First Day in Michigan

I went to bed at about 7pm the day my father brought me to his place, and woke up the following morning at about 1am. I figured this was close enough to my target of biological clock regrooving for one day, got up, did some Web work (on these pages), and then headed out for a walk as the sun was rising.

I should say that my original intent was to go running, as I had been taking morning trots down the Dongfong in Taipei. But it was so bitter cold...and realized that I had forgotten the bitter cold of Michigan winter mornings.

There was a beautiful golden-orange tinge on this stratocumulous cloudbank, stretching overhead from horizon to horizon, and I had to scramble to change plans (from a run to a walk), run inside, change to walking attire, grab my camera, and run back outside. By the time I got back outside, the rosy glow was off the clouds, but I was still able to catch this nice pic.

There were lots of little things it was nice to see again: Frost on the grass, your breath in the air, a fat squirrel. There was something...hopeful...about seeing a fat squirrel with a nut it its mouth in December in Michigan. If that squirrel can make it, dammit, so can I.

I headed in a general direction across Inkster, into Redford Township, and toward a part of the township that I was somewhat familiar with. I got shots of these two parks, which I found noteworthy in that you don't see this much open public land in Taiwan; which only makes sense (sort of). The first park (seen on the left) has the usual large public lawn space (with baseball diamond), with adjacent creek and "wild" forested land. This second is a shot from the southern extremity of a strip park that flanks a river snaking up between 6- and 7-mile roads. Maybe I'll go back there this morning.

Back in Taiwan, I talked about land use in the U.S.A. with Tiffany (a teacher at Joy School). I mentioned suburban sprawl, and the development model of huge tracts of land with arrays of family housing. Actually, I saw a nice example of this from the plane, and could kick myself that I didn't get a picture of this to illustrate to the folks back home, but perhaps these next few pictures will get the idea across.

I dreamt I walk'd again down wide, clean concrete street between neat little rows of neat little houses, and...wait a minute...that was no dream!

It's been a while since I've seen this, and it was a little bit of a shock. Of course, this passes no value judgements on the Taiwanese; their configuration is a little different, but no less valid a way of managing the perennial shelter questions; "How then shall we live?" and, "Maybe if the curtains in the kitchen were yellow...?"

Well, how sweet! A good old, robust milkweed plant! Of course, what we see here is the poor thing in the throes of its death struggle determination to disperse seeds of the next generation before winter finally overtook it.

I've also, in a short span of time, seen many, many, many VFW (Veteran of Foreign Wars) halls. Yesterday, father took me into one (not the one in this picture), as he researched options for celebrating Christmas with other vets this year.

When I got back home, dad took me out to Alexander's, a popular eatery. A fascinating thing, during my so-far-brief sojourn here, has been getting back in touch with the fact that Americans are a...uh...hefty lot. In this diner, the ol' feed bag was strapped on, and the heifers were a-munchin' away in this made-for-exposé-TV verification of the myth that awes the rest of the planet; a fabled place where overeating is an endemic health problem. It reminds me of a French Cartoon by Sergio Salma; Nathalie!. In this one episode, Nathalie is fantasizing on what life would have been like for her and her family if they had been born elsewhere on the planet (besides France). Each locale gets a haiku-like treatment of the lifestyle implications, but when it comes to the U.S.A., the form devolves even further to this one-liner: "In the United States, we'd be fat." How true that might well Michigan, anyway...

I mentioned that my dad took me into a couple of VFW halls, and I saw this backlit kitch Betty Boop bar-top figurine in one of them. The manager was kind enough to light it up for this photo. On our way out, my father explained to this fellow that I had taken pictures of Taiwan, and was now documenting my stay in the U.S.A. for the benefit of associates back there. He said, "there are so many cultural differences." Yes, but Betty is a notable exception that disproves the rule. She is so enormously popular in Taiwan that this picture might well have been taken there. This was the second Boop my father and I had seen that day! If you're out and about, you'll see at least that many Boops each day in Taiwan. As the great Criswell himself might well have put it,...

"I predict...

that Taiwan under the DPP will finally claim her rightful independence, Mainland China will falter in her resolve to invade, and the first U.S. Ambassador to Taiwan appointed by the Bush Administration will be...Betty Boop!"