Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Blog Reminder

Hey everyone, just in case you missed it last time and are wondering why i haven't posted in forever, I moved my blog.

I am almost done posting my top 25 albums of the decade, one day at a time, so hop on over and check it out before it's too late!


Friday, November 13, 2009

did it

and I made the switch.

Here it is...


I'll be tweaking it, and hopefully updating it more.


I'm thinking of switching this blog over to wordpress. Aesthetically, there is really no comparison... and I've heard they have a great iphone/ipod app. Really, the only thing holding me back is the fact that blogger is linked up to my google account. I don't know that's worth sticking around for. I'll let you know if anything changes.


I've never been a fan of the first couple weeks of November. It feels like limbo. Normally it's not yet winter, but not really fall either. And to top it off, that dreadful time change. There's something about darkness creeping in at 4:30pm that is off putting.


These last couple weeks have been some of the most perfect fall weather I've seen in a long time. Only now does the frost appear for a few hours each morning. And it gives way to the sun by the time I've finished my coffee. Some of the trees are bare, but most of them retain some brilliant reds and oranges. It's been cold enough to build fires, but not so frigid that I'm wearing thermals. Yet.

There are other things going on in my life besides weather. But I just wanted to take a moment and document how beautiful things can be every now and again.

Monday, October 12, 2009


Time has a way of slipping by. If you blink long enough you'll never see anything ever again. I did a little blinking and all of a sudden it's mid October. Exactly one year after the day I said my goodbyes. The time inbetween my return from Bulgaria now doubles my time spent
there, but I feel like only half as much has happened, even though I'm twice as busy.

I'm begining to feel restless but for what? The idea of staying in the same place and doing the same thing for too long makes me uneasy but I don't know where else I would go; I don't know what else I would do.

I need to set some goals.

For the first time I took the Meyers-Briggs personality test. And I freaks me out how well I can be summed up after answering a list of true or false statements. I'm an ENTP. Exrtovertion. Intuition. Thinking. Perceptive. A rationalist-inventor type. Who knew?

I like looking at information from a global viewpoint, spotting patterns and relationships, focusing on possibilities, bouncing new ideas off people, challenging the status quo, applying logical anaylsis and seeing the underlying priciples in situations.

This has made me realize what kind of career I really want. I want to go into public policy and urban/regional planning. I have to. the test told me so. This of course means grad school.

I guess I have a goal.
I get the feeling that was the easy part.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


I'm trying out blogging from my iPod. This is only a test.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Аз обичам домати

In general, I'm not a huge fan of August. It's hot, it's sticky, congress is in recess. But one thing I absolutely love about this month is the plethora of tomatoes. The rest of the year it's hard to find decent ones that aren't mealy and tasteless. This year, in between the food co-op, the farmers markets and our own plant I have been overloaded with great tomatoes. Here a few of the things I've done with them.

Rosemary Flatbread with goat cheese

Bruchetta Salad with locally made mozzarella, fresh toasted bread crumbs,
and a balsamic reduction sauce.

White sauce pizza with arugula

Enjoy them while you can, soon enough it will be butternut squash season.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Transport is arranged

Today Liz told me that mornings make her miss Bulgaria. She said she misses seeing goats, old women in the gardens, and small shops long her walk to work. I completely get what she is saying. Waking up to the decor of new cars, vinyl siding and parking lots doesn't give me the same gumption.

I've been trying to narrow down what it is about other places and cultures that makes them seem so much more charming or interesting or whatever you want to call it. And the biggest factor I can see is space. We have a problem with space in America, we have too much of it. We spread out big houses over vast amounts of land, our cities cover more ground than others, but hold fewer people.

This space issue has lead to, and in some ways is caused by what has been called our Car Culture. Walking, biking, or taking public transportation is, in many other places, the norm. Here, it is the exception. And so, if everyone is driving everywhere, why not spread out? And when everthing is spread out, why on earth would you walk anywhere? Just drive.

One thing I loved about Bulgarian cities, towns, and even villages is that they almost always have a town "center" that was blocked off to cars, and was full of businesses. People would go there to do their shopping, eating, banking, and other business, all on foot. It was so much more communal. You got to see everyone else who lived in your town, because everyone else was there too. There's something so isolationist about drive thru services, or even private parking lots.

This is one reason I enjoy living in Ypsialnti. I can take a bus or bike to work, I can walk to a food co-op for groceries, great coffee shops, bars, and restaurants, and also my friends' houses. The only time I drive is when I leave town or have to do laundry.

It's still not like waking up to goat herds and mountains, but it's about as good as it can get right now.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Gap

So a new report out of University of California shows that in 2007, economic inequality in the United States hit and all time high.

As of 2007, the top decile of American earners, Saez writes, pulled in 49.7 percent of total wages, a level that’s “higher than any other year since 1917 and even surpasses 1928, the peak of stock market bubble in the ‘roaring” 1920s.‘”

Beginning in the economic expansion of the early 1990s, Saez argues, the economy began to favor the top tiers American earners, but much of the country missed was left behind. “The top 1 percent incomes captured half of the overall economic growth over the period 1993-2007,” Saes writes.

I'm not surprised. I knew that the CEO to employee pay gap had shot up from about 40-1 in the 1970's to near 600-1 in the last few years. But to know that such a small portion of people own half of the countries money makes me a little sick inside. A recent paper by Will Wilkinson made the case that inequality really doesn't matter, and his arguments have more holes than a tennis net. The New Republic did a good job of calling him out.

Here's pretty good visual of what we're talking about

I'm not a Marxist, I don't believe you can ever have a classless society, but I also think there can be a balance, and that capitalism can be run a lot more responsibly than this.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


A couple weeks ago Liz finally had an entire weekend off so we went out of town and stayed at a Bed and Breakfast in Marshall, Mi (which is apparently antique shop capital of the world. Seriously, like half the stores in the town.) The reason for picking Marshall is our all time favorite brewery, Dark Horse. They have some of our favorite beers including five stouts, two porters, a black bier and some great IPA's.

Not only do they have great beer, but amazing pizza too.
As usual, we took home a growler.

The following day we stopped in Spring Arbor to see off Seth before he left for Germany. We had some smoked salmon his dad made and devoured a few growlers in the sun.

This is Seth's "I can't wait to get out of Spring Arbor" face.

He also busted out a really great port circa 1927. It was rich and creamy and tasted like really luscious raisins. When it comes to dessert wines I think I prefer late harvest Sauvignon Blancs and Sauterns, but this made me want to have port a little more often.

Then his parents made us a great early dinner of grilled lamb kabobs, ratatouille, lentils, and brown rice. To me, lamb is so much tastier than beef. It was a great spread.

Back at home, the most interesting thing I've cooked recently was some creamed Shitake and Portabella mushrooms with asparagus over farfalle. It was really earthy and delicious. We also had a bottle of Michigan Merlot from Lone Oak. I had this once before and was pretty impressed, but this time around I found it a little more mediocre. It has a big, fruity nose and strong notes of dark cherry. Still decent, especially for grapes grown in southern Michigan, but still leaving a little to be desired, although it may have just been overpowering the creamy pasta. It did open up well after a while and was good to drink after dinner.

I suppose that's all for now.
Goodbye kittens.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


My friend over in Bulgaria posted this and I found it really interesting. It's the results for the 2008 Biennial Peace Corps Volunteer Survey. Specifically it's the responses to the question "How personally rewarding is your overall Peace Corps service?"

There are 67 countries with PC volunteers, Bulgaria ranked #61. Almost as many people said their experience was minimally rewarding (10%) as did those who said exceptionally rewarding (13%). The rest were somewhere in the middle. I'm not going to say this is surprising. What did surprise me was the ranking of our original first choice, Jordan. That was even lower at #64.

These kinds of polls have their flaws, and I'm really not sure how I would have answered. It probably would have depended on just how bad my students were that day. But I still think it says something. We were not the only ones to end up leaving. In fact now, over a quarter of our original group is gone, and there's still another year to go.

Good luck kids.

Monday, August 3, 2009

All this self-awareness is making me woozy

Descartes might disagree with me here, but it seems to me the only real way to prove you exist is to Google yourself.

I've been musing a bit about the nature of this. It all seems a little too repetitive. A little too egocentric. A little too silly. I like to pretend that this journal's purpose is to share myself and my thoughts with the rest of the world, but really? It's just for me. Honestly, I probably don't care what you made for dinner last night, so why should I expect anything different from you? (Just how self absorbed can this get? Here I am, blogging about the nature of my own blog.)

But without so-called-social-media one starts to disappear. It starts with being left out of parties that everyone else was invited to on facebook, it continues with never being talked to because you don't have a phone, and it ends with being left out of history because you left no digital record. It seems that the more photos and tweets there are out there, the smaller the Orwellian memory hole becomes, but the easier it is to fall into. All you have to do is stay offline.

I guess the whole reason for updating the world on my dinners and weekends is that I lack a sense of purpose. I started blogging while in Bulgaira, volunteering for the Peace Corps. I felt that was worth writing about. Maybe that's why I still make vague reference to it so often. I'm trying to reconnect with a time worth blogging about. (This is the new standard for meaning, "Is it worth blogging about?")

My head is filled with these thoughts in part because my good friend Seth is leaving for Germany today for another year. He started a new blog. There's something about the challenges of living overseas that just seem worth reading and writing about. It makes you grow.

But alas, I cannot allow myself to slip down the memory hole, I have to prove I exist somehow.

Still, Google ergo sum just doesn't have the same ring to it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Хайде на уикенд!

Summer weekends in Ypsi have been so great, it makes my Mondays-Thursdays drag a bit, but we won't focus on those days.

Seth leaves for Germany for another year in less than a week, so he (and his parents new puppy Kirby) came out one last time. Not only was I able to beat him in chess for the first time ever, but we also made a great dinner. We ran to the farmers market and food co-op, stopped by the Shadow Art Fair at the Corner Brewery and then started cooking.

I put together a fresh mushroom and Gruyere tart. It was rich and creamy with peppers and thyme. Seth manned the brussel sprouts and garlic scapes. I had never had scapes before, and I have to say I was thoroughly impressed. Too bad they only come out for a few weeks a year.

Luckily I was able to come across a solid bottle of Bordeaux to go along with dinner. I was really surprised to find this for under $15. 2005 has a reputation for being the best recent year for Bordeaux and for good reason. This mostly Merlot blend from Chateau Bertinerie was a well balanced, medium bodied red that went very well with food. For a while I was getting into big, fruit forward reds from California that smacked you in the face with tannins, but more and more I am enjoying old world, particularly French wines that are more earthy, subtle, and meant to be drank with a meal. This one met the criteria nicely.

This past weekend was the Michigan Brewer's Guild Beerfest at Riverside Park, which is about a block and a half from our house and where I walk my dog every day. Myself, Dan, Allison, and Quillen were able to volunteer at it for a few hours in exchange for free admission and beer. Quite a good deal.

Here we are, gearing up to give 5,000 people their cups and drink tokens. (Yes, they gave us beer before and during our shift.)

There were about 50 breweries from around the state, and a record number of people came.

I had a great time. And it's surreal to me that something this awesome happens less than a quarter mile from where I live. Here's hoping that the coming weekends are just as fun.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


More and more I am feeling productive, comfortable, and confident in my new job. It's finally getting to a point where I have enough to do to keep myself busy, and I have learned enough about how the homeless systems in Ann Arbor/Ypsi work that I am beginning to grasp what this all looks like.

I guess that was a really wordy way of saying, I like my job and I am coming into my own here. I don't know if social work is what I want to do for the rest of my life, but it's pretty ok for right now. And for Michigan in 2009, having a job, let alone one you don't hate, is a pretty good feeling.

That's not to say that there are not challenges. I'm already having a hard time not getting too attached and invested in a few clients. It's difficult to learn that sometimes, no matter how much you want to help someone, there are no options. And it's even harder to learn that sometimes even if you are able help someone, they will do something to throw their progress back.

There are times that I would love to blog more about my work, because I think a lot of what happens is really interesting. But I don't really think it's appropriate to write about people and clients I work with on a public space.

As much as I miss Bulgaria, I'm so glad I'm not teaching anymore.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Last night I went to go see Javelins at The Elbow Room in Ypsi. I had not seen them since January of '07 and I have to say, they kicked so much ass. I had always kinda liked them, but I am now a full fledged fan(alliteration.) Julian's bass playing really surprised me and Matt R is one of the few people I know who can pull off the drummer/singer combo.

I have to make a seperate paragraph about Matt H.'s guitar playing. Seriously. That dude. He is like a melding of my two favorite guitar players of all time into one person. He takes the poppy inctricate melodies of Johnny Marr (Smiths) and combines it with this HUGE and lucious sound that reminds me a lot of Kevin Shields (My Bloody Valentine). He has to be my favorite guitar player on the local/regional level, and he competes for my favorite current axe man out there.

Check them out, it will be worth it.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Next week something amazing will happen.

Long ago, in a time known as The Nineties there was a show. This show played on a music television station called MusicTeleVision. This show was awesome. And on Tuesday it will finally be released to DVD.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you.

The state starred so many great actors and writers that I'm not going to bother going through the whole list. But they went on to make Wet Hot American Summer, Stella, The Ten, Reno 911, and the new Michael and Michael Have Issues.

This is easily my favorite comedy show, even topping Curb Your Enthusiasm, Arrested Development, and What's Happenin' I have never actually bought an entire television series on DVD before, but I just might start.

Goodbye Mailbox.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


Right now I'm coming down from a metaphorical high that lasted three solid days. Some friends came from out of town for the 4th of July and we had a kick ass time. For more on the weekend, check out the wife's new blog here.

On Saturday night, at about nine Seth and I decided that some cooking was in order. Liz's uncle had recently caught some fish for us on Lake Michigan, and so we made mahi mahi served on risotto with asparagus and topped with a burre blanc.

With it we drank a California Pinot Nior. It was bright and fruit forward with a big aroma of strawberries and raspberries. It was an interesting break for the Pinots I've been having, which have become more often then not, red Bourgogne. In general I find them more subtle and better to have with food.

Speaking of Bourgogne, back during memorial day weekend Seth brough over a great bottle and I made a balsamic roasted tofu-veggie stack complete with (bottom up) red bell pepper, eggplant, marinated tofu, baby bella mushrooms, zuchinni, and swiss chard.

This summer has been treating me very well. It's been incredible having so many friends near by, and ones from out of town that are willing to meet up. It's a huge contrast from last summer when Liz and I were alone in a town of people we could barely communicate with, and had to travel an average of six hours to see newly made friends. When I first came back home I was stunned at just how easy it was to maintain relationships here, and on some level I felt that ease made it less meaningful. But as time goes by I must say I get so much out of my friends here, even if I only have to walk two minutes to see them.

I have been meeting more and more people in Ypsilanti and I have to say, I am falling more in love with this town the longer I stay here. It's the only place I know of that has lots of cool stuff to do and is still affordable to live downtown in. For all the naysayers who think Michigan has nothing to offer, give Ypsi a try.

I've also come back from my reading hiatus and recently finished Under the Banner of Heaven and started Lolita yesterday. I think reading is like exercising. Your brain feels better when it's in shape, it just takes a bit of effort sometimes.

Tonight we are heading to Jackson for dinner with my family and Seth. Mom, Dad, and Aaron just got back from Germany, and Seth is about to go back. I think we are having creamed spinach salmon and probably some Riesling. I just hope I don't get too jealous when they are talking about Mallorca and Frieburg.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

no hmo

Even though I'm a pretty political person I do my best to keep this blog about other things. I mean really, if you want to read about politics on the internet you surely don't need to come here to do it. But I just can't let this rest.

Health care in this Country is abominable. It is unfair, unjust, and dehumanizing. Capitalism at it's worst. It takes a person when they are incredible vulnerable and tries to squeeze ats much money out of them as possible. It looks at sick person as says "Helping you is worth X amount of dollars to us."

My insurance at work kicks in today, which is why I have this on my mind. And without going in to details I have had to make a decision between being covered and being able to pay bills and I have not felt so helpless in a long time. I'm not sure I made the right choice.

But my point is, I should not have to make that choice. No one should. And to those who say they oppose a public insurance plan because they "don't want a Washington bureaucrat in between them and their doctor." I have to say it can't be worse than having an overpaid pharmaceutical and insurance CEO's standing there. If you trust the government to run our military, why don't you trust them to pay for doctors appointments?

I was talking to a friend of mine in Botswana, and after seeing how easily and cheaply people there can get medicine she has also become very passionate about this issue. To her, if Botswana can give their citizens affordable health care, why can't the U.S.A? I can't say I disagree.

I am hopeful for change. I just hope our leaders have the audacity to do.

Friday, June 12, 2009


My coworker's birthday was a little while ago and I offered to make a cake. I figured it would be fairly easy. Obviously, I have never made a cake before.

I pulled out Juilia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and decided on Gâteau à l'orange. Or orange sponge cake.

Eggs: Separated
Oranges: Juiced and Grated
Pan: Buttered and Flowered

For some reason I forgot we have and electric beater. It would have made this whole process a lot easier.

Not bad.
There are other things going on in my life besides cooking.

I've been riding my bike a lot, pretty much every day to work, which is about a 20 min ride each way. It's really refreshing at the end of work and I can definitely tell that I am getting more in shape because of it. Liz and I have rearranged our apartment and are working on some new home made craft/decorations. I'm feeling more and more settled in Ypsi. We have kicked around the idea of buying a house, but I don't know how serious we are about it. It would be a huge commitment for us, but if there was ever a time to do it, it's this year.

I'll be updating again soon, I have more food to write about.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Standby

Liz got accepted into grad-school yesterday so we celebrated with one of her favorite meals and one of my most often used from Mark Bittman's "How to Cook Everything Vegetarian."

Pesto "Cheeseburger"

I actually serve this more like a steak than a cheeseburger topped with a balsamic tomato sauce. It's got walnuts, basil, fresh breadcrumbs, eggs, and parmesan making is a hearty and tasty dish. All that I added to the meal was some parmesean focaccia from the Depot Town Sourdough Bakery.

I've been on a real Rhone kick lately and I was pleased with this mostly Granache red from Chatau Pesquie. (And in a new decanter from Seth!)

It was nice and earthy with big luscious tannins. The decent amount of Syrah added a nice jammy mouthfeel with notes of pepper, dark cherry, tobacco, and a bit of black liquorish. It was a good food wine, but stood on it's own quite well.

In other news, I've been setting up some shows now to get myself back into playing Liz and I are playing on both June 6th in Ypsi and June 19th in Jackson. I've also been playing with the band Fields of Industry who have been one of my favorites for a while now. I am really exited to be playing music again.

Until next time.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Last Night's Dinner

Ok, so since James said it wouldn't be pretentious to make this a food and wine blog, here we go.

Last night I made an herbed risotto with a balsamic roasted eggplant/tomato topping.

I am getting more into risotto. It's so creamy and makes a great base or side to so many things like vegetables, fish, or poultry. I know the traditional gourmet herb is saffron, but let's be honest, I can't afford it. Here I used parsley, garlic, thyme, and anise. I also used anise in the eggplant and tomato topping. I've found anise works really well with eggplant. They both have really strong flavors but seem to cut each other when cooked together. And I garnished it with some basil from our new basil plant. It was a great entree.

The Wine was a Vidal Blanc from Sand Hill Crane Vineyards which is in Michigan, only about a half hour away. I was originally looking for a Sauvignon Blanc, but I was happy to see that this Michigan vineyard decided to use a lesser known and more suitible grape to the region rather than bank on a name that people recognize. I results were decent. I was expecting it to resemble Sauvignon Blanc, but tasted and went down much more like a Chardonnay. Smooth and almost buttery, not the crisp feel I expected. Definite American oak, and floral notes with a bit of vanilla. Overall the creamyness went well with the risotto. It was a fine table wine, but nothing too exiting going on.

I'm going to try and do this about once a week. Let me know if it gets annoying.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Let's give this one more try.

I am a terrible blogger.

So I got a new job a couple weeks ago. I'm now a "community integration coordinator" for homeless people in washtenaw county. It's going pretty well.

I really want to get back into music. It's been too long since I have played a show, and I'm really missing it. Lukcily I am starting to play with Fields of Industry who have been one of my favorite bands in the state for a long time. But I'm also trying to set up Segernomics again, maybe rename it, reorganize it, and reinvent it a bit, but I want to go back to acoustic. I think it's where I do my best stuff.

Would it be totally pretentious of me to turn this is into a food and wine blog? Because I have definitely thought about it. I think that would be pretentious.

btw, this is public now, so you can stick it in your rss/google reader if you feel so inclined.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Man in the Diner

The other day I had an hour to kill before work. Being hungry, cold, and almost broke I went into the Fleetwood diner for refuge. It was there that I met this man.

His name is T. Casey Brennen and he is an accomplished comic book writer who's work includes some of the Vamirella comics. Bill Clinton named Janurary 1990 "T. Casey Brennen Month" for his anti-smoking campaigns (although he was smoking when I met him.)

He is homeless in Ann Arbor.

Oh yeah, and he made a statement claiming he was kidnapped and forced to assassinate JFK. He was #8 on the suspect list.