Sunday, January 4, 2009

The 2008 recap

Hmmn ... two posts looks pretty sparse. I reckon it's time to flesh out this alleged blog with some actual words. Am I going to type quickly? Nope. I'm going to dig up a few items from my e-mail and copy them in here. In the publishing biz we call this "repurposing of content."

Remember that folks, you're not getting leftovers here. You're getting prime repurposed content.

In this case, I wrote up a pretty good summary of what Monique and I did with our 2008 in an e-mail to a friend of mine last month. Here it is:


So, what have we been up to lately? For starters, Monique and I are once again dog owners. We welcomed Katie the Beagle into our house in February. She's very sweet and not particularly obedient. She had previously belonged to our neighbor, who had gotten her over the holidays for her two small daughters and then quickly came to realize that she travelled waaaaay too much to own a dog. So, we took her in on a trial basis, then quickly made it permanent. Katie's first night with us was the first night of the Westminster Dog Show, when the beagle won the Hound Group. And on the second night of Westminster the three of us watched Uno the Beagle win "Best in Show", so we reckoned it was a pretty good omen. It's worked out very well, especially since the little girls next door still get to play with her quite a bit. Our neighbor had original gotten Katie from a rescue society and we think she was a puppy mill breeder dog before she came to us. She arrived without knowing a single trick (unless you consider "bark at the rabbit" to be a trick) but after a year of work she will now do "sit", "down", and "come" ... as long as you have a liver snap in your hand. I think "heel" may be next year's project. Right now when we try it she starts by lying down next to me, rolling over to show her belly as I walk forward, getting up and running forward a bit, then lying down and rolling over again. It's not "heel", but it is very entertaining.

Beagle ownership hasn't been all that time consuming, though. Most of my time and energy last year went into overthrowing the government. I could go on and on about the national stuff, but I know that everybody's tired of that campaign. Besides, most of my time went into a local campaign trying to help a local state rep named Andy Meisner to get elected as our county treasurer, which would be the first time in more than 30 years that a Democrat won countywide election, and the first time in 40 years that the incumbent or his father wasn't our county treasurer. A countywide race here is a bit larger than you might think. Oakland County has 1.2 million people, which makes it larger than nine states and about the same size in population as Maine or New Hampshire. You can see Andy's web site at: To cut to the happy ending, it was the single best-run campaign that I've ever been involved in, and we won by almost 30,000 votes, 52.1% to 47.5%. The Dems also won the county prosecutor race. By winning those two seats, the Democrats secured a majority of the redistricting board that will re-draw county commissioner lines after the 2010 census, which pretty much guarantees a Democratic majority on the board of commissioners from 2012-2021. (Come to think of it, there was an interesting post-election piece on Oakland County in the New York Times:

So, all in all, it was a successful year overthrowing the government at both the national and the county level.

On the village front, I am still our Village President, where I spent most of my attention the first half of the year helping us to work out the details of our police merger with Walled Lake. As near as we can tell, it's the first police department merger of its kind in Michigan, so it involved all the joy you can imagine in working out the details of making municipal bureaucracies and regulations do something good that they're not really designed to do. Out of sheer kindness, I'm not going to drag you through the details, but will just cut to the happy ending which is that we signed a five-year contract that's saves both communities money while building a better police department for both of us. Most of the next year or two is likely to be spent in getting sewers to the North shore of the lake and in the 18-step process of converting from a village to a city. (Again, I'll spare you the details.)

My job has been going pretty well this year: plenty busy, but not a lot new to tell. In a surprising change of pace after years and years of cutbacks, the company I work for is actually hiring some new employees and making new products. This should be good news for Monique and ECDI, too. She's been involved in some work to define some new sets of data and content, which should eventually lead to some new contracts.

On the rugby front, after two international tours in 2007 I pretty much devolved into an old-boy-only rugby player this year, in great part because my left knee has developed this lovely new condition called "degenerative arthritis". Who could've known that 25 years of collision sports could be bad for your joints? I spent a lot of time on physical therapy over the summer, which seemed to help. I also spent the year on the Detroit RFC's officers' committee, which pretty much wiped out the six free minutes a day that I might've otherwise had. As part of my effort to regain my life in 2009 I handed over my officers' position to somebody else for next year. My rugby time in 2009 will be mostly limited to drinking beer and telling everybody how good I used to be, though I may trundle about with the old guys again if my leg feels up to it.

As for the rest of the family, I guess the biggest item of news for 2008 is that my brother Mike and his wife Cathy had a daughter named Zoe. Also on the big news front, my brother Bob got married last winter; he and his wife Danielle are expecting a baby in the Spring. My sister Susan started up an interesting and very funny blog at Its slogan? "Raising Kids: Surprisingly Like Raising Livestock." And overall, everybody's been doing pretty well this year. The annual month-long invasion of the French Foreign Legion (Monique's sister Michelle and her four kids) was once again a lot of fun. This year our 15-year-old nephew Max came early, so we got to spend a couple of months with us, which was both fun and interesting, and gave us a chance to get to know Max much better. Among other things, he took driving lessons and learned to drive, repainted our rowboat, mowed the lawn many times, and generally had a chance to spend a lot of time with us.

And in short news items from the world of consumerism: We have a new couch in the living room, and new sliding glass doors to the porch ... I brewed a bit of beer last Winter that was delicious, but fell off the pace this year once things got hectic. I have ingredients again, though, so I'll probably brew up something new next week ... Monique and I had a nice post-Christmas trip down to the Florida Keys last year. Mostly we just camped out in the middle keys and enjoyed the sunshine. I think we'll do the same this year ... We bought a new Honda Civic Hybrid in August after the engine literally fell out of Monique's venerable Nissan Maxima after 15 years and 175,000 miles, thanks to engine mounts that had rusted all the way through. (Max insists that it's a mere coincidence that the car survived 15 years and then died after he drove it for two months.) We dubbed our new ride "Lenny the Leftymobile" after we slapped our Obama sticker on its bumper. So far it's averaged a fuel-sipping 41 mpg in mostly city driving. ... I have a comic/graphic novel recommendation for everybody, even if (or perhaps especially if) you're not at all interested in comics. It's a series of autobiogrpahical books called "And Then One Day" by a guy named Ryan Claytor. Nary a superhero in sight, just some really interesting thoughts about life and art. You can find them at Ryan's web site: The books are the collected Vols. 1-4, Vol. 5, and Vol. 6. Ryan just moved to Michigan, which is how I came across his work at our local comic-book shop.

Man, new beagle, new couch, new glass doors, new beers, vacation in the Keys, new car, new comics! It sure isn't our fault the economy's cratering. We seem to be spending as fast as we can.

And that's about it. Wow, that was a lot of typing. No wonder I was busy this year. And now I know why people just send out one Christmas letter and have done with their correspondance for the year.

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