michigan

All posts tagged michigan

The first time we visited Detroit, it seemed like a nice enough city.  Of course, looking at the long term, Detroit was about halfway declined by then (Detroit had peaked in the 1950s).  The decline, however, was much more obvious to us in 1987.  Maybe we just visited more obviously declined neighborhoods on this trip, but we found that to be really sad.

Cincinnati was also kind of depressing as well.  In 1980, my mom and I had spent the day at Union Terminal, which was, at the time, a shopping mall.  When we returned in 1987, the mall was closed.  We had, at that point, no idea that three years later Union Terminal would reopen as the Museum Center.  We had had dinner in the rotating restaurant atop the Quality Inn which is now a Radisson in 1980.  That restaurant was closed as well.

I’m hoping to redeem the memory of that trip to Cincinnati, at least, the weekend of the total eclipse in 2017.  We won’t be able to see the eclipse in Hopkinsville, Kentucky, which will be where the eclipse will be total for the longest period, as the trip back to San Antonio will take too much time.  If all goes as planned, we’ll be going up through Memphis and Nashville to Cincinnati and then across to either Kansas or Nebraska, depending on where we can get a room at this point.  Then we’ll come straight back and go back to work and (likely, though the calendar hasn’t been released yet) school the next day.  And we don’t need to stay right on top of the eclipse site, since we’ll be driving.  We can stay a bit out of the way and drive to the eclipse site.  Having our car will also open up more possible places to see the eclipse.  If the place we stay ends up being overcast that day, we can go northwest or southeast until we find a place that’s open.

After Wisconsin, we repeated the trip that we made in 1980, this time from Detroit down into Ohio.  In order to get to Detroit, we could have driven back down through Chicago or up through the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and back down.  Instead, we took the Badger, a car ferry that, at the time, traveled back and forth between Kewaunee, Wisconsin, and Ludington, Michigan.  Nowadays, the route goes between Manitowoc and Ludington.

I’ve always had a little problem with motion sickness.  It first really showed up when my folks took me deep sea fishing back in the 1970s.  I was miserable.  It never occurred to anyone to bring some kind of motion sickness medicine.  When I got older, we went on the Wendella Boats (a future Northern Illinois Destination) and I discovered that, so long as I can get fresh air, I’ll be okay.  Unfortunately, the car ferry was in 1987, long before Internet-based FAQs.  I didn’t know what I was getting in for, and didn’t know if I’d have access to fresh air.  As a result, I took a Dramamine before we left and spent most of the trip dozing in and out of consciousness.  It was a nice convenient way to travel from one state to the other, however, even if really industrial.  The Badger was originally built to carry train cars, so the Queen Mary it ain’t.

I was still a little drowsy until we got to our next stop, which was in Frankenmuth, Michigan.  Frankenmuth is a nice little town full of white people, much like Door County.  The difference is that where Door County was settled by Scandinavians, Frankenmuth was settled by Germans from Bavaria.  And you can tell that is where they are from, because the town center has lots of kind of stereotypical looking Bavarian buildings.  I suspect that Frankenmuth looks more like Bavaria than Bavaria does (and in 2019, I’ll be visiting Bavaria and will be able to put my theory to the test.

Frankenmuth was the final destination that was new to me on our 1987 trip.  My next travel memory, and the final post on our 1987 trip will be a little bit about the return to cities like Detroit and Cincinnati.  I should be posting that one on June 4, if I continue to keep up with my schedule.

This will be kind of a short post, just to fill in the missing five years here.

I honestly thought that we went to EPCOT in 1982, but we were in Florida in July and EPCOT didn’t open until October.  Though that might explain why I have a memory of Spaceship Earth, which is the big golf-ball-looking structure, still under construction. We probably went to The Magic Kingdom and saw Spaceship Earth from a distance.

I wish I could find our photo albums from these years.

Since I don’t think we went anywhere in 1983, 1984, 1985, or 1986 (though I would be thrilled to be proven wrong), I guess that next up was our family trip to Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio in 1987. We returned to some of our haunts from our 1980 trip and added a few more.

I do have photographs from this trip, mostly taken by my mom, so I will be adding them as appropriate once I start making those posts in another six days or so.

You will also see the first 400 words that I had already written on EPCOT in another couple of months, once I get to 1989.

I’ve been to Detroit twice — once in 1980 and then again in 1987.  The city declined sharply in the seven intervening years.  My impression of Detroit in 1980 was of a nice little city and in 1987, my impression was of an empty little city.  As with Cincinnati, my only pictures of Detroit were from our 1987 trip, so you’ll just have to trust me that in 1980 Detroit was pretty nice.

The one thing I remember about Detroit wasn’t in Detroit proper, it was Deerfield Village in Dearborn.

Greenfield Village is an open-air museum that is part of a complex known as “The Henry Ford.” .he Henry Ford what is unclear.  I get the impression that it’s a ford (as in low-water crossing of a river) named “Henry.” Greenfield Village was dedicated in 1929 at a ceremony that was attended by historical figures including Marie Curie, Orville Wright, and Will Rogers.

Greenfield Village is now home to a large number or historic buildings, including the home of Noah Webster and the bicycle shop of the Wright Brothers.  There is also a reconstruction of Thomas Edison’s laboratory from Menlo Park, New Jersey.  The original laboratory had been destroyed and so the people who created Greenfield Village moved the two remaining buildings and measured the foundations on the site so that they could recreate the other buildings as closely as possible.

I am not under any kind of misapprehension that the 1880s were anything like a “golden age.”  Too many of my relatives and ancestors were living in tenements for me to do that.  As a result, some of the “let’s go back to a simpler time” stuff is lost on me. It wasn’t actually simpler. However, as an educational destination, Greenfield Village is fun, particularly as a way to look at the work of the innovators of the past and looking forward to the innovators of the future. At 90 acres, it’s also a nice place to get some fresh air.

I went to Google Maps to see if it would look like I remember, and I discovered that they let the Google Street View car into the museum.  This is another one of those situations where the amount of time it’s been since my last visit has come back to me.  This coming August will be 29 years since my last visit, which I remember was a nice temperature, but was very sunny.  It’s not nearly as sunny as I remember, because the trees are nearly 30 years older than they were my last visit.

The sidewalks of Greenfield Village were designed with accessibility in mind, but some of the historic buildings have steps and the people of The Henry Ford, perhaps to preserve the landmark nature of the building, have not installed ramps.  On some of the buildings, however, the presenter can come outside to do his or her presentation so that wheelchair users can get the information even if they cannot come into the buildings.

I have just shown myself that I can, in fact, read and write up an entire issue before I ran out of writeups from my old blog. I am writing this, for what it’s worth, on August 15, 2015, several weeks before it will go live on my blog. Following my old pattern, I should write up April 2014 next, but I cannot find that issue at the moment. Therefore, I will go on to March 2014 next.


It’s Time for a Conversation, by Joshua Foer, photographs by Brian Sherry

It’s Time for a Conversation follows several researchers into dolphin language. Dolphins vocalize and some believe that these vocalizations are a language. For example, when two dolphins at the Roatan Institute for the Marine Sciences are given a signal that means “tandem,” the two dolphins are to do a behavior in unison. The dolphins will go under the water and whistle at each other, then they will do the same behavior together. Are they playing a very sophisticated game of “follow the leader,” or are the sounds they exchange actually communicating a plan?

So far, scientists have not been able to find much in the way of meaning in the chirps and whistles of dolphins. They have been able to determine that dolphins give themselves names while they are calves. For the rest of their lives, if one dolphin uses the call that the dolphin chose as his or her name, that dolphin will respond. Beyond that, there has not been much progress.

It is possible that their intelligence is so different from ours that we will never be able to learn to “speak dolphin.” However, if it is possible for us to learn their language, someone, somewhere is bound to figure it out.

This article has one of my favorite photographs so far in this project. The opening image, on pages 30 and 31 of the issue, there is a photograph of spinner dolphins in Hawaii. The water is perfectly clear and what I assume is the bottom of the ocean is white, and looks more like clouds than sand. This is fairly disorienting, in a pleasant way, and gives me the impression that they are not swimming, but flying. Or, maybe they are flying.

Taking Back Detroit, by Susan Ager, photographs by Wayne Lawrence

In Taking Back Detroit, Ager writes about the attempt of some brave souls to bring the dying city of Detroit back to life. We start out with Anthony Hatinger, who is setting up a tilapia farm in a former liquor store. The Tilapia live in the basement and the water is pumped upstairs, where the fishes’ waste feeds the plants of an indoor garden. The garden consists largely of green leafy vegetables. Once the waste has been removed by the plants, the now-clean water flows back down to the fish in the basement.

And he is just one of many people who are breathing new life into the city. Ager is a journalist who grew up in Detroit and spent the first 25 years of her career there, so this topic is very personal to her.

The fate of Detroit is not nearly as important to me as it is to Ager. In a global sense, Chicago and Detroit are in the same region, but in a practical sense, they are really very far apart and I have only ever been to Detroit twice, once in the 1981 and once in 1987. My mom and I were appalled by the decline in such a short amount of time. So, for me, reading about Hatinger, and about John Hantz, who invested four million dollars in improving the lives of Detroiters by buying up empty lots and planting trees in them, were heartening to me. Green space is an issue dear to my heart anyhow (you will see a lot of posts on parks and other green spaces in my writing. Green space is important to the psychological well-being of people, and the people of Detroit need things that are helpful psychologically.

The work is just starting however. The schools of Detroit are still not performing as well as they should, and Detroit still has a disgraceful level of unemployment. And yet, people are moving into the city and helping to bring jobs and money into the city. And hopefully, with those jobs and money, what was once known as “The Paris of the Midwest” will someday, perhaps even someday soon, have a Renaissance of its own.

Quest for a Superbee, by Charles C. Mann, photographs by Anand Varma

In this era of colony collapse disorder many are worried about the future survival of the honeybee. Colony collapse disorder. is not one problem, but many. Some colonies die off because of the increase in chemical pesticides, but others are killed by disease, and still others by pests. Some colonies don’t die at all, but habitat loss causes them to move elsewhere.

This is not the first time bee colonies have died off in large numbers. Most recently, exactly 100 years ago this year, a virus wiped out hundreds of bee colonies. A young monk known as Brother Adam traveled the world looking for bees and eventually bred was became known as the Buckfast Bee. The problem is more complex now, since there are so many other causes, but if Brother Adam was able to breed a bee that would survive the virus, it may well be possible to breed, or genetically engineer a bee that will survive current threats.

Quest for a Superbee outlines some of the projects being done, in breeding, in genetic engineering, even the possibility of robotic bees — tiny drones that will fly into a field and pollinate the flowers. Some, however, think that nature will find a way and that, despite more significant losses, bees will become naturally resistant to the threats that are killing them off today. I say that so long as the new bees are tested properly in a closed environment before setting them loose in the outdoors, any and all possible solutions are welcome. If genetically engineered bees are what we need to get through until the honeybee evolves enough to survive current threats, then that is what we should do.

Harnessing the Mekong or Killing It? by Michelle Nijhuis, photographs by David Guttenfelder

Over the last 20 or so years, the nations that the Mekong River flows through, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, have been damming the river in hopes of increasing the prosperity of these nations through the generation of electricity. And the “generating electricity” part seems to be working. The “increasing prosperity part” could use some work.

You see, the people who have lived along the Mekong for generations rely on the river for food, including fish and rice, and the number of fish in the river has dropped from levels that existed prior to the dams being built. Added to this is the threat of flooding. When it rains heavily upstream, the water has to go somewhere, and that “somewhere” is the villages alongside the river.

The lack of prosperity doesn’t end there. The governments and companies that have been building the dams are making lots of money by selling the power generated to other countries. Very little of the power generated is used by those in their own countries. Almost no one in Cambodia has electricity because the power generated in a way that will basically be free once the dam is paid for, is too expensive for the populace.

Can anything be done? Water experts and other ecologists would like to see development of the dams slowed down and planned better. Dams are being built haphazardly by each nation without regard for what the nearby nations are doing. There are places that the dams could be put where it would have minimal impact on those who live in the area, but it looks unlikely that the governments will work together for the good of their citizens any time soon.

Walking the Way, story and photographs by Michael George

Walking the Way is words and photographs about George’s trip down the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago, in Spanish), a route that goes from France through Spain to Santiago de Compostela, a cathedral in Spain which is rumored to hold the remains of the Apostle James the son of Zebedee (as distinct from James the son of Alphaeus and also James the brother of Jesus).

The Way of St. James was originally a purely religious pilgrimage, but in modern times, 60 percent of those who walk it walk for nonreligious reasons, such as to get space from their daily lives or to contemplate a change in their lives.

For some reason, George specified that he walked the Way in the summers of 2012 and 2013. I had to dig up more information on this. Did George take the trip in two parts (which seems like cheating) or did he do it twice? Apparently, he did the walk twice. The first time, he was just out of college and facing a change in his life status and so he did the walk as a pilgrim. Then he returned a year later to meet the people and photograph his journey. The results of this second trip are largely what we see in this article.

I know that I should probably be doing October of 2014, since I’m sort of working my way outward from January of 2015.  This issue has an article on Nero in it, though, and I went to Rome in July of 2014, so I’m skipping ahead a bit.  Also, October of 2014 is probably somewhere in my son’s bedroom.  I’ll get to it once I find it. (note: I found it later, in between two Nature Conservancy magazines.)

The Evolution of Diet, by Ann Gibbons, photographs by Matthieu Paley

The Evolution of Diet talks about the “Paleo diet,” which posits that people should be eating a meat-based diet that limits, or eliminates, beans, grains, and dairy products. The theory is that the human genome hasn’t evolved in the last ten thousand or so years.  It starts out speaking kind of positively about the Paleo diet, arguing that the hunter-gatherers’ inclusion of meat in the diet is part of what allowed us to develop advanced brains.  However, as the article progresses, we get farther from this argument.  Gibbons quotes Amanda Henry, who has found evidence that humans have been eating grains and tubers for at least the last hundred thousand years.  Gibbons also quotes Sarah Tishkoff, who makes the point that humans did not stop evolving ten thousand years ago.  We are still evolving and many populations have evolved to digest lactose and starches that others have not.  Oneof the quotes that is highlighted is “The real hallmark of being human isn’t our taste for meat but our ability to adapt to many habitats and to create many healthy diets.” Continue Reading