This open thread brought to you by the Queen of Hearts


It’s snowing outside, and I’m going to the gym to sit in the sauna. I think it might help my back, which hasn’t gotten any better since the last time I complained about it here. It’s been out for over a month now. Friends, tired of hearing me scream every time I try to get out of a chair, are encouraging me to see a chiropractor, but I’m dubious. I know it’s not always the case, but most of the chiropractors I’ve met have been folks who couldn’t get into veterinary school. And, I’m not about to trust my spine to someone who isn’t qualified to express a dog’s anal gland. But, I’ve agreed to get a massage. Linette, having heard Clementine say “Daddy’s like an old man” one too many times, called and made me an appointment. Hopefully it helps. I’m tired of walking around, hunched over like Monty Burns… I had physical therapy for the first time yesterday, and it seemed to help for a while. Last night, I couldn’t sleep, though. There was only one position I could lay in that didn’t cause pain, and, the moment I got out of it, I’d wake up with a scream. Linette’s at the library now, getting me a book by a fellow who says that back pain is all in your head. Maybe that’ll fix things.

So, enjoy yourself here in the open thread, talking about the discovery of Atlantis by Google, the finding of Osama bin Laden with math, the reclaiming of Detroit by nature, or whatever else it is that you want to talk about. Just do me a favor and be nice to each other until I get back.

Today’s open thread comes courtesy of Ypsilanti’s Queen of Hearts bakery, where, until April first, you can save yourself $10 on a yummy cake if you use the above coupon.

[a little something to be thankful for: If the there were a way, I’d sneak into your house tonight and exchange spines with you as you sleep. But, there isn’t. I’ve been researching it for the past month.]

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  1. Anon
    Posted February 21, 2009 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    I’ve actually heard that it’s harder to get into veterinary school than it is to get into med school–there are fewer vet schools in the country.

  2. Posted February 21, 2009 at 6:40 pm | Permalink

    I just made one hell of a peanut sauce for the stir fry tonight! I don’t know how I did it, but I had it goin’ on tonight!

  3. Posted February 21, 2009 at 10:09 pm | Permalink

    If it’s a herniated disk, you need a surgeon, not a back cracker quack.

  4. Dirtgrain
    Posted February 22, 2009 at 7:30 am | Permalink

    Before going to physical therapy, did you go to a doctor and get an x-ray and diagnosis?

    Physical therapy will take a while to correct your back, potentially. Partly, it’s about building up your back muscles to better hold your spine in place/alignment. Stick with it.

    I’ve heard from some that chiropractors will adjust your back into alignment–but that without exercises (physical therapy), it will just slip out of alignment again later.

    A colleague recommended a chiropractor at an office near Hogback and Clark roads. He would also get a massage at the same place.

    Again, consider an inversion table. I’ve seen them on sale at Dunham’s for $150. But I’m not sure what type of back problem you have. What exactly has gone wrong with it?

    Have you tried having Clementine walk on your back as you lie on the floor?

  5. Curt Waugh
    Posted February 22, 2009 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Stay off that chiropractor gravy train, man. It would be cheaper and more effective just to do heroin. Jake is right: Get your disks checked. If you need surgery, bite the bullet and do it. You’ll be glad you did. Chronic pain will mess up your head. It will destroy your blog and force your children into lower quartiles.

  6. Posted February 22, 2009 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    Fuck chiro. Get an x-ray. You could even have cancer.

  7. Posted February 22, 2009 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Since we’re giving out advice, I would suggest to:

    -listen to your wife
    -start walking outside everyday and then stretching out, especially your hamstrings. Another good one is to pull your knees up to your chest. Make sure you walk or jog at least 4-5 times a week, outside, regardless of the weather. Go for at least 20-30 min and then longer once a week
    -don’t go to a doctor until you try this and see if it goes away

  8. tim
    Posted February 22, 2009 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    Yoga, yoga, yoga. And, if you’re going to go to a doctor, go to a bunch of em before you do surgery. If you can do physical therapy instead of surgery, it will be worth it. Once you’ve had surgery, it will never be as good as it was.

  9. Brackinald Achery
    Posted February 22, 2009 at 12:31 pm | Permalink

    What you need is an Ypsilanti Salt bath, followed by a mustard poultice. Not guaranteed to cure horrible back pain. Side effects may include horrible back pain.

  10. maryd
    Posted February 22, 2009 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

    I have managed back pain problems for about 25 years. I have had relief from Chiropractic manipulation and have had it actually make things worse. I would go in and the guy would put my back “in” and tying my shoes to leave it would slip “out”. It got looser & looser (lower back pain that could prevent me from standing straight). Physical therapy over time helped me the most, and I do it every day still as part of my stretching routine. X-rays and MMR’s frequently misdiagnose back problems. They show problems where there is no pain and do not necessarily show problems where there is pain. Watch out for prescription pain relief, bad road to go down… Most data on this shows most improve in 6 weeks (the acute pain that is) regardless of what you do. The doctors of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation are the best to see in my opinion and from my experience. Ice (a frozen wet towel in big Ziploc) & ibuprofen 800 mg for pain, Read “Maggie’s Back Book” it is a great help too.

  11. Oliva
    Posted February 22, 2009 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    A few of things for this open thread . . .

    Thanks for scoring the Queen of Hearts special discount. Now to see about getting those cappuccino / chocolate chip muffins back as a regular offering. My, those were good. No, phenomenal. And hard to replicate at home.

    Did anyone else receive a bill from the Ypsi Building Department declaring that someone had applied de-icer to their sidewalks and are now being charged? We and our neighbor did, and I can testify that not only was there no de-icer ever applied here or next-door, but we are faithful sidewalk clearers and always do it within 24 hours (though we think the requirement is within 48 hrs.). Neither of us ever received a notice saying our sidewalks needed to be cleared, and they didn’t need it because, as I said, we’re faithful and timely shovelers. It was a steep charge too, $83. We’re planning to protest the charge–absolutely unjust and not right–but we’re curious to hear if anybody else got a similar invoice. (The frustrating thing is that we and our neighbor would happily pitch in to help Ypsi, but it’s so unfair to be charged for something that wasn’t done and didn’t need to be done. Argh!

    And this for Mark and any others who might benefit–beyond chiropractors and saunas (but oh I love the sauna) there are several related energy healing techniques that can help alleviate pain quickly. (Not just physical pain.) Some sound goofy and have dumb names but are miraculous, such as WHEE, which combines EMDR and EFT techniques. There is a lot of information online and via iTunes about them. Would love it if any could help. I also know of a healer in Ann Arbor–he began as a social worker but is now one of those all-around healers skillful in many alternative therapies, including curing bad aches. His name is Brian Whelan, and he’s on First just north of Huron (734-546-3618). I can’t recommend him enough, honestly.

  12. Oliva
    Posted February 22, 2009 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    Quick p.s.

    Queen of Hearts cakes are extra spectacular. We got my parents-in-law a gorgeous one covered in blue-lavender frosting shaped into wisteria blossoms, flecked with gold. And the chocolate layer cake part was superb. We’re so lucky to have a classy bakery right down the road.

  13. Oliva
    Posted February 22, 2009 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    By golly, yet another thing to say this afternoon–this sunny, snow-covered afternoon, with springtime around the March-April corner).

    Is there a local site re. landlords? With the economic hard times, seems that landlords are desperate enough to rent to anybody, so we went from having a street of great neighbors to having a house-full of loud, messy, unfriendly neighbors nearby. And the landlord lives 30 miles away and is unhelpful. And we recently heard about another landlord who sends group emails out to his tenants in which he shames various ones and acts generally disrespectful. Landlords get to do such things, I suppose, but it would be nice if there were a public place to post comments about good and bad landlords. (The house next-door is a rental, owned by supremely responsible, responsive, and very reasonable people. If only they could all be that way.)

    Obama and the others keep talking about the effect of foreclosures on the neighborhood, but we’re finding out firsthand the effect of a sour rental market on the quality of renters/landlords.

  14. Deadhand
    Posted February 22, 2009 at 8:33 pm | Permalink

    I know your pain. It’s one of the worst things in the world.

    That said, please don’t take any of these kooks’ advice about chiropractors (charlatans) and yoga (great for general physical and mental health, bad for “treating” back pain), and especially herniated discs. Only take my advice. Because I’m right. Read Sarno’s book. I know you don’t want to hear it from me. If it makes no sense to you, go to a doctor who will tell you that you need surgery. But if you could get better by reading a book and understanding A LOT about the current medical model (read: lucrative trend) of treating back and neck pain, and a little about how it might very well be a mind/body issue, wouldn’t you rather go that route? It would save Clementine thousands of dollars for college, and give her back her young, lithe daddy again.

    Here’s a somewhat helpful forum to talk to people who are going through similar things (kind of hard to navigate through, especially if you’re in pain).

    Here’s a short article if you don’t have time for the book

    I really hope it’s what Sarno calls TMS, because then you can avoid the mess of our medical field, and the charlatan fringe fields, and just work holistically on the mind-body pain syndrome thing, and you can get better. I broke down in tears on an NYC subway when I read part of his book that hit me, that made sense, that promised I could get better, and that undermined the 10 years of terribly painful and fruitless and expensive travails I had navigating the “back pain” cure industry.

    Please read his book. You remember what I was like. I couldn’t stand up in my twenties, man, and wasted a lot of goddamn time and money. Give yourself time to read it.

    I hate sounding like a proselytizer.

  15. Posted February 22, 2009 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    What, no one wants to talk about Atlantis?

    And, yeah, Dan, I’m not up for surgery. Don’t worry. And, I wouldn’t doubt that the physical pain I feel is somehow tied to stress. I don’t have to read Sarno to know that. At least once a year, the anxiety and stress make blood vessels pop in my eyes. It’s not hard to believe that my back could fall victim too… I’ll make yoga, physical therapy, and exercise work.

    And, thanks, I’ll follow the links, and I’ll keep reading Sarno.

  16. Ol' E Cross
    Posted February 22, 2009 at 11:37 pm | Permalink


    I had tangerine sized swells at my temples this week. I think it’s stress. But, I might actually go to a doctor. It’s been eighteen years since I’ve been to a doctor. What the hell, they need work, too.

    For what it’s worth, I’m one friend who never tires of hearing you scream in pain.


    I’m curious how the whole snow-removal thing turns out. And, I’d love a landlord site. My old concept is pictures of their rentals juxtaposed with pictures of their actual homes with room for comments from tenants and neighbors. I keep waiting for someone else to do it…

  17. Oliva
    Posted February 23, 2009 at 10:57 am | Permalink

    Update on snow removal charge by Ypsi Bldg. Dept.

    So, others may know that city council (everyone but the illustrious and wise Lois Richardson) voted for a new system in which the city relies on a private contractor to see about snowy sidewalks, clear them, and then have the home owners billed. But there are real problems because the law now is that home owners get 48 hours to clear their sidewalks (we thought it was 24 hours and always clear the sidewalks within 24 hours) and are supposed to be warned. We weren’t notified, for one thing, and there’s absolutely no evidence that anyone cleared our walk except for us. Plus, there was never a need for someone else to clear our sidewalks.

    My husband and neighbor went to City Hall first thing this morning, and they reported that the phones were ringing off the hook there, so presumably a lot of others also received an invoice and are mad.

    There is so much to be mad about. For one thing, as if we don’t know to steer clear of private contractors for so many things–after the Bush years, after the Comcast scams in which private contractors do unneceesary work just to get paid, leaving customers to clean up the mess.

    For upset Ypsi residents who received the bogus invoices, the boss at the Building Department said we need to write a letter to contest the invoice. So not only do we get some extra stress and frustration on a much-needed weekend, but it’s up to each of us to prove that the charge is incorrect. Talk about a lousy system.

    Pardon my infuriation! But this is the update as of now. (As if it isn’t pain enough to have all this snow in the first place–now we have to deal with fake charges about it. Maddening!)

    Oh, it’s hard not to wonder whose brother or uncle the private contractor is. But maybe that cynicism is unwarranted. But this move was obviously a really bad idea and unhelpful in fostering trust and mutual respect between residents and city government. (Thankfully, we know some of the people who work for the city are absolutely valuable and good.)

  18. Howdryiam
    Posted February 23, 2009 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    I went to the building department this morning to contest an unjust ‘failure to clear the sidewalk of snow violation.’ I diligently clean my sidewalk, and was shocked to see this invoice in the mail this past Saturday. While I was standing there for five minutes, there were several phone calls into the office with people complaining about similar unjust invoices. It seems that if you’d like to appeal a bogus fine, you have to write a letter to the attention of Mr. Frank Daniels of the building department. This is what I’m in the process of doing, and I urge anyone else who got tapped with these charges to do the same.

    The ordinance is contradictory in language to what appears on the city’s website. The ordinance itself states that snow and ice must be cleared within 48 hours from first accumulation. This is also what was published in the Ann Arbor News. However the city’s website states that sidewalks much be cleared “within 24 hours of a snowfall”. The ambiguity and confusion certainly doesn’t help matter. And what constitutes “cleared” exactly?

    Additionally, the city ordinance states that a notice, (either by telephone, mail, in person, or written notice left on the property) will be issued. The ordinance also stipulates that at least 18 hours will be given before any action is taken once the notice is issued. I never received a notice of any manner. So if I’m reading this ordinance correctly, and I’d like to believe I am (but I’m just a ordinary citizen unfamiliar with the byzantine operations of city government) I should have had 66 hours to clear the snow from my sidewalk before I could justly be fined.

    Further, it’s maddening how the city government capriciously enforces ordinances on the books. Either enforce them, or don’t. I know that there are many, many dedicated individuals trying to do the right thing in city government, but no matter how ‘business/people friendly’ city hall tries to claim they are, they then go and shoot themselves in the foot with stupid stuff like this. Perception is reality, and the perception is that the city government doesn’t know (or care) what citizens want or need. It’s this disconnect that will keep Ypsilanti from being the diverse, vibrant, cool, and hip city that it could be… Sad, really.

  19. Derek Foreal
    Posted February 23, 2009 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone know the name of the contractor the city uses to do the actual cleanup?

    I would appreciate the name, it is, or should be, public knowledge. But I cannot find it on the coucil minutes anywhere.

    I would like to investigate their possible connection in anyway to any city employee.

  20. Paw
    Posted February 23, 2009 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    I can’t find them now, so they may have taken then down, but was anyone following the comments being left about the accused rape this weekend of an 18 year old at an EMU frat house?

  21. Mike
    Posted February 23, 2009 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I can’t comment on anything. My entire mindset is stuck on my 2009 tax assessment paperwork that states my home has decreased 26K in the last year. God I hate Ypsi, and now I’m stuck here for what seems like eternity.

    Meh. Off to check out Atlantis.

  22. BrianR
    Posted February 23, 2009 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    Board ups in the City are performed by Belfor USA.
    Graffiti, lawn mowing, and trash pick-up is done by A&M Services.

    I don’t have my notes with me, but I asked this question at the December 2nd meeting. You can go watch the video to confirm, but I believe A&M Services is doing the remediation.

    Ordinance enforcement routinely takes photos of violations like tall weeds, etc. For anyone making a formal complaint, I would suggest asking if a photo of the area in violation exists. I make no promise that one does or should be in evidence somewhere.

  23. Derek Foreal
    Posted February 23, 2009 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    My professioanl experiences with A&M Services is far from good.

    What would a photo do? Yes, snow is there, next photo, snow is gone.

    Would that show who actually did the work.

    If work was done by A&M, who is to say the resident was PROPERLY notified.

    Who is to say there is no collusion? ie: I’ll give you ten bucks for every violation you give us to do. You convieniently leave no notice.

    Lets do the whole freakin neighborhood cause a certain percentage will just pay. Who cares about the grief and wasted time we will casue the polulace.

    Code Enforcement told me they need to examine the “photos” Photos will not show a non-existant notice. Dates and time stamps on cameras are not reliable. I can take a picture of snow on my sidewalk, and another when its gone, does that prove I did it? And even if A&M did it, they have no right to do it without giving myself a chance first.

    This policy is total crap, crappily enforce, selectively enforced, and knowing A&M, there is mischief involved.

  24. Oliva
    Posted February 23, 2009 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, BrianR for the helpful info. The trash pickup is good, reliable. But it wouldn’t be at all wise to hire the same company for this other task, which it might be tempted to combine with trash pickup, for efficiency’s sake, and this would slow down the one and really make a mess of the other, which is apparently what happened. And it is too tempting to fib (for efficiency’s sake!), so a private contractor is a terrible idea for this apparently unworkable snow removal policy–not well-thought-out for a number of reasons, anyway.

  25. maryd
    Posted February 23, 2009 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

    The snow removal (what a misnomer) reminds me of the way schools will suddenly implement some rule they have on the books, do it all wrong, getting all the wrong people and of course a bad outcome is the result. Meanwhile in our fair town, all winter downtown curb-cuts have been stomped down by foot traffic and are clear for about a mere 12 inches, leaving me to wonder how anyone with a wheelchair, walker or stroller could ever navigate downtown at all. I saw the city contractors race through our neighborhood, no snow removal, no inspection, just abrupt stops and throwing of de-icer off huge red trucks w/plows that left snow mounds all over the place on the streets. They did not use any kind of fair process. Oh and they salted the alleys too.

  26. Citizen Blogger
    Posted February 23, 2009 at 9:38 pm | Permalink

    As somebody who spends a lot of time walking around town (and who has made a lot of complaints to the city about unshoveled sidewalks!) I for one am glad to see more robust snow enforcement. There were properties around town that had their sidewalks completely unshoveled for a month – just like every other winter, except this time the city got a policy in place to deal with it. (Really important, since this has been officially one of the coldest and snowiest winters ever!)

    I’m not going to say that the city implemented it perfectly, and it sounds like there are some kinks to work out. But I am glad to see that something is being done – that the city is taking into account my needs, as a pedestrian, to travel around town safely.

  27. Oliva
    Posted February 24, 2009 at 12:05 am | Permalink

    I appreciate the comment, Citizen Blogger, but if a system isn’t just, then it isn’t worthwhile. The idea might be good, but that’s a whole separate thing–so I think “kinks” is way too soft a word. A lot of us are pedestrians and keep slipping and moving to the street because of impassable sidewalks. So, it seems especially unfair, given that we make our sidewalks safe to walk, that we have to fight to remove a citation from our record and fight a charge we don’t owe. And we’re not the only ones.

  28. maryd
    Posted February 24, 2009 at 7:08 am | Permalink

    The city needs to clean up it’s own snow before going after citizens. You know get your own house in order first. Sprinkling salt on snow covered walks (or walks that are not snow covered) is not robust snow removal. No, not at all. I thought the plan was to clean up the snow and charge the scofflaws for it, that is not what I witnessed. I think Oliva has it right when she complains about the contractors hired to implement.

  29. Posted February 25, 2009 at 10:01 pm | Permalink

    Actually, many M.D.s have no problem with chiropractic: pain relief is all subjective anyway, and it does no harm to crack the back. I suspect, though, that the diagnosis is too much blogging. Now and then, you just have to go out and shake that thing. Or stretch, at least.

  30. Posted February 25, 2009 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    By “stretching” my “thing,” I hope you didn’t have something like this in mind, Mr. Skinner.

  31. Posted February 28, 2009 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    I’m proud to announce that the Black Jake and the Carnies facebook page fans has finally tied the markmaynard dot com page followers at 84.

  32. Posted February 28, 2009 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    Now it’s ON, Bitch!

  33. Posted February 28, 2009 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    I’ve yet to back away from a contest of sitting at my computer and checking stuff.

  34. Posted February 28, 2009 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    I will donate $1 to Growing Hope for every facebook fan of the Black Jake and the Carnies facebook page OVER the number of facebook followers of the Mark Maynard dot com facebook page.

    Contest ends April 1st, 2009. Upper limit of $300 donation.


  35. Posted February 28, 2009 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    I will release one live woodchuck into Jake’s house for every person who links to my site through Facebook between now and April Fools Day.

  36. Posted February 28, 2009 at 11:19 pm | Permalink

    Meat Baby!

  37. Posted March 1, 2009 at 12:06 am | Permalink

    I will eat one woodchuck meat baby for every woodchuck meat baby someone makes me.

  38. Posted March 1, 2009 at 11:12 pm | Permalink

    You must have never read Spy vs. Spy, Mr. Jake. If you did, you’d know that the meat baby always has a fuse.

  39. Posted March 1, 2009 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

    Oh, and thanks for directing folks to the site’s Facebook page. That was appreciated.

  40. Posted March 8, 2009 at 10:56 pm | Permalink

    I just took my dad a birthday cake from the Queen of Hearts yesterday and it was unbelievably good… Seriously, it’s great stuff – not sickly sweet – just light and delicious.

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