Archive for September, 2008

Med Students

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

For the last seven years or so, first year medical students at the Univ. of Michigan have taken time in the fall to visit alternative and complementary health care providers. I’ve hosted between 4-7 students each of those years. Each year they are more open, accepting, and experienced with alternative therapies.

The ideal is for them to be able to observe a session being given. I asked my brother to be the subject , his situation is interesting and a possibly very intriguing medical mystery. He was great, charming and in good teaching mood.

I like doing it. What a great way to build lasting bridges and relationships that will impact these future MDs forever. And to have exposure right away to a more holistic approach to health care. It is a fabulous program. On Friday I get to go and help with the small group debriefing. I always learn a lot.


Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Gary and I made applesauce tonight. He has been picking apples that grow on Eisenhower, I’ve been finding some pretty and tasty ones at the dog park. We spent about an hour quartering, coring and cooking and have a bit over a gallon. We’re freezing it. Some of the apples were pretty gross, but there was plenty of apple in most of them. I also have a nice stash of eating apples that I hope will last in the refrigerator. If I had my cold cellar room that would be better, but not this year.

Simple to make, nothing better than homemade, it will be a treat this winter.

There are so many apple trees out there, with the fruit just falling to the ground to rot. So much free food to find!
Tomorrow I’ll slice up the remaining apples and freeze them – ready to make into pies. Gary makes a great apple pie.


Monday, September 29th, 2008

I’m in the awkward time of writing — the story is out, people are reading it, I’ve heard no feedback yet.

It always makes me a bit anxious, fidgety, hungry, and nervous. A strong background to my day. I only begin to relax once people start commenting. Even if I get some good criticism – until then I”m waiting for the she to drop. Just waiting….

The Ann Arbor Observer has the story. Check out the October issue, Around Town. Let me know what you think.

Being a published writer makes me crazy. And I love it. Books, articles, no matter the size, it all makes me crazy.

Nala update

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Nala has had some significant tests recently, and she is doing so well.

This smart dog who was given up for bad by her previous owners has settled in, become a calmer and more predictable part of my household, and has shown great maturity and patience.

A few weeks ago, I left her overnight by herself – with lots of people coming by for walks and feeding. She did perfectly.

She sat in on the Co-op board retreat all day Saturday, and she was well behaved and didn’t intrude much at all. Both dogs got a little stressed in the last hour – but they were more reflecting how the people felt more than anything. She did well.

She has been letting me catch her at the dog park. It gets easier and easier.

She still steals things, she still destroys things made of plastic, but more and more she can be in the kitchen on her own, she is OK downstairs, she rarely jumps on people, she is calmer and friendlier than ever.

I have a really good, sweet, loving, happy dog. It has been almost a year, and it did take that long for her to get it — but she also just turned three!

I so look forward to the next sweet 6 years, and hope that we have a long time after that as well. That time with Zomba was stolen from me, I can only hope that I have it with Nala and we age gracefully together. I want her around for my entire time in my fifties!!

Tech Experts for Obama

Monday, September 29th, 2008

A pleasant, calm, logical, thoughtful video about how Obama supports existing and future technology.

Please pass it on. The issue of net neutrality is especially critical.

On the radio

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008

I’m just back from doing an in-studio interview with David Fair, who hosts an environmentally focused interview each Wednesday morning at 8:20 AM on WEMU radio. The impetus was my op ed piece on bicycling, published in the Ann Arbor News. The show is also available on line, archived here.

He did a nice job. Hopefully I did as well. If I had unlimited time and ignored the rule about making just a few points and not getting complicated I would have so much more to say — so I’ll high light some of those points here instead. On the radio it was basically bikes need more visibility to be safe, it is to everyone’s benefit to have more bikes on the road, and enforcement should reflect riding styles and be encouraging to bikes.

Details? In no particular order –

John Pusher has written a lot about getting more people biking and bike safety. He suggests three things –
– separate bike lanes in areas that are heavily traveled
– separate the bikes at intersections
– do traffic calming in neighborhoods to make them pedestrian and bike friendly.

An Arbor Mayor John Hieftje claims we have a ridership commuting rate of 7.5%. Which is way beyond the country wide rate of 1% for bicycle usage. COntrast that to Belgium has 10%, Denmark 20%, and the Netherlands 30%. In Europe the usage is evenly distributed by age and sex. In the US mostly young males.

Places that have really high numbers like Amsterdam and Copenhagen have now created 400 KM in each city of separate bike lanes and paths – removed form car traffic. Other measures include traffic calming, car free zones, bike streets were bikes have priority over cars, and expanded rights for bicycles (for example bikes are 2 way, cars are one way).

“Bike Boxes” or “Advance Stop Lines” are helping as well as advance green signals for bikes, turn restrictions for cars where bikes are allowed to turn, and the yield on stop and stop on red lights all recognize the unique issues and support bicyclists.

Consider timing of lights for bicycle speeds, (creates traffic calming).

Lately there are 20-30 bikes in front of the Co-op most times of the day.

Ticketing bicyclists for running red lights, even when they came to a complete stop first, is accomplishing nothing as far as safety and promoting bicycling. There are many other offenses of greater concern – cars driving in bike lanes, blocking bike lanes, running lights without stopping, cars cutting off pedestrians and bikes when turning, not using turn signals, speeding, etc.

Most important are two studies that show that as the number of bicyclists increase, accidents decrease. Check out Science Daily and Injury Prevention. Policies that increase the number of bicyclists are better at decreasing accidents than bike safety programs that focus on the rider. Most bike accidents are cased by motorists, not bicyclists, so training and licensing have little real effect.

The Toronto Bike Plan found that people are more comfortable using bike paths and lanes seperate from cars, and of course least comfortable having to be in traffic with cars and no separate lanes.

30% of the bike car crashes were from bicycles on sidewalks or just leaving sidewalks.
What were the crashes? 1997-98
motorist driving out at controlled intersection – 284
motorist overtaking – 277
motorist opening vehicle door into bicyclist – 276
left turns while facing bicyclist – 248
right turn not at red light – 224
r turn at red light – 179
drive out form lane or driveway into bicycle – 179

and from there the numbers drop dramatically. There were 2325 car bike crashes total recorded.

A Danish study showed that while bicycling is dangerous, there was a 39% greater mortality rate in people who did not bike to work.

The benefits of increased number of bicycles include increased safety, better health fro the rider, less pollution, less money spent on parking spaces, less wear and tear on the roads, less pollution and climate change effects, and less traffic congestion. A new one for me is that as you make roads more bike friendly, you tend to make a friendlier environment for pedestrians as well.

So there is my unorganized rant on bicycles. I believe the radio interview will be far more coherent and simple.

many misc. links

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

An interesting article on studying the brains of people with Borderline Personality Disorder.

Research on bicycle safety – the more bicycles on the street, the fewer accidents.

Alternative use of parking spots – turn them into mini temporary parks

In case you wanted to read still more about Sarah Palin here is a list of facts that apparently weren’t checked in advance and a little humor posed as a defense. Paln showing deeply disturbing stupidity about the constitution, and I’ll end this small tirade with a reminder that it is McCain who we should most deeply fear.

To help with your dperession, yet another Lego masterpiece – the Simpsons opening in lego. Love it.

Wacky art. Fun photo.

And I can’t say why, but I was taken by this short video about a guy who specializes in demolishing industrial chimneys.

More later….

My dad in the news

Monday, September 22nd, 2008

The Ann Arbor Chronicle did an article on the group my father started. Read the article for an explanation. Both of us are involved in building community, exploring alternatives to the waste of a single family home by exploring sharing and combined use of resources. I’m glad his project has taken off, and is helping people have greater contact and be outside of the usual resource heavy system of consumption and waste.

His influence has been large, and my creating the cabin to be a co-using situation as well as my regular drop in dinners are based on ideals he shared with us as he was teaching courses in decentralism and talking about intentional communities.

This is simple and pratical. Good work.


Sunday, September 21st, 2008

Seems like the theme for my weekend.
I have a lot of trouble with shoes. And contrary to what Bill O’Reilly says, I don’t like them. I don’t think they are particularly important, attractive, or necessary. And they are amazingly expensive.

Can you show up at a professional event wearing Chacos? Probably not and pull off being taken seriously, even if it isn’t Birkenstocks. Which is my alternate choice if I’m walking only a few blocks.

So I gave in and bought some “dress” shoes on Friday so I would be all put together to perform a wedding on Saturday. My friend Joanne pulled me through the process. Last year my one pair of dress shoes was pronounced totally unacceptale by a group of women who were here for dinner. But I bought them in 1993 on the suggestion of my friend Curt! How could they be…. well I suppose they are really old now. But not worn much…. And the dog mostly chewed them on the inside where it doesn’t show.

Well it was at least a fun experience – the sales person at Mast shoes was really helpful and tolerant of my crazy comments and ambivalence about the whole process. She started by stating I wore Chacos as she measured my feet. Wow, is she psychic or have they somehow transformed my feet so obviously? Umm, yeah, I have tan lines.

She brought piles of boxes and I tried some with a little heel – the tension in my calf was an immediate “get these off my feet” and she thought that was funny. And said at least I had tried the experience. So I got some tall shoes, but not really with a heel. Once I picked them, I still noted a little tension in the joint of my left big toe. So she brought more of the same size and said there was some variation within pairs of shoes as they are hand stapled. Sure enough, out of the three I tried, one was a little better in the spot. I never knew. What a concept!

And as Gary noted, someone who was truly a good sales person. Rare these days. Thanks Mast.

So also on Friday I pulled out my biking shoes. Now I can’t even remember when I got them, but I suspect it was before I was very anemic and was still doing some long distance biking which would put it…. um I was anemic until 2001, and seriously for over five years before then, so maybe about as old as my truck (1995) or earlier? It seems reasonable to me to have shoes and clothes and even cars that are 20 years old or more, but apparently I’m out of step (pun intended) with the rest of American culture.

The bike shoes still fit, and they really do help with staying in the toe clips and getting some more lift up on the petal. So I liked them as Gary and I did a 20 plus mile trip to North of Chelsea, via Huron River Drive. I am back in shape to be able to do a longer ride! Yeah! But back to the shoes — the back part is supposed to have foam as a cushion and it is all broken down into odd pebbly particles. They are still pretty functional but so old they are self destructing. Having things become unusable from age rather than wear just seems wrong. And I resist it.

Yet that is reality. For us all and all we own.

I think I like things best that show wear rather than age. Including people.

And the new shoes did hurt a little — but I also had hardly worn shoes all summer. We left the wedding before the dancing. And I had really wanted to dance with Gary. So he put a big band CD into his computer, loud enough to come through the window, and we slow-danced outside on the dewey grass under the stars, he was barefoot and I had my Birkenstocks.

And shoes really don’t matter much at all.

another option

Sunday, September 21st, 2008

A number of blogs have posted this video — Michael Palin for President, complete with video proof of his fitness.
Hey, we need to laugh.