, Sister Pie will be selling chocolate hazelnut rye and the above cranberry-lemon poppy seed paczki at 4750 Woodward starting at 6 am.

Closer to home, Copernicus European Delicatessen in South Main Market is a good place to go for some of the harder to find traditional flavors like rose hip and prune. Personally, I'm really excited about trying the paczki from Dom Backeries in Ypsilanti. I hear they are super good. If you're looking for an extensive resource on local paczki procurement, make sure you check out the ArborWiki paczki page.

Gentle readers, where are your favorite places to grab paczki? How many do you plan to consume on Paczki Day?

Photo courtesy of Sister Pie

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Will we see an end to Michigan's Same Sex Marriage ban next week?

In October, Federal Judge Bernard Friedman declined to issue a summary judgement in the case of April DeBoer, et al. v Richard Snyder, et al. setting a trial date for this week. Arguments in the case are expected to last into next week. At that point, will we see an end to the our state's embarrassing same sex marriage ban? This week federal judges have overturned same sex marriage bans in Texas and Kentucky. This is hot on the heals of similar bans being overturned in Utah, Ohio, Virginia, and Oklahoma. Marriage equality is a bandwagon I'm happy to hop on.

More Buses vs. Better Transit Now: Part Deux

Mark Maynard has a pretty good interview on his blog with two folks from the More Buses campaign: Alexis Blizman and Martha Valadez and Richard "Murph" Murphy from Keep Ypsi Rollin’. To be up front about biases, these folks are all pro-millage. Still, they do a good job of explaining many of the issues surrounding the millage.
If you're wondering what this whole transit millage is about, basically the AAATA is asking for 0.7 mills for 5 years to fund it's 5-year transit improvement plan. The 0.7 mil property tax would cost homeowners $70 per year per $100,000 of assessed property value ($200,000 market value). This money would be used to increase the frequency of some routes (including a late night #4 on Saturday) and develop new routes.
The anti-millage folks, Better Transit Now, don't quite have a website up yet. Nevertheless, I will take this opportunity put words in their mouth. My interpretation is that they oppose the millage because they believe:
1) Ann Arbor has been subsidizing the other municipalities that AAATA services.
2) The feel like the AAATA has wasted money on rail studies, etc. while ignoring its core transit mission
3) They say that after 40 years of funding the AAATA, its services in Ann Arbor are not up to the investment the community has made.
Again, this is just my attempt to summerize some arguments I have seen on the interwebs and likely do not reflect the views or all or even the majority of those who oppose the AAATA Millage.

UPDATE: In an effort to get this post up quickly, I sort of trailed off at the end without wrapping the post up nicely. Also, reading what I wrote about the anti-millage folks now, it looks snarkier/meaner than I wanted it to be. I have changed the end of the last paragraph a little bit. My intent was to paraphrase and distill some arguments I had seen posted as comments on the .News and because I wanted to present the opposing side of the debate as neutrally as I could, but that is not what I accomplished. I am interested in hosting a robust discussion about the May 6th Millage on DA. To that end, I am going to reach out to both the folks at More Buses and Better Transit Now and see if they would be willing to write a 500-1000 word "Letter to Damn Arbor" explaining their positions on the millage vote. In the mean time, you can read more about the AAATA Millage on the Chronicle and Local in Ann Arbor.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Lewis C. Risdon Stoves and Hardware

Check out this sweet ad for Lewis C. Risdon Stoves & Hardware down on Main Street. Granted, it is a pretty old ad, having appeared in the 1874 Atlas and Map of Washtenaw County.

'He never brings it up in conversation'

Stuff I did hear in the D this morning when a guy started crossing Michigan Avenue during a red light: "Man, this isn't Ann Arbor! You can't just do that!"

h/t Deadline Detroit.

52nd Annual Film Festival

Gentle readers, are you getting as excited for the Ann Arbor Film Festival as I am? I went to a preview event for the festival last night and it looks really awesome. I'll have a through preview of my own in a few days, but I just wanted to say that the AAFF looks like it's going to be really sweet this year. I'm especially excited about the Penelope Spheeris retrospective.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Racial tension at U of M

Here's a New York Times article on enrollment rates for black students at U of M, viewed through the lens of a canceled frat party for "rappers, twerkers, gangsters":
“There was a very tense climate brewing all semester, and I think the party was just the peak,” [Tyrell Collier, speaker of the Black Student Union] said. Mr. Collier added that his group, which spearheaded the popular social media campaign, had received inquiries from other black student groups around the country looking to use similar tactics. 
“We’re clearly not postracial,” said Tiya A. Miles, chairwoman of the department of Afro-American and African studies. “Sometimes I wonder if having a black president lets people feel like that gives them cover. It absolves people of being prejudiced.”

Organ donation in Michigan

Planet Money profiled organ donation strategies in Michigan. Apparently it's not the inspirational stories that get to us but the deep boredom of the DMV.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Introducing Armstead Snow Motors

Armstead Snow Motors from Seeking Michigan on Vimeo.

Checkout this Michigan made vehicle that never was. Seems like it would have come in handy this winter. You can check out the original 1920 patent here.

Via: BoingBoing

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Someone at Buzzfeed likes Ann Arbor

I wonder if Buzzfeed has an Ann Arbor quota to fill.  They posted a foodie list, and yes, Ann Arbor has a lot of really great food. However, I don't necessarily trust the writer if the list includes an Ahmos gyro or Ashley's pesto fries. What do you think they missed or were misguided about?

I think that it should've included small food companies that are growing in this area, like the Brinery or Ann Arbor Tortilla Factory. Or maybe the writer should've ventured from the downtown area to try Taco King or Arirang.

On another note, does anyone frequent Lotus Thai and notice a change in quality/service over the past month? I have heard rumors/complaints of a staff clean out.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

More Buses vs. Better Transit Now

Can you guess which group supports the AAATA millage? [Source]

Friday, February 21, 2014

Ann Arbor SOUP this Sunday at Live

There's another Ann Arbor SOUP coming up. From their website:

Our next event is February 23rd 6pm at LIVE 102 S. 1st St.

Come hear project pitches from A2Share,  Grange Junior Makers, Pilars Community Wellness Room, and the Wednesday Evening Community Market!

At the event, you'll pay a $5 cover and get soup and a salad. Then you will be able to vote on which of the above community groups gets the pot. Last time the Food Recovery Network got $1096 to further their efforts to reduce food waste at U of M's cafeterias.

Water Hill is on

This message was posted on the Water Hill Music Fest's website yesterday:
2014 Water Hill Music Festival
Let’s make it official.
The 2014 Water Hill Music Festival is scheduled for Sunday, May 4th, from 2 to 6 p.m. Click on links to the left for information on attending, performing, and volunteering.
The deadline to sign up to perform is Sunday, April 13th, three weeks before the event. We encourage Water Hill musicians of every skill level to consider performing. Let the games begin!

Do you guys remember Water Hill, back when it was warm?

FOIA Friday: tracking requests

If you are trying to find out information about an issue or a project using the Freedom of Information Act, you'll need to prepare yourself for delays. Some of these delays are foreseeable and you just need to be ready to wait things out as they grind slowly through the municipal bureaucracy. Other issues can be prevented with some careful preparation.

One thing is certain, though - unlike Internet search engines which have response times measured in milliseconds, you'll have to wait days, maybe weeks, for a response. Here's some suggestions on how to track requests as they go out so that nothing gets lost in the shuffle.

Photo: Muckrock

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Puddle patrol

Gentle readers, the ground is frozen and many storm drains are clogged with snow. Add the toasty temperatures and rain we're getting right now and it's a perfect storm for puddles. The question is, where is the biggest puddle in the city. I spotted this one on Church St. There are probably some larger ones out there. Snap a picture of the biggest puddle you see and send it in. If it's the biggest, you'll get a special prize.

Update: there is a huge puddle at the bottom of Miller, between First and Spring. 

UPDATE II: Here's a picture from Packard in front of Jack's Hardware sent in by Alicia J.


Incase you're not outside, or near a window, here's a vine of the thundersnow for you. You'll probably have to turn your volume up real loud to hear it.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Time lapse of the Huron River ice breakup

Kai Petainen shares this time lapse video of ice breakup on the Huron River from his perspective looking west from Huron Towers towards the University Hospital. It's a one minute video and it has 3,886 photos in it. It starts at 8:45 a.m. and ends at 9:46 p.m. Enjoy.

Siggy Weather

Now, I have had a very bad day that started off with a dead guinea pig and then only declined from there. What made the day worse was that I had to get the weather from a page that looked like this:

I was pretty distressed about this, it's so "severe storms", "stray chihuahua" and "cost me just $70." I was delighted to find out that my friend, an Ann Arborite, created a much more pleasant site called Yes, it features a dog named after Freud, and yes, it doesn't emphasis the weather, but damn, it brightens my mood more than looking outside. Try it out, make it your homepage, pray to his infallible face and renounce your own pets for their inability to tell you the weather.

'Damn Airport Cafeteria': on the 'revitalization' of Capitol Park

At the precipice of the eviction of the tenants of 1217 Griswold, current residents Gustav Brovold and Andrew Roberts share some thoughts about gentrification in Detroit:
Another layer of sorrow is that when we are gone, Dan Gilbert plans to turn this building and the entire Capitol Park area into a “new arts district,” so that the trophy wives of Bloomfield Hills computer industry moguls can make friggin clay cups on pottery wheels every other weekend. 
The irony is unbearable; kick people like us out to make room for people "like us." 
Our greatest fear is the complete sterilization of downtown Detroit; that this city should be so overrun by monied interests with so little sense of the true soul of this place, that every existing institution that reflects the singular character of Detroit will be replaced by some McRetail franchise, and our great city ends up looking like a damn airport cafeteria.
Presumably Bedrock Real Estate, the building manager as of last fall, is bringing the building up to code. When 1217 reopens for tenants, it seems likely that the rent will be as reasonably priced and as reflective of the average city resident's income and needs as groceries in Midtown. In a city whose population is forty percent what it was at its peak, you'd think there would be plenty of room for developers alongside the people who already live here. You'd think there would be a more elegant way to integrate new residences into preexisting neighborhoods without displacing all of the preexisting neighbors. You'd think there would be a way to address building code infractions that doesn't involve issuing eviction notices one month before move-out date.

You would be wrong.

At least the seniors across the street got a full year before their Section 8 homes will start morphing into "market-rate apartments." ("Market-rate apartments" are the new "craft cocktails": you're probably paying too much, and they probably skimped on the good stuff. Except now, someone lost their home.)

On an unrelated note, let's talk about the guy on the left in the third photo in Brovold and Roberts' article. Look familiar? I would recognize that coat anywhere.

Michiganders are sexing it up

According to data from the Spreadsheets App, Michiganders are the sixth in terms of average length of time spent boning down per boink session. Sex in Michigan lasts, on average, 4:14. Now we're no New Mexico, which leads the pack at 7:01, but we're also not Alaska where sex tends to take about 1:21.

Shovel out your drains! Can't find it under the snow? Here's a handy map.

The weather is getting warmer, and there's a chance of rain. Our lovely piles of snow are going to melt, and that meltwater has to go somewhere.

If your storm drain is buried and covered with snow and ice, that water will go into the street, forming huge puddles. Worse, it can land in your basement.

Shovel out your drains! If you don't know where the drains are, the City of Ann Arbor has just published a handy map showing every single catch basin in town. View the map here, or download KML or shape files from the Ann Arbor Data Catalog to make your own custom neighborhood map.

Catch basins in the Burns Park area

You can signal your commitment year round towards this goal through the Huron River Watershed Council's Adopt a Storm Drain program, which aims to improve the quality of our streams by removing debris from the storm strains in your neighborhood and labeling them so others know they lead directly to your local waterway. Sign up today!

Truncated snow octahedron

Someone made a truncated octahedron out of snow and just left it on the Diag.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Back to Ypsilanti

I guess I'm a little late to the Back to Ypsilanti party. MarkMaynard posted about it back in 2007. I didn't know about the song until today when 7ravis posted it to r/ypsilanti. For those of you not in the know, Lee Osler's 1983 ode to Ypsilanti is the City's official song. It's clear why: no other song chronicles more details about the city. Click through for lyrics:

Psychedelic Blues tomorrow at Woodruff's

Some people that I know, and enjoy, are playing a show tomorrow at Woodruff's. Cure the winter doldrums with a mid-week psychedelic blues fix featuring Buffalo Coven Party, King Eddie, del brutto, and Lost Boys.
Listen to the Two-Headed Buffalo
Doors open tomorrow, Wednesday, at 9:00 pm and the show starts at 10:00 pm. There is a $5.00 cover at the door, but that's a small price to pay for happiness.

Nerd Nite this Thursday

Nerd Nite is this Thursday at Live. Topics to be discussed include IP Cameras, Hand Parts, and Beer.

Great Lakes Frozen

Has anyone visited Michigan's coastal areas recently? According to the Detroit Free Press, from where the image above originates, the Lakes are nearly 90% frozen. That's the most since the early 90's. A "cool" picture of Lake Superior is below. See what I did there? Cool not cold? That's how you do horrible puns.
Photo from Gear Junkie

Monday, February 17, 2014

Percent for Art: Decorative manhole covers from Hikone, Japan

This decorative (and functional) manhole cover from Ann Arbor's sister city of Hikone, Japan was photographed by Ville Masaki and shared in the Flickr Japanese Manhole Covers group. If you're thinking of ways to spend the dwindling Percent for Art money on projects with a water and sewer nexus, what better way than with decorative manhole covers?

Other cities with art funds going towards decorative ironwork include Vail, Colorado, which has even sold their manhole covers on eBay because they are so beautiful (and durable).

Amazing street sticker

Get it? Cause it's a maze. Sorry the picture is so out of focus.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Ann Arbor City Council preview for Tuesday, 18 February 2014

A preview of what's coming for Ann Arbor City Council for Tuesday (not Monday), 18 February 2014. The meeting agenda is on Legistar.

Highlights: The defunding of the Percent for Art program proceeds apace, with a public hearing and three agenda items on the ticket. One proposal, put forth by Sabra Briere, would defund the Argo Cascades art project since no artist has been selected for the location. Council is also going to consider the purchase of the Edwards Brothers Malloy property on S State St.

As always the Ann Arbor Chronicle has a longer preview. The Ann Arbor News also previews the Edwards Brothers Malloy purchase.

Showdown over fire inspections

Ryan Stanton has an interesting article on the showdown between local real estate tycoon, Ed Shaffran, and the city Fire Marshall's office over fire inspections of Shaffran's properties. My reading of the article is that Shaffran is upset at 1) an increased frequency in fire inspections, 2) the fees associated with the inspections and 3) that he has to meet 2009 fire codes even though he purchased and renovated his buildings in 1995. Here are some of my thoughts on those points.

1) remember last January when there were two apartment fires, one at 401 Division and one at 1310 Packard? It turned out that the most recent fire inspections of the buildings had turned up fire safety violations. Maybe an increased frequency of inspections isn't a bad idea.

2) The fees don't seem that bad. From the article:

...there's a $690 base fee for a building that's 20,001 to 50,000 square feet, and $1,290 for a building that's 100,000 to 250,000 square feet. If there are multiple tenants, there are additional fees that amount to $120 per tenant space, or $60 if a space is less than 400 square feet.
That doesn't seem that bad. As for the accusation of "double dipping" by charging per tenant space fees, it seems to me, that fire inspectors likely have separate check lists for each tenant space so the fees seem to be based on the amount of work required to inspect each property.

3) Maybe I could get some help from the all the lawyers out there, but I believe there is a vested public safety interest in buildings not burning down. Hasn't our whole experiment with fire codes and fire inspections been tested in court? Is the city worried that it is on shaky legal ground with it's fire inspection regime? Can't they get a court order compelling Shaffran to let inspectors onto his properties?

Gentle readers, do you have any insight into this matter?

Friday, February 14, 2014

ABC Dinner Deal

If you get dinner tonight with a partner at ABC they will give you two tickets to State Theater show. 

Get Pataphysical at UMMA this afternoon

What's Pataphysics? I don't know, but here's what the University of Michigan Museum of Art has to say about it:

Presented by UMMA, the Avant-Garde Interest Group in the Rackham Graduate School, and the UM Department of English, this UMMA Dialogue features experimental poet Christian Bök (University of Calgary), art historian David Doris (UM), and music performance professor Stephen Rush (UM) in a series of presentations and performances inspired by Pataphysics — a philosophical precursor of Dada and Surrealism that reveals and dissolves the conceptual categories that constitute our understanding of reality by playfully placing everyday objects that we take for granted into odd, strange, and funny contexts.
Sounds sexy and surreal.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Want to Go to Kansas?

I know that some of you are sickened by the continuing winter or scared of the mysterious panther sitings on Pauline. Well, this Galentine's Day, flee the drab Ann Arbor and heading to whimsical Kansas with a complete stranger. According to this Craigslist post, you can get a free ride as long as you are not fat, hispanic, or 45. 
The best part about it? The picture you send him doesn't have to be nude yet! If you are still scrounging around for things to do next week, this is really a godsend. I mean, how often can someone be a dishwater blonde and spontaneous? 

H/T C. Nowack

Have you seen the Pauline Panther

Move over, North Campus Cougar. Looks like you have some competition. Via Missed Connections?
Pauline Panther (Pauline Blvd, by the Stadium)

Me: Just another driver on Pauline Blvd.

You: The gigantic black cat-like creature that ran in front of my Prius and disappeared into the bushes.

Seriously, has anyone else on Pauline Blvd seen the enormous black feline-type animal? Or does anyone in that area own a really, really big cat? My friend saw it a week before I did, and I called him a liar and an exaggerator. I see now that I was wrong.

Don't have any complaints about the panther, just curious what species it actually is. We can live in peace, panther. We can live in peace.

Fascinating. Has anyone else seen this creature? I wonder what it could be. I wish there were a size description and more information about the tail. The term panther is problematic; it can refer to jaguars (Panthera onca), leopards (Panthera pardus) or possibly mountain lions (Cougar concolor). It may be tempting to conclude that the panther in question is a mountain lion, the only big cat to have a historic range that includes Michigan. Unfortunately experts have concluded that the two reports of North American Black Panthers (both from the 18th century) are the results of miss identification by non-experts. Upon reexamination these two accounts were probably ocelots (Leopardus pardalis), a medium sized cat with a melanistic phase native to the neotropics. It is unlikely the Pauline Panther is a melanistic ocelot because I doubt they would be too happy with the cold weather.

There are of melanisic (e.g. black) jaguars and leopards. Upon initial consideration, these two seem like unlikely candidates for the Pauline Panther. Leopards are native to Asia and Africa. Jaguars range from the Southwest US through Southern Argentina. Unlikely to be the Pauline Panther, right? WRONG! In his groundbreaking 2011 Canadian Field-Naturalist article, Evidence Confirms the Presence of Cougars (Puma concolor) in Ontario, Canada, Trent University biologist, Rick Rosatte presents the following image:

That's right, a mothereffing melanistic jaguar in Guelph, Ontario. If it can happen in Canada. It can happen here folks. Apparently large cats have a habit of escaping from poorly regulated private zoos. So, it is plausible that the Pauline Panther may be a melanistic jaguar. But it is unlikely. Jaguars are big; the smallest females are still about 36 kg (80 lbs.) and 1.2 m (4 ft) long without the tail. Additionally, the jaguar, like the ocelot, probably wouldn't like the snow.

There are other possibilities too, especially if the creature in question was not that large or not that feline. It could be a gray fox (Urocyon cinereoargenteus) or a very dark colored coyote (Canis latrans). Finally, there are the most mundane possibilities: a black Labrador retriever, a very larger Maine Coon, and finally giant raccoon.

Gentle readers, have you seen the Pauline Panther? What do you think it could be?

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

5th Candidate in Ann Arbor's Mayoral Race

Meet the newest candidate to enter Ann Arbor's Mayoral Race: Rabbit Urbanist. The local rabbit's campaign follows on Twenty Pound Carp's unsuccessful bid to represent Ward 4 in the November 2013 City Council Election. Some people in town fear a rabbit may not legally be allowed to run in the race.

At the time of press there has been no word from, @AnnArborCrows, @UMSquirrel, @DexterBear, or the @NorthCampusCougar regarding possible campaigns in 2014. If you would like to run for elected office in Ann Arbor, you have until April 22nd to file as a partisan candidate.

Snow ghost

Saw this small yellow ghost on top of a snow pile by the CC Little Building. I think it has a twitter account written on it. Unfortunately I couldn't read it because it was blocked by snow.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Selfies in the Stacks

Wow, the libraries are heating up on social media today. Hot on the heals of @UGLTweets comes this sweet new Tumblr: Selfies in the Stacks. Love the idea. Hope the authors maintain it.

H/T @juliewbee

The UGLI is on Twitter

Someone made a Twitter account for the Shapiro Library. It is probably the funniest Twitter account in Ann Arbor right now. Here are some of @UMichUGLI's choicest tweets:

H/T: @juliewbee

Monday, February 10, 2014

There’s No Place Like Home

Garrison Keillor has a wonderful piece in the February NatGeo about the history of place he experiences in the Twin Cities. Having spent most of his life there, Keillor's paints his history onto the city's streets. It's rich and full of Midwestern pride.
There’s No Place Like Home

When a man lives in one place for most of his life, he doesn’t need GPS. He is guided by memories of boyhood bike rides, the ever present Mississippi, and the undeniable power of rhubarb.

As someone who has spent most of his life in the greater Ypsi-Arbor Area, I feel like you could just replace Mississippi with Huron and that quote could be about me. It really is a wonderful piece from America's Nostalgia Laureate.

City of Ann Arbor hoarding snow in Vets Park

Gentle reader, are you running out of snow? Apparently, the City has been taking people's snow and just piling it up in the west parking lot at Veterans Memorial Park. If you are looking for a place to make a tremendous snow fort though, this could be the spot.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Are stickers the new tagging?

I feel like I've been seeing a lot more stickers in town lately, and a lot fewer tags. I even think I've seen a tag of Lurk's before. Maybe the taggers are changing media.

Friday, February 7, 2014

FOIA Friday: breaking news vs document dumps in the case of Fire Station Four

When you send a FOIA request to a unit of local government, there's no telling what you'll get back. Chances are, if your request is interesting, it won't come back quickly, so there's little chance that you'll be breaking any sort of news that someone else might want to leak out more quickly. When you do get back records, they may look like more of a document dump and less of a story. That's the nature of the beast.

This week's FOIA Friday stares at a recent FOIA request I sent in, where the results that came back looked more like a document dump than a neat story. In each of the cases I've published the results to the Ann Arbor Area Government Document Repository (a2docs), in the hopes that if and when the story comes around again there will be some background to draw on. Read on to learn about Fire Station Four and the moldy living quarters that caused it to be temporarily closed for renovation.
I am responding to your request under the Michigan Freedom of Information Act received December 23, 2013 for records associated with the closing of Fire Station 4, test reports showing the presence or absence of mold, mildew, asbestos, or other noxious or toxic substances, contracts, agreements and plans for the abatement of mold, mildew, asbestos, and other noxious or toxic substances, including but not limited to steam cleaning, carpet repair, and asbestos abatement, correspondence to and from the City Administrator, the City Safety Manager, the Safety Services Administrator and the Fire Chief regarding conditions at Fire Station 4, correspondence to and from members of the Ann Arbor City Council and the Mayor regarding Fire Station 4 and copies of press releases, web pages, or correspondence produced by the Communications office regarding Fire Station 4.

It’s Like a Bird Aviary, but for People

Photos by Lindsay Blackwell

The Ann Arbor Aviary is the perfect example of what’s great about Ann Arbor. You wouldn’t expect to find a gym specializing in the “aerial arts”— which include aerial silks, trapeze and lyra—in a city of this size, but there it is, next door to a storage facility out past the airport. For the record, they also offer other classes like belly dancing, and burlesque performance, and at one time, something called a “Twerkshop” for anyone needing professional instruction in that area.

Once a month they offer an aerial sampler class for beginners where you get to try the silks, trapeze and the lyra. It’s a fun way to spend a Friday evening for anyone who isn’t put off by having to sign a death and injury waiver.

My favorite portion of the class was the silks, mostly because you’re only a couple feet off the ground, plus we started out on them, so my biceps had not yet become fatigued to the point of failure. It’s also the portion of the class where it is easiest to fake elegance.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

In other ivory towers: Evanston, IL residents fear 'transient academics'

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In Ann Arbor, people fear recent downtown development targets a narrow demographic of wealthy undergrads. In Evanston, IL the Southeast Evanston Association has announced opposition to plans to build an extended stay hotel downtown over fears that it will attract the wrong kind of academics--transient academics--as guests. Do you think they mean visiting faculty and adjunct professors? I have known some pretty rowdy post-docs in my day. The comments are pretty priceless comments on the article. Several speculate that the "wrong kind of academics" are really frequentist statisticians, you know Northwestern is full of Bayesians.

Get over your S.A.D. with Free Wafel Friday

This is real life. The Wafel Shop turns one year old tomorrow, and to celebrate, they're giving out free waffles (okay they call them wafels, but I feel like a big poser writing that). WHAT.

Fine print, or the print clearly on the Facebook event page in the same size font, says that they buy the waffle and then you buy the toppings, or you can opt to instead just get $5 off any menu item. They have vegan and gluten-free options too, so you don't have to feel like a jerk bringing it up in a group where someone might die an embarrassing death if they ate one.

H/t to Evelyn Hollenshead and thanks to Stacy Spensley for the bomb photo (which I should specify is not of Wafel Shop waffles, but you get the idea).

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Last day to buy Lunafest tickets online

So Lunafest is tomorrow at the Mendelssohn. You can get tickets at the door, but they're $15 there as opposed to $12/$10 online (public/student, respectively). They'll only be available online til noon tomorrow, so if you want 'em, get 'em quick!

I'm gonna be going and am most excited to see the short about the older ladies and their basketball team, although I think it may give me a sad knowing that there are grandmas that could beat me at basketball (not being self-deprecating here - I'm 5' 3" and can barely palm a tennis ball).

See also: Lunafest coming to Ann Arbor, which has the trailer.

How much has climate change impacted Ann Arbor?

New Scientist has a cool map of NASA data showing global temperature changes. In Ann Arbor average temperatures have increased about 1 C compared to the 1951 - 1980 average. That's a lot.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The great salt shortage of 2014

Who stole all the salt? We're getting reports that the region is experiencing a salt shortage. Anyone know where a guy can score some good old fashioned CaCl? I've got a box of Morton Kosher Salt, but you'll have to pry that from my cold, dead hands.

UPDATE: 2014-02-04 @ 16:42 EST

These places purportedly have salt:

Downtown Home and Garden: Received a pallet of 100 25# bags of sweet, sweet CaCl @ 15:21 EST

ACE on Washtenaw is reported to have road salt

The big box stores on Carpenter are reportedly dry, but sources say Lows is getting some tomorrow.

In that vein, @a2chronicle called Stadium Hardware at approximately 16:00 EST and reports the following "Stadium now says try calling Wednesday; they are BEGGING their supplier; I told him: BEG HARDER; he said he would." So Stadium Hardware may have salt tomorrow.

As of last night, the Meijer on Jackson Road only had 15 bags left in stock.

The City of Ann Arbor has a free salt/sand pile in front of the building at 721 N Mail. There is a 5 gallon limit and there is mostly just sand left:

We'll keep you posted on this story as it develops.

Empowerment Plan

Ignore the American Express message in this commercial. To find out more about the Empowerment Plan, click here. 

Dumpster Diving

The Moth is formed from a series of storytelling events held across the country. Every week, the best stories are compiled to form a radio podcast, about an hour of true stories. 
We have our own Moth events at the Circus every month. This events produced a story featured on this weeks podcast. Elise Hunter told about amorous dumpster diving, in a humorous and brutally honest fashion. Listen to the whole podcast here, but be forewarned, it's hard not to cry at the first story about a cop and his dog. 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Snorkelin' Rick

Snorkelin' Rick Snyder on Make A Gif

Why is Rick Snyder snorkeling in his Super Bowl ad? Why is there sexy saxophone music in the background?

H/T: Ed Vielmetti; image source.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

B a Beekeeper, Go to B School

From a mailing from Matthaei Botanical Gardens: 
Ann Arbor Backyard Beekeepers (A2B2) is offering two new fee-based courses in 2014 at Matthaei Botanical Gardens for beginning and intermediate beekeepers. The courses are held both indoors and in the apiary. Participants will learn about equipment, bee biology, pests, honey extraction, and fall and winter preparation. The free monthly drop-in A2B2 Tuesday evening classes are still being offered. 
The Beginning Bee School course takes the new beekeeper through year one, and covers equipment, bee biology, basic management, and the many situations that beekeepers face throughout the year. Advanced Bee School assumes that you have existing hives and goes into more details about hive management and pest and disease control.

Participants are expected to bring their own veils/protective clothing! There are teaching hives at Matthaei which are part of the instruction. Contact Meghan Milbrath, , for more detail.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Ypsi Train Trouble

You know the weather is bad when the train gets stuck. 

Ypsi street art > Ann Arbor street art?

Saw this hand stenciled, hand lettered poster outside Wurst Bar on Sunday. Ann Arbor, you gotta up your street art game.