Archive for the 'smoking' Category

Dollar Store

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The abandoned house of the week…and what’s with all of the crazies in Detroit?

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If you’ve ever been to Michigan and thought everyone sounded angry…well, they are. Just take a look at some comments randomly picked from the websites of the Detroit News and Free Press. If this is what the state’s left with when the young and educated move away,  Michigan is screwed. It would be entertaining to read the bizarre, angry, and erratic rants if it didn’t seem like these were common sentiments among many who live there.

‘Why do the “smoking Nazi’s” out there want to ban cigarette’s you ask? Because of that dreaded fantasy called “2nd hand smoke”. What a bunch of boloney.’  - Maybe you meant ‘baloney’, as in ‘phony baloney‘? And of course that second hand smoke thing is definitely phony baloney…it’s not paranoia if they’re really after you…

‘The new carpeting, paint, the glues in your furniture and new car, all should be banned. MOUTHWASH can cause mouth cancer, are they banning THAT? Politicians that sell their votes or are just stupid, and cause economic depressions that lead to shortened life spans, are they banning THEM!? DEPLETED URANIUM weapons that turn to dust, that is being blown around the world, and back onto US, are they banning them?’ - Damn politicians leading to shortened life spans…

‘Don’t these Socialist Idiot’s in Lansing have bigger things to worry about? They better start taxing and putting bans on fast food. I get sick to my stomach when I see someone inhaling a Bigmac or Whopper in two bites. This same person is wheel chair bound, or riding a “free” scooter because their legs can not support their own weight.’ - Wow…

‘Look out everyone the DO-GOODERS are after us again. Reading some of these comments just makes me wonder if I still live in America. Who cares if someone else is smoking? The argument that it won’t hurt business is bunk! Trust if bars could make more money by becoming non-smoking, they would become non-smoking in a NY minute. This is all part of a plot by the social elitist to DO-GOOD/control the uneducated simpletons. If we would just let the overeducated, civilized elitist who knows best for us to make all the “ Common Good” rules for society imagine how lousy this state will be? Look, only an idiot smokes. But a free Nation is built via all of us putting with each other’s idiotic actions. What will be next to be banned via the DO-GOODERS? A fast food TAX, A big car tax, A tax on adult movies? Maybe then a mandatory re-educational camps for smokers and fat people, political correctness training? The mind boggles. We are in more danger from the DO-GOODERS in this nation then a 100-osama bin ladens. Even if you don’t smoke remember the saga of the old Jewish rabbi who did complain when the Nazi’s took away the gays, handicapped, communist, and other outcasts. When it was time to take the Jews, there was no one left to complain to.’ - Possibly a definition of simpleton? A smoking ban is worse than a terrorist attack?

‘Unbelievable, that Democrats still get elected in Michigan. Of course, when radical-1984Obama gets done tearing up the rest of the country, Michigan will be like everyone else. . . and unemployed socialist utopia where everyone drives 1954 Chevs like Cuba. Free food. Free heallth care. Free of that nasty rich neighbor. Free, and happy at last.’ - I don’t even know where to find a ‘54 Chevy, but I’d like one!

‘Obama = “The Audacity of Hope”
BSDoggy = “Hope is a Bad Strategy”
OBAMA HAS NO STRATEGY!!
Obama = “Change you can Believe in”
BSDoggy = Your change is just what I thought it would be - spend our way into indebted socialism, that way we will alwyas be working for the “state” to keep it from bankruptcy. Thanks Hussein.’
- Yeah, thanks Hussein…I alwyas be working for the state…

‘I HOPE THESE TWO FAT PIGS, GET SOME WEIGHT LOSS PLANS IN THE POKEY!!!’ - ???

‘As if . . . . ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, ha,’ - ???

‘Governor Scamholm,with all due respect, shut up. You have become, by the virtue of your lack of action over the past six years, totally irrelevant to the discussion.’ - Yeah…shut up…that’s good.

‘To the Governor. Please send this to the President it is for both of you

For the amount of 4 billion dollars I can solve several financial problems.

First there are about 400,000 tax paying employed workers in the U.S.

Number 1 give each person 1 million dollars tax free.

Each person must:

#1 quit his or her employment immediately, 400,000 new jobs Unemployment solved

#2 Each individual must purchase a new U.S. made vehicle Auto problems solved

#3 each individual mus purchase a home or pay off the mortgage on their existing home.
Home sales solved.

All of this for only 4 billion dollars. As large as this figure is, it is still a pittance of what has been given away to those who will never help the working person. If the Administration wants to help then give the money to us not AIG and the auto companies.’ - According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there were approximately 150 million workers in 2008. 150 million x $1 million = $150 trillion. Even using the screwed up numbers above, 400,000 x $1 million = $400 billion, not $4 billion.

Return to Detroit

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I made two separate trips to Metro Detroit recently, and was reminded of both why I miss the area, and why I hate it. First, we made the usual holiday family visit to Detroit, followed shortly after by a business trip to the area. During both trips we experienced the usual irritants such as only seeing the sun twice in a week, and driving on some of the worst roads on the planet.

The first trip back started with an evening of food and drinks with friends at the Royal Oak Brewery. Even though most of the restaurant is non-smoking, the entire place filled with smoke fairly quickly. By the time we left, we reeked of smoke, and my throat was scratchy. The next morning both my wife and I woke up with terrible headaches which developed in to full blown migraines. The next night, while laying incapacitated, and doped up on anti-nausea and migraine medication, I was already cursing my return to Detroit. In most major cities (at least the ones I like), you can enjoy dinner and a drink without smelling like an ashtray, but not in Detroit.

During our trip we constantly heard how Detroit’s automotive legacy was responsible for making this country what it is today, so therefore the (not so) Big 3 deserve loans. Guess what? Nobody cares. The Big 3 have had a broken business model for years, didn’t control their costs, gave away the automobile market to their foreign competitors, and failed to conceive of rising gas prices (how could gas get more expensive). The rest of the country doesn’t care much about the Big 3, because they’ve been aware of the industry’s problems for years. Why is Detroit still trying to avoid the inevitable?

We also heard how auto workers have hard jobs, and are hard workers. Unfortunately how hard your job is does not determine pay. Sorry, but, most of the time, it’s true. The market determines pay, and if you are easy to replace the market pays less. If you are difficult to replace, the market pays more. Simple enough. Workers for the Big 3 (both management and union) were often paid rates much higher than similar jobs in other industries. The wages had to fall to what both the companies can pay, and what the market will bear.

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On the second trip back, while doing a job at the North American International Auto Show, I experienced the, seemingly never ending, incompetence of Detroit. When we went to park at Cobo Hall, the ticket machine wasn’t working, so one worker would remove the ticket from the machine, and give it to the driver. The driver would advance two feet to the toll booth where another worker took that same ticket, and ten dollars. That seemed strange, but it got worse. When attempting to leave, the same worker that took the ticket and your money at the booth, asked for our ticket again. We had to explain to him how he took our ticket, and our money, when we entered. Eventually we convinced him that we’d already paid, and we headed home.

The final kick in the teeth came from a publisher of several prominent magazines in the area. I had provided photography for use in an issue of one of their magazines. After agreeing to an amount, and running the images in the magazine, the editor, after several weeks of back and forth emails and phone calls attempting to get my invoice paid, told me that the person who agreed to an amount for reuse of the images had no authority to negotiate, and therefore they would not be paying me. Thanks for nothing. I’ve been asked many times why I haven’t worked for this particular publisher in the past. Well, this is the reason.

I’m always torn, when thinking about whether or not I want to move back to Metro Detroit at some point. We still have our families, friends, and a house in the area, but going back is like beating your head against a wall. The big question is always, what will happen to the area. The problem is that, collectively, the question wasn’t asked until it was too late. If Detroit hopes to remake itself, it’s got to do better.

We left Detroit…

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Why? Because the whole Metro Detroit area is a black hole of despair and self-pity, and full of people who refuse to acknowledge, or can’t see, the basic problems (hint: Kwame is only a small part of the problem). The whole state has a lot of problems, including but not limited to, a city that leads the nation in crime, poverty, and stds, is in the top five for obesity, and for being sedentary, and trails the nation in high school graduation rates. Furthermore, Michigan is one of only two states to lose population in 2007, an exodus made up in large part by the highly educated and highly desirable 18-35 year old demographic. The Metro area has a dismal public transportation system. The state ranks 39th in terms of education level, is the worst for job hunting, has the nation’s highest unemployment rate, has an over dependence on one industry (that just happens to be on a steep decline), is last in the nation in entrepreneurial activity, and my own personal peeve, an inability to get a smoking ban in place. The list could go on and on.

I’m constantly told, “you’re just the kind of person we need here…” Of course, but so are most of the people who are leaving. That’s because anyone with an education, any ambition, and a desire to live in a healthy, livable community either has left, will leave, or wants to leave. Michigan’s going to end up with exactly what it wants, an unmotivated, dependent, overweight, undereducated, lazy, aging, and largely unhealthy population. I want no part of that.

I’m also told, Michigan, and Detroit in particular will “turn around.” Uh…when? I’m in my mid 30’s. How much time do you think I have? Detroit’s had many “renaissances,” and guess what, it’s just as bad off, if not worse than it was 20 years ago. The Renaissance Center opened in 1981, at just the start of the previously worst downturn in the state’s economic history. “Detroit’s not bad,” I’m constantly being told. Sure, start reading this from the top again, and then go drive south on Livernois from the northern end of Detroit, and then head back north on Schaeffer. Tell me Detroit’s not that bad. Maybe that tiny area near the stadiums and the Fox theater is not that bad, but Detroit’s a really big rotten donut.

Michigan’s still largely dependent on the auto industry. Even though we’ve known for more than 20 years that manufacturing was on the decline in this country, we continued to rely almost solely on one of the most precariously positions manufacturing companies in the world for our economic well being. We were content to sit around and take what we could while we could. Instead we should have been looking to the future. Anyone who thought that line workers making upwards of $100,000 a year, or laid off workers being paid 95% of their income or, being paid to “search for jobs, or be retrained,” was actually a sustainable way to run a business had their head in sand. If the Big 3 survive, they’ll be much different. The workers will be paid less, and there will be less workers. The worst for Michigan is probably still to be felt. The transition to whatever comes next is going to be painful for Michigan.

Detroit, and Michigan have some hard times ahead. So does the rest of the country, but Michigan’s been leading the pack on the way down, and never seems to lead on the way up. Michigan’s not investing much in the future, and instead continues to dwell on the past. It’d be easy to blame the state’s leadership, but of course, they’re elected by the populace.

It’s been easier to get offers for high paying, quality jobs out of the state than in it. According to Richard Florida, amongst others, the new economy jobs and workers have been and continue to migrate to the centers of the new economy. Just as workers migrated to Detroit to work on the assembly lines of the then burgeoning auto industry, workers are heading to cities, and regions, around the world that provide them with what they need, namely opportunities. Michigan and Detroit just don’t offer those opportunities, at least not in large enough numbers.

So we left. What else could we do? It’s not that we loved the area. The only thing keeping us in town was family, friends, and our work. Well, family and friends don’t pay the mortgage, put money in savings, or provide to many opportunities, and the work was slowing down dramatically. Seems everyone with a job was just hanging on for dear life, and the employers knew it. Low pay, long hours, and a miserable work life. It just isn’t worth it.

Smokers suck

Alright two posts in one day. Why? Because I’m pissed off!

One big difference between Metro Detroit and other areas I like better is the attitude of smokers. Here, it’s a God given right to blow your smoke in others faces. And when you’re done doing that, you can throw your cigarette butt on the ground. Apparently in Metro Detroit a cigarette butt is not garbage. Hey idiots, have you ever heard of an ash tray? They come in every car. No need to throw your butts out the window.

We went to Denver, one of our favorite cities, for vacation, and spent time walking around downtown. The whole day we only came across one smoker. As she walked by she finished up her cigarette. Instead of the usual Detroiter action of throwing the butt on the ground, she bent over (a series of joints that collectively make up the waist that allows this function in advanced human beings) and put her cigarette out on the pavement. Then she stood up straight again, and put the cigarette in the garbage ( which by the way wasn’t overflowing into the street like the ones in Royal Oak usually are)! It was like the clouds broke, heavenly music began playing, and sun beams shown down on us. I couldn’t believe that a smoker could actually act civilized! I’d rarely seen such behavior, and certainly never in Detroit. Next time you stop at a light on Woodward (or any street for that matter), take a look down at the street. Does it look like sh*t? Probably. Do you see thousands of cigarette butts? Probably.

Why don’t people like it here? Yeah, that’s real hard to figure out. Robert Merton wrote about the Self-Fulfilling Prophecy once. Metro Detroiters, by making the area they live in so crappy that no one wants to be here (other than themselves), are creating there own self-fulfilling prophecy where no one wants to live here, and they’ll be able to blame it all on those who have left, while they sit and stew in their burned out shell of a city.

The other night I went for a run. As I ran near Beaumont Hospital, I ran through three clouds of smoke from hospital employees who had to leave the premises to smoke. While I applaud Beaumont’s smoke free policy, I can’t imagine Beaumont putting up with other addictions that interfere with worker productivity. Imagine a sex addict having to take four breaks a day to go have sex for half an hour at a time. The argument that it’s “my right” is complete B.S. There are plenty of things that are your right to do, as long as they don’t interfere with your job, don’t take place during work hours, don’t harm the health of others, and don’t make the employer look bad. Smoking in the surrounding neighborhood does all of these things. If Beaumont’s smokers can’t keep their smoking to before and after work, they should be fired. There are plenty of non-smoking workers who can get more work done in a day, have lower health costs, and need the work just as badly. Hire them. If a smoker wants their job badly, they’ll quit smoking, which Beaumont should be happy to help fund, or they’ll use a nicotine patch during the day, or they’ll manage to make it through a full work day without indulging they’re addiction.

Metro Detroit bars and restaurants are fighting a smoking ban that is already in affect in places such as California, New York, Ireland, and Italy. New York and California, at least, have reported that business is up. As a former smoking relative from California told me, “it allowed non-smokers to actually go to the bar, and enjoy it, and it didn’t stop smokers like myself from going.” Get in the game Detroit. Don’t be an ass backward, backwater, down and out, stick in the mud, ignorant outpost. Please…