Lansing snow plows

In the 18 years that I have worked in Lansing, I have seen a lot of different things.   I have seen people out side of the Capital daily protesting the fact that the dome is no longer lit at night.  I have seen hundreds of motorcycle riders protesting the helmet law.  I have seen KKK rallies.  But, in all of the years that I have worked here, I have never seen a Lansing snow plow.  In fact, it has been my belief that Lansing does not own a snow plow.

That fact that I have never seen a Lansing snow plow is reinforced by the fact that I have never seen the streets of Lansing plowed.  Every time that it snows, both cars and people wade through the snow in the streets until it eventually melts.   In fact, I think city feels that it will all melt come spring so why bother plowing it?

Now, the residence of Lansing claims that Lansing does plow its streets.  However, they are also the ones who complain that the street that they live on hasn’t been plowed.  Go figure.

I think that part of the confusion lies in the fact that there are about a dozen state highways running through the Lansing area.  The state highways, of course, are maintained by the state and not the city.  So, if you drive through snow long enough, you will eventually reach a state highway which provides the main arteries for travel in the city.

If you take a state map and look at the city of Lansing you will notice that some of the roads are gray while others are in color.  The roads that are gray are city streets.  The reason that they are gray is because they still have snow on them.  The roads that are in color are the roads that have been plowed. They are the ones you want to get to if you are presently on a gray road.

Now, having said all of that, I did see a Lansing snowplow this morning.  At least, it sort of looked like a snow plow.  It was a pickup truck with a blade on the front and a salt shaker on the back.  It was certainly not anything heavy duty.  It looked more like something used for plowing a parking lot and not a city street.  Even Lowell has big heavy duty dump trucks with blades underneath, which it uses to plow its streets.  But, so far, I have never seen anything like that in Lansing.

Of course, the Lansing snow plow pickup truck wasn’t actually plowing snow.  It was parked in front of a donut shop.  And I pay city taxes for……?

The Disco Dungeon

When we first moved to Lowell, there used to be a Dog and Suds just down the road from us. A Dog and Suds was a drive-in chain where you could enjoy a hot dog and a root beer in the comforts of your own automobile parked underneath a metal canopy.

But, since no one really wanted to sit in the comforts of their automobile in the winter time, the drive in soon gave way to a sit in diner. The Dog and Suds was tripled in size and renamed “The Disco Dungeon”.

Now, the Disco Dungeon did not have any thing to do with Disco. The closest it came to any thing Disco was the large picture of John Trivolta painted on the wall. But since it opened a year or so after Saturday Night Fever, The Disco Dungeon was as good a name as any.

The food at the Disco Dungeon wasn’t bad and was more of a family orientated establishment with all of their meals coming in the form of a basket. Unfortunately, the Disco Dungeon closed after a couple of years.

While the owner of the Disco Dungeon was collecting FICA from the pay of his staff, he neglected to send it to the Feds. The Feds took a dim view of this practice and he had to leave town rather quickly. He moved out of state, became a minister and then fled to Canada but that is another story.

Next, the Dog and Suds became a meat market/deli. Since this business did not need seating space, the opening to the addition was bricked up and turned into a quarter car wash.

The meat market/deli was a nice change for Lowell. After all, at the time, the only other place to buy meat in Lowell was at Eberhards which was rather poor. So, the meat market/deli was a hit and business was good. But the guy that ran it got tired of the long hours and closed the place up.

The Dog and Suds next became a pizza place. You could order your pizza and wash your car while you waited. But, the property owner had a dispute over the rent so the pizza place relocated into cheaper digs.

Currently, the Dog and Suds is a cell phone store. And while it is the only one in town, GR is only 10 minutes away so I wonder how long it will last. Maybe the next business will be a tanning salon and car wash. Who knows.

The cleaning crew

When I first started working for the state, custodial services were contracted out to a vocational rehab business. This business specialized in training mentally impaired people for custodial work. And so, it was not uncommon to have a mentally impaired person emptying the trash or sweeping the floors. But, as time went on, apparently there was a shortage of mentally impaired people so the program moved towards habitual criminals.

Now, these people were not really all that bad, it was just that they had criminal records and therefore suspect to most employers. So, you never knew what the person ,who emptied your trash, had done time for. Hopefully, it was for drugs or prostitution and not something violent. But even this program approach had limits and began moving towards immigrants.

Some of the immigrants are easy to spot because they don’t speak English. But, I suppose that a speech problem could also be the result of mental impairment. Anyway, I have to wonder if that pretty young woman who empties my trash is impaired, a criminal, an immigrant or all of the above. I suppose it would be rude to ask.

Drive throughs

In some areas of GR, we have drive by shootings. Apparently, rival drug gangs can’t get along. To counteract that, some people have started drive through payings.

The idea is that when you are in the drive through lane at a fast food place, you pay for the person behind you as well as your self. In short, you pay for the food of a total stranger, in the name of Christ. It creates a chain reaction. You pay for the food of the person behind you and they, overwhelmed, pay for the person behind them. In a time when there is so much hatred and injustice, this simple act states that yes, there is still human compassion even for a total stranger.

Apple Jelly

I ran across a recipe for roast pork that sounded very good. You start out with about a 6 pound pork shoulder called a Boston butt. At about $2 a pound, it is considered to be a poorer cut of meat. However, after it has been roasted for about 7 hours, the meat becomes very tender.

After the meat is through roasting, it is allowed to cool. Once it is cooled, it can be easily sliced without falling apart. The sliced pork is then rewarmed and covered with a sauce made from apple jelly, apple cider and apple vinegar.

While I had the apple cider vinegar, I knew that I would have to get the apple cider and the apple jelly. And I figured that it would be relatively simple to get the two items that I needed from the store. So, when I got to the store I grabbed a cart and started out.

I always grab a cart when I go to the store even if I only have a couple of items to purchase. Shopping carts not only serve as a means of transporting food during the shopping event, they also serve as a means of self defense.

If you don’t have a cart and step out blindly from a side isle, you could get hit with a cart. But, if your cart emerges from that blind isle first, it is the cart that gets hit and not you. Or, you could compare the cart to the bright orange flags that dune buggies fly high above them warning others of their presence.

I digress. Apple cider and apple jelly. That is what I need. The cider is quickly located in the produce section right next to the pomegranate juice. Check. Next is apple jelly. So its off to the condiment isle.

I stroll past olives, and pickles and catsup and mustard as I make my way to the jellies. Ah there they are, the jellies. This should be simple. I quickly scan the shelves looking for apple. Yes! Apple! No wait, its apricot. Rats! Where is the apple?

As I search the shelves, I can’t help but notice the abundance of grape jelly. I wonder if grape jelly is that popular or if there is just an abundance of grapes. Number two appears to be raspberry. Certainly apple must be high on the popularity list.

Boysenberry, Currant, Goose berry. Goose Berry! I haven’t seen a Goose Berry since I was a kid. Mango, Mint, Pineapple. Do you think that the people in Hawaii spread pineapple jelly on their toast in the morning? Ah! There it is. Apple jelly! But it is the store brand and limited at that.

I would have thought that apple jelly would be more common but I guess not. I load my jelly into my shield and head for the check out. Mission accomplished!

Latest and greatest

Well, I’ve upgraded to the latest and greatest version of Word Press. It was relatively painless thanks to my web host Blue Host. All I had to do was click on the upgrade button and in less than 5 seconds it was done. I don’t really know what improvements I will see, or for that matter, what changes have occured. I will just have to work with the program and find out first hand.


CPS is Child Protective Service. There is an 800 number that you can dial to report child abuse. Actually, you can use it to report any abuse but it is designated mainly for children. This number can be called 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But the busiest day for this number is Super Bowl Sunday.

Spell checker part deux

It appears that the spell checker has started working again though I don’t know why. Also, in the past, all comment had to be approved by me before they were posted. A few days ago, the comments started posting by themselves. Today, the comments once again need to be approved before they are posted. There must be something going on with the program. I suspect that the Word Press folks are testing changes in the program.

I just upgraded to the latest version of Word Press about 2 weeks ago.  Last week, they came out with another upgrade in an effort to fix the problems in the first upgrade.  I was about to upgrade to the newest version, as it had a lot of security fixes.  But just yesterday, they came out with another even newer version.  So as it stands right now, I have the new version of Word Press but not the newer or the newest.

High rent district

“Location, location, location”. That is what I think whenever a new business comes to town. The same thing goes for housing. A classic case is the condo developer who wants to turn an 19th century 3 story building into condos. But not just any condos, expensive condos!

These condos are selling for a minimum of $200,000.00. Definitely a premium price for the Lowell area. But what is more interesting is the location. These condos are locate on main street in the historic district along the side of two rivers. Unfortunately, you can’t see much of the rivers if any from the condos. You see, the building is right next to a flour mill with very high silos.

If you look out the back of the building, all you can see is the flour mill. If you look out the front of the building from the top floor, you may see some of the river but not much as there are other buildings which block the view. In fact, I can see more of the river from my house than can be seen from the condos.

Oh did I mention that there is no parking? Well, I shouldn’t say that there isn’t any parking. Rather, I should say that you park behind the building in the alley. Of course, if you buy a big enough condo, you might get a car port. If not, then you will have to scrape your car on those cold, wintry mornings.

So, why does the developer figure that this is premium living space? Perhaps he figures that he will have a niche market since everyone else in the area is turning similar space into low rent apartments. Or perhaps he figures that the mill workers are going to retire soon and may want to stay close to the world that they have known for the past 40 years.

Personally, I think that the developer has confused Lowell, MI with Lowell MA. Certainty similar condos in Lowell, MA could easily sell for the asking price of the Lowell, MI condos but this isn’t Lowell, MA, this is Lowell, MI. The condos have been on the market for about 4 years now and not one has sold. Where’s that business plan when you need it?

Snow removal

The walkway outside of my building has a surface of bricks and concrete and little garden plots of grass. The bricks are not cemented into anything. Rather, they rest on their own little bed of concrete which is low enough to provide a level walking surface.

When the first snow of winter arrives, the walkway is not yet cold and so the snow melts immediately. The water from this melting snow runs between the cracks in the bricks and settles into the lowest spots of the concrete brick bed. Later, when the weather gets really cold, this water freezes and forces the bricks above it to rise slightly.

Now, the state has three methods for snow removal; chemical, snow blower and snow plow. These methods are used by themselves or in various combinations, depending on the snow depth.

If it is a light snow, they will probably just use snow melting pellets scattered across the walk way. Of course, the snow melting pellets coat the bottoms of shoes and boots and gets tracked into the building which makes a mess.

If it is a heavy snow, the snow plows will come through and plow the main walkways. The snow blowers will then come through and do clean up in the places that the plow can’t reach. Finally, they will cover everything with snow melting pellets.

Now, this is where it gets interesting. The snow plow is expecting the plowing surface to be level, but it’s not. Those little bricks with the frozen water under them have risen slightly. And when the plow hits them, they pop up out of their concrete beds. This, in turn, creates a walking hazard. Not only do you have to worry about stepping in the holes where the bricks used to reside, you also have to worry about stepping on the bricks.

When spring rolls around, the maintenance crew works on replacing and leveling the bricks, while the lawn crew replaces all of the grass that got burned up from the snow melting pellets. And come winter, the process starts all over again.