Friday, December 11, 2009

A Very Camera Christmas

It turns out those shiny gold Nikon gear boxes make great fake presents under your Christmas tree after you've spent thousands of dollars on camera equipment and have no money left to buy actual gifts for anyone. These are a few of the many purchases I made this year to help get a leg up in my career as a photojournalist: A Nikon D700 Digital SLR Camera, a Nikon 14-24mm wide-angle lens and Nikon 70-200mm VR II zoom lens. Boxes for my 50mm and 85mm prime lenses are not shown, but they're just as shiny.

Passing Time At Pacific Rim

I met up with my friend Stefanie and a few other people for drinks the other night after an Ann Arbor Environmental Commission meeting. It was my first time patronizing Pacific Rim By Kana, a delightful Asian-themed bar and restaurant at 114 W. Liberty St. in downtown Ann Arbor. The shots you see below are of Stefanie tragically texting until her phone died, the martini she had to drink, and the Hitachino Nest White Ale that I did not try because I had already drank two pale ales before discovering this Japanese treat.

According to Pacific Rim's Web site, the business started out as Kana, a small, family-owned Korean restaurant that opened near the University of Michigan Hospital in 1982. After 12 years of success, Mr. and Mrs. Ko outgrew that location and in 1995 moved their restaurant to its current spot just off of Main Street in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor.

Monday, December 7, 2009

City Council Retreat

I bunkered down in a small conference room with the Ann Arbor City Council for eight hours on Saturday and listened to City Administrator Roger Fraser offer a grim financial outlook for the city, which must trim its budget by 30 percent over three years – starting immediately – to confront falling property tax revenues and declines in state revenue sharing in Michigan. The words "reduced" and "impact" projected onto the city administrator's head in this first photo are indicative of what's ahead. The guys in the middle photo are firefighters who watched on as Fraser talked about the need to immediately lay off 14 firefighters. The last photo says it all.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

That's A Lot Of Salt

Steve Puuri, managing director of the Washtenaw County Road Commission, stands in front a portion of the 20,000 tons of salt the agency will use to clear county roads of ice and snow this winter. Salt prices went up 40 percent and the agency is expecting to shell out $1 million for salt alone during this winter maintenance season.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Man In The Alley

Just about every weekend in downtown Ann Arbor, tucked away inside a graffiti-laden alley off Liberty Street, Brian Woolridge dances for hours on end to Michael Jackson tunes emanating from his boom box. A 1990 graduate of Huron High School, Woolridge has been mimicking the King of Pop's dance moves in the alley since 1995.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Welcome to

So I took a job working for as a digital journalist in late July. Our newsroom, where I primarily work from when I'm in the building, is located on the seventh floor at 301 E. Liberty St. in the heart of downtown Ann Arbor. But we recently opened our first-floor community room, shown here, which is a work space for our bloggers and anyone who wants to stop in and say hi.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Helen Thomas in Ann Arbor

Helen Thomas, a veteran White House reporter who has covered the administrations of 10 U.S. presidents since John F. Kennedy, shared tales of her nearly 60 years as a journalist tonight at the Michigan Theater in downtown Ann Arbor. Known for her sharp humor and candid views, she didn't shy away from her usual feisty ways.

"I think the real cause of our financial catastrophe is Republicans," she said at one point in the night, drawing applause.

"Everyone with a laptop these days thinks they're a journalist, and everyone with a cell phone thinks they're a photographer," she said at another point, drawing laughs (yes, I was on my laptop 10 feet from her and tweeting from my cell phone).

Monday, November 23, 2009

Vintage Italian Accordion

I came across this guy playing a vintage Italian accordion on a street corner in downtown Ann Arbor on Sunday afternoon after having brunch with friends. He said he got a good price at a second-hand shop. Unfortunately, the serial number was scratched off the instrument, so there's no easy way to know its exact age. He told me he has been playing for five months, but he sounded like a skilled veteran. He was following a fellow musician's advice and practicing in public to get over fears of playing in front of people.