July 27, 2016

As much as I like to complain ...

Starting a series of COMPLIMENTS instead of COMPLAINTS

Complaining doesn't do much good, except when it does. But today's piece is not a complaint. It's a compliment. And it's a well–deserved compliment to one of the original craft breweries in Michigan.

Mountain Town Station in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, has been hit or miss over the years. Sometimes we have had great service and a poor meal, or a great meal and poor service. Last night, MTS got it right. The service and meal were awesome.

Lori got the brisket sandwich, Courtney got the chicken alfredo, and I got the Olive Ya Want burger. Everything was top notch and the server was great. I thought the Iron Horse IPA was pretty tasty and the Steam Engine Stout — coffee stout was, eh — but overall the experience was fantastic.

We were there to celebrate Courtney and Tyler's engagement. We had some gifts and shared a good time. The staff was willing to allow us to take our time, relax, and enjoy the evening. Kudos to the awesome staff and chef at Mountain Town Station in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan.

July 21, 2016

The Tigers Are a Playoff Team

With Some Changes, the Tigers Are Playing in October 

This season's version of the Detroit Tigers Baseball Club is frustrating beyond comparison (unless you factor in 2008 and 2010, but I digress). I have questioned the manager for two years now and do think the team would be better with a change. The Washington Nationals became instantly better with the addition of a grizzled veteran baseball man in charge, Dusty Baker. The Tigers had that manager when they replaced Alan Trammell with Jim Leyland, but Leyland stuck around for only eight seasons — and, yeah, we complained about him all along.
This team is talented. This team should have swept the Minnesota Twins earlier this week but they barely competed and did not hit. The team's offense can be offensive. If Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez are going to slump at the same time, the team will virtually score no runs.

How does the season play out? The Tigers will make the playoffs, if:

  1. JD Martinez comes back as a force, solidifies the offense and plays decent defense in right field. Clearly, Steven Moya is not quite ready for primetime and Mike Aviles is not an outfielder. 
  2. The Tigers make a trade for a quality starting pitcher. Down the road, Daniel Norris will be a good end–of–the–rotation starter, but not yet. You can't rely on Anibal Sanchez and Shane Greene has proven his worth in the bullpen, alá Drew Smyly a couple years back. The Tigers have to make a trade for a quality arm, not an ace. 
  3. The bullpen becomes consistent. The bullpen is "hit or miss" on a daily basis. You never know what you're going to get. 
  4. Miguel Cabrera does not have to hit like a superstar but he has to perform like an all star, at least. His bat is so important and with the team's struggles, you realize just how much of an MVP he truly is on this Tigers team. 
  5. Any good writer has five things in any list, so my fifth point of reference is that the Tigers have to be consistent on offense. They cannot continue to believe they are the 1970s Baltimore Orioles and wait for the three–run home run. They have to — ahem — manufacture some runs. 
It's possible. We'll have to wait and see how it all plays out. 

July 20, 2016

I'm a fan of misused words and mispellings

"Every day" or "everyday" often misused

A simple street name causes conundrum 

I arrived at Vanderbilt Area School last year. With a marketing background, I felt it was important to place more focus on the Vanderbilt "yellow jacket" than the "V" that had been highlighted on the letterhead for several years. I redesigned a number of things, including letterhead and business cards, among other things. I even printed some labels to put on envelopes for "return addresses."


I used the address 947 Donovan St. That's the address that was on EVERYTHING. It's the address the state had on file for the District. It was everywhere.


One night I was leaving work and noticed the street sign: "Donavan." I almost panicked. How could everything be wrong. Why would the school do that? I didn't think too much about it, but decided I had to figure out where something became confused. I couldn't find anywhere that had the "Donavan" spelling. Even Google Maps and all the others had it the "Donovan" style.

Street Signs

Now, the obvious thing to do is to check other street signs, but that didn't cross my mind. Until recently. The correct spelling is "Donovan." Somehow, the street sign nearest the school is misspelled. I don't know if I should tell the village or just not worry about it. Since the school has been right on their spelling all these years, I'm relieved.

947 Donovan.

June 29, 2016

Scenes from Alexandria

 American History in Action 

'38 Packard. Some Detroit steel in Virginia. 


Red door front. 

The two green doors above are from the former Bank of Potomac Building which temporarily housed the Virginia governor during the embattled days of the Civil War. Alexandria has an incredible history. 

June 27, 2016

Monday Moaning Reminiscing

The St. Elmo's Fire Tour

I'm writing this sitting at the cafe in the Cherry Capital Airport …

… Okay, so that's no longer true. I'm in the Detroit Metro Airport.

All Aboard

All the sudden they made the call for boarding the plane in TC and we were off and running. The flight was quick, uneventful. Lori had drifted back asleep just after the pilot said we were cleared for landing in Detroit. When the plane hit the ground she woke with a start.

"Whoa," she said. "I just started dreaming." 

So now we're waiting for the plane to Dulles. We leave Detroit at 7:40 and get into Washintgton, D.C., at 9:11. I'm sure we'll grab some breakfast once we're situated and then, who knows what we'll do for the rest of the day.

The East Coast Swing

It's going to be an eventful week out east. There's always so much to do — that's why people end up visiting Washington, D.C. more than once. In 2011 when we visited, one of the highlights was finding a coffee shop every morning. We stumbled upon a Starbucks when we were staying in Dupont Circle. That's when we started thinking Pikes Place was not a bad coffee.

We also happened upon an impromptu tour in Georgetown when we invented the St. Elmo's Fire Tour. It was a great time!

Coffee, anyone? 

The White House. 

Mom and Dad in front of the White House. 

Stop one on the St. Elmo's Fire Tour. This bar was the facade of the movie. 

The interior of this bar was the Tombs in St. Elmo's Fire. 

June 26, 2016

The $200 Million Rapscallion

This Tigers Team is Abrupt 

The amazing thing about the 2016 incarnation of the Detroit Tigers is just simply how terribly they can play at any given moment.

Cut, take two.

The amazing thing about the 2016 incarnation of the Detroit Tigers is just simply how incredibly they can play at any given moment.

I wrote about this the other day.

I am writing about it again today.

Because it is the roller coaster effect.

Mr. Avila. 

Last August 4, the direction of the franchise changed. Dave Dombrowski was out as the president and general manager and his longtime assistant Al Avila was now in charge. It's reported the Avila had it in his contract that he would be paid like a GM and could not interview with other teams for their GM openings. Suddenly after an awkward trade deadline scenario where we dealt players to teams with records similar to ours after saying we would be buyers, the Tigers were a much worse team not worth watching with a GM … with a boy on the team. Not to mention a manager on the hot seat twisting in the wind.

I believe that Avila intended to fire Brad Ausmus but once one of his lieutenants leaked the information to the media, he had to backtrack and "keep" him. Into the next season, in fact. Ausmus has been out–managed many times and he has also over–managed many times. The Washington Nationals hired a similarly under–qualified manager around the same time the Tigers hired Ausmus when they brought in Matt Williams. Last off season, realizing the team was talented but way underperforming, the Nats fired Williams and brought in a true manager, Dusty Baker. The Nats might be the best team in baseball in 2016 — sorry Cubs.

The change at the top and the no–change in the middle manager seat has probably caused much more than confusion in Tiger town. The constant rotation of players from Toledo to Detroit and back to Toledo is getting old — Buck Farmer up and down 19 times in the last couple of seasons. Okay, maybe that's why the Tigers cannot develop players. The constant injuries have finally caught up to Anibal Sanchez; Sanchy as they call him looks like he's about done for and we only owe him around, oh, $32 million for the next couple of seasons. (Plus a buyout). Naturally, we questioned the signing of Mike Pelfry from the moment the ink hit the paper. He signed a two–year $16 million contract. Our old buddy Doug Fister (don't get a Tiger fan started on that deal with the Nats) signed a one–year deal with Houston for $7 million. The large contract for Justin Upton (basically the old Prince Fielder albatross of a contract) was lauded but with caution.

It's going to be a long season of ups and downs. This team looks amazing then amazingly terrible. And that's not to say that eventually Brad Ausums won't be a good manager — it just won't jell in Detroit.

June 25, 2016

Rick's Picks — Diners, Dives, and Drive–ins

Don's Drive–In & the $9.00 milkshake 

Sometimes when you live someplace you never take advantage of some of the cool local fare. Lori and I have tried to enjoy more of the northern Michigan living the last couple of summers. One place we like to go visit every summer is Don's Drive–In in Traverse City.

Don's makes the most incredible shake, a cherry/chocolate conglomerate that is second to none. I went ahead and bought a large the other day — not realizing the cost would be $9.00. It was somewhat worth it, though.

We both got a burger basket and the baskets were okay. Both Lori and I would say that our burgers were good and the huge fries were top notch. Don's is the kind of place that could be featured on Guy Fieri's show. The aforementioned shake could be the "unique" item because it is cherry–based and this is Traverse City.

I believe the burger is locally–sourced and often bought at the annual 4–H Fair in northwestern Michigan, which is a great touch. We've never been disappointed when visiting Don't Drive–In. The only caution is that it is a bit pricey (see reference to the milkshake; cherries must be expensive pre–season). The service is usually pretty good.

We were the first ones to arrive when we visited the other day, at about 10:45. Good lunch, good atmosphere. If you're visiting the TC area, we locals would encourage you to visit Don's Drive–In.